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The Ashes: First Test team news

The much-anticipated first Ashes Test gets underway at Edgbaston on Friday and there should be no surprises in the Australian side.

Australia warmed up for the Ashes series in fine style when crushing India by 209 runs in the World Test Championship final, and now all focus turns to England

The home side are in a bullish mood heading into the series following a revamp to their style of play under new coach Brendon McCullum. 

It now remains to be seen whether ‘Bazball’ will measure up against the Australians, and we are set for an exciting few weeks of Test cricket between the two arch rivals. 

First up we head to Birmingham and there should be no surprises in the Australian starting team.

WhatEngland v Australia
WhereEdgbaston, Birmingham, England
When16th to 21st June, 2023
How to watchChannel 7, Foxtel, Kayo
OddsEngland 2.37, Draw 5.00, Australia 2.25

Hazlewood passed fit 

Australia have been handed a big boost ahead of the first Test with the news that pace bowler Josh Hazlewood has been passed fit to play. 

Hazlewood has been struggling with side and Achilles issues and was unable to play in the World Test Championship final against India. 

Aussie skipper Pat Cummins has revealed that Hazlewood has returned to fitness and comes into the reckoning for the first Test. 

Australia have no other injury concerns and now they just need to come up with the right formula to get the series off to a winning start.

Batting order picks itself 

Despite the fact that both opening batsmen David Warner and Usman Khawaja are struggling for runs, the Aussie selectors will keep the faith for now. 

Warner’s struggles have been well documented but he did manage to chip in with 43 runs in the first innings against India. 

Khawaja made just 13 in total but both he and Warner will open at Edgbaston. Marnus Labuschagne will bat at three, while the stars of the show against India, Steve Smith and Travis Head will bat at four and five respectively. 

Smith scored 121 in the first innings, Head a swashbuckling 163, and the duo will be key to Australia’s chances. Smith is priced at 4.75 to be the Top 1st Innings Batter.  

Cameron Green will bat at six, with Alex Carey, who impressed against India, coming in at seven. The wicketkeeper chipped in with crucial knocks of 48 and 66 against India, which proves Australia have plenty of quality right down the order.

Bowling selection dilemma 

Without doubt the biggest selection dilemma for Australia concerns the make-up of their bowling attack for the first Test. 

Captain Cummins is of course locked in, along with spin bowler Nathan Lyon and all-rounder Green. 

Then the Aussies have to pick two from Scott Boland, Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood. It looks as though Boland has done enough to earn his place in the side. 

The 32-year-old took a total of five wickets against India and has earned high praise from Cummins. Boland looks set to have a big Ashes series and is priced at 9.00 to be the Top 1st Innings Bowler.  

So it looks set to come down to a straight choice between Hazlewood and Starc for the final spot in the team. 

It could be something of a gamble to go with Hazlewood due to his injury issues. It is a long series and the Australians might decide to hold him back until the second Test at Lords. 

However, there is also a question mark over whether Starc would concede too many runs against a very aggressive England batting line-up.

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