England have rested Mark Wood from Wednesday night’s second Test at Adelaide – but included left-arm spinner Jack Leach in their 12-man squad, despite the punishment he took from Australia’s batsmen in the Ashes opener at Brisbane.
Wood, who along with Ollie Robinson was one of England’s two best bowlers at the Gabba, taking three for 85 in Australia’s first innings – including Steve Smith for just 12 – is said to be fully fit, with no injury concerns over the left ankle that has regularly troubled him.
And with England needing victory in this pink-ball Test to square the five-match series at 1-1 after their nine-wicket defeat in Brisbane, captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood must now settle on the balance of their attack.
England have rested Mark Wood (L) but included Jack Leach (R) for second Ashes Test
Wood was one of England’s two best bowlers at the Gabba and took three for 85 in Australia’s first innings
The inclusion of Chris Woakes, who took four for 36 – his best Test figures overseas – when England last played a day/night Test at Adelaide four years ago – means that one option is a five-man seam attack, including Ben Stokes, who bowled a ferocious spell to Root in the nets on Tuesday.
But England have not yet discounted the possibility of handing another outing to Leach, whose 13 overs at Brisbane disappeared for 102 as Australia carried out plans to attack him.
‘As difficult as it was for him, Jack has had a couple of days to think about it and I’m sure will be wanting to get straight back out there,’ said Root.
The inclusion on Chris Woakes (above) means that one option is a five-man seam attack
‘The one thing we’ve spoken about a lot is look at when he bowled. On that surface, it was the best time to face spin.
‘We only had 150 on the board – there was not a lot working in his favour.
‘If we’d gone into the later stages of day four and day five, when we’d have expected him to bowl having won the toss and batted first, there would have been more to work with.
England 12 for second Ashes Test
Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wkt), Haseeb Hameed, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.
‘You saw Nathan Lyon come into the game in our second innings, and it could have been very different.’
Jimmy Anderson told the BBC: ‘We’ve been rallying round Jack. He’s in good spirits, actually. He’s worked really hard in the last couple of days, making sure his game is where it needs to be.
‘In not very spin-friendly conditions at the Gabba, a team like Australia can put you under pressure. He works really hard on his game, and he has in particular in the last couple of days.’
Explaining the absence of Wood, the England captain added: ‘With four Tests coming up in the next four weeks, it is important that we keep our bowling group fresh and ready for each Test.
‘Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad have prepped well leading into this Test. They worked hard at Brisbane and have been in good rhythm in the sessions we have had in Adelaide.
‘Mark Wood will play a pivotal role in this series and we have to ensure he is fresh and able to perform at his fullest capability. With three Tests coming up after this one, he will be ready to play his part in the rest of the series.’
Australia’s Travis Head has already suggested it would be a mistake to go into a Test at Adelaide without a frontline spinner, and on Wednesday head groundsman Damian Hough added his voice to the debate.
Australia’s Travis Head (above) has already suggested it would be a mistake to not include a frontline spinner
Asked if England would be making an error to go in without a slow-bowling specialist, Hough replied: ‘Yeah, I think so. History says that the pitch will spin.
‘Nathan Lyon has always played a role out there, so from our end we believe that spin in Adelaide needs to play a part. We feel that it has previously and it still should.’
Australia, meanwhile, have confirmed that opener David Warner is fit to play, despite taking painful blows to the ribs at the Gabba from Wood and Stokes.
‘He’s a little bit sore, but he’ll be fine,’ said captain Pat Cummins. Seamer Jhye Richardson will come in for his third Test in place of the injured Josh Hazlewood.