Cricket: England play Ball as fourth seamer for Ashes opener
By Ian Ransom
BRISBANE (Reuters) - England paceman Jake Ball has beaten out Craig Overton to be the touring side's fourth seamer in the series-opening Ashes test against Australia starting in Brisbane on Thursday.
Ball will be thrown into the Gabba cauldron in just his fourth test after recovering from a sprained ankle that saw him scratched from the tour match in Adelaide and rested for the final warm-up in Townsville last week, where Overton bowled.
He joins front-line quicks James Anderson and Stuart Broad at the Gabba, along with pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes, for his first test since Chennai last December.
Two of Ball's three tests came against India on that series, months after his debut against Pakistan at Lord's, and he managed only two wickets across the three matches.
But the tall 26-year-old will hope to generate a lot of bounce off the juicy Gabba deck with his height, despite his limited preparations.
"Hopefully I can show that and nick a few of the Aussies off," he said earlier this week.
"I'm in a really good position at the minute. I think we're going to hit the ground running and I hope to surprise a few people. I think we've a really good chance."
Root, who declined to name the side earlier at his pre-match media conference on Wednesday, said it wasn't an easy decision to go with Ball.
"Craig has come into the squad and everything asked of him he's done really well," Root said in a statement.
"All the players on their first tour have impressed and it's great that the whole squad seems to be performing.
"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 rest of the England side is as expected, with the inexperienced trio of James Vince, Dawid Malan and opener Mark Stoneman to feature in the batting lineup and spin bowling Moeen Ali included as a second all-rounder.
Team: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford/John O'Brien/Amlan Chakraborty)