By Tom Mackinnon.
ENGLAND have picked seamer Jake Ball ahead of Craig Overton for the first test of the Ashes.
Previously an injury concern due to the bowler twisting his ankle less than two weeks ago, Ball has been selected ahead of the Somerset all-rounder Overton for the opening test in Brisbane tonight.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said captain Joe Root, “Craig has come into the squad and everything asked of him he’s done really well.
“Jake has bowled well when he’s had his opportunity on the tour and the way he goes about things on these surfaces could be really challenging for the Australians.”
The Nottinghamshire bowler has bowled just 15.4 overs on the tour so far, with his injury occurring during his stride against a Cricket Australia XI.
The 26 –year-old is in line to play his fourth test for England, taking two wickets. Ball’s speciality comes in the limiting of runs, with a strong bowling average of 114.0, something the English will need to do if they’re to retain the Ashes.
Root and the board of selectors have picked the following side for the first test: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wicket keeper), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball and leading wicket taker James Anderson.
The Australian’s are yet to name their line-up for the first test. The first ball is expected to be bowled at midnight tonight at the Gabba in Brisbane.
England enter the Ashes as big outsiders, with some bookmakers pricing them as high as 10/1 to win the 70th series outright. The last three tours have gone by destination, with the last series Down Under finishing in a 5-0 whitewash for the Aussies. Darren Lehmann’s side come into the series expected to win on home soil.