England have sprung a massive shock on the morning of the first Ashes Test after opting to leave out veteran quick Stuart Broad for the series opener against Australia at the Gabba.
The tourists had already turned heads on Tuesday after confirming that fellow paceman James Anderson was being rested for the Brisbane Test, with one eye on next week's second match in Adelaide.
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England skipper Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat after declaring that the pitch felt "quite soft underneath and might do a bit more on the second and third day."
The star batsman said leaving out Broad was a "difficult decision to make", particularly with the green tinge to the Gabba pitch and the overcast conditions in Brisbane.
With fellow quick Anderson's absence confirmed on Tuesday, it means the tourists will have a bowling attack of Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and spinner Jack Leach.
Superstar allrounder Ben Stokes will also chip in with the ball in what will be his first competitive match since July.
It's the first time since the Boxing Day Test in 2006 that an Australian side won't come up against either Broad (524 Test wickets) or Anderson (632 Test wickets) in an Ashes match.
Cricket fans were understandably gobsmacked by England's call, taking to social media to express their disbelief.
Stuart Broad omission shocks cricket fans
Well I mean he is Stuart Broad and it is the Ashes. No Jimmy either. You need someone to lead the attack. Brave call I think.
— Zubeda Ismail (@zubedaismail) December 7, 2021
Jack Leach over Stuart Broad is a gamble & blunder. Broad's experience is invaluable. Australia would be relieved 😅. Expect England to get bundle out under 300 . Joe Root would hope that Batters show intent
— Varad Vaichal (@vaichal_varad) December 7, 2021
Gutted no Stuart Broad, brave call!
— Jimmy Lomas (@jimmylomas1) December 7, 2021
— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) December 7, 2021
— All about Steve (@1StevieKilner) December 7, 2021
It seems to be a swinger’s morning. What is England thinking ? Unbelievable that Stuart Broad is left out of the opener, a sigh of relief for the Aussie left handers.
— Anmar Goodridge-Boyce (@anmargboyce) December 7, 2021
No Stuart Broad either. Big sigh of relief from Dave Warner. Brave or foolish? #AUSvENG
— Tom Beattie (@TomBeattie2010) December 7, 2021
Australia unfazed by England selections
Pat Cummins, Australia's 47th Test captain, will be leading his country for the first time after the fall of predecessor Tim Paine due to a sexting scandal.
Australia named their playing XI on Sunday with Travis Head returning at No.5 after his axing during last summer's series against India ahead of Usman Khawaja and wicketkeeper Alex Carey on debut, replacing Paine.
Carey was presented with his baggy green cap before the match by former Test player Adam Gilchrist.
"Rest assured you deserve this, there is absolutely no way that these are given out lightly. It's been a courageous journey," Gilchrist told the South Australian, who began his professional sporting life as an aspiring AFL footballer for the GWS Giants.
"You walked away from one journey, and courageously resumed another dream.
"And here you are, fulfilling that dream today. Absolutely brilliant."
Conditions are overcast and humid but so far forecast showers have stayed away.
England will wear black armbands for the first day's play in memory of former England women's cricketer Eileen Ash, who died earlier this week aged 110.
She was the world's oldest Test cricketer, making her debut in 1937.
England is searching for their first Test win at the Gabba since 1986 while Australia's last defeat at the venue in the opening match of a series was in 1988 against the West Indies.
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
England: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Jack Leach.
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