England captain Joe Root insists it was a ‘difficult decision’ to leave Stuart Broad out of his team to face Australia in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.
With record wicket-taker James Anderson missing the Ashes opener due to a calf niggle, the feeling was that England would lean on Broad’s experience at the Gabba.
But England picked a bowling attack of Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Jack Leach, with their two leading wicket-takers both sitting out of the first Test.
Speaking at the toss, Root said: ‘We are blessed with a very good seam attack and it was a difficult decision to make.
‘There’s five Tests and it’s important they’re ready to go when called upon at any time.’
Root added: ‘We have prepared and planned really well. We’re grateful to get the opportunity to play a series like this and we want to make the most of it.’
England Ashes winners Sir Alastair Cook and Steve Harmison were confused by the selection decision and questioned whether Broad was in fact carrying an injury.
Ex-skipper Cook told BT Sport: ‘I keep going through the Stuart Broad decision and I keep thinking, “is there more to it?”
‘The most relieved man will be David Warner. All his preparation the past two or three weeks, his visualisation of how to play against Broady.’
Harmison added: You’ve got a green surface, you’ve got a Kookaburra ball which is said will swing more. Not only does it swing more, it stays good for longer.
‘I hope there is more to the injury and they’ve gone ultra-safe on that front. I hope [it’s the case] rather than they’ve thought, “these are the best four bowlers on this surface”.’
Australia legend Shane Warne also disagreed with England’s decision to leave out Broad and says he would have picked Anderson too.
‘Australia lost the first Test at The Gabba for the first time in 30 years last year,’ he told Fox Cricket.
‘I would have been hitting them right between the eyes with Anderson and Broad. Unfortunately they have decided to rest them.’
England skipper Root elected to bat after winning the toss in Brisbane but the tourists slipped to 59-4 by lunch.
Mitchell Starc knocked over Rory Burns with the first ball of the 72nd Ashes series and Dawid Malan edged Josh Hazlewood behind in the third over of the day.
Root departed for a nine-ball duck in the sixth over – also falling to Hazlewood – and the returning Ben Stokes became new Australia captain Pat Cummins’ second victim when he nicked to the slips.
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