Tuesday 20 February 2018

Morgan misses Ashes opener

EOIN MORGAN looked set to miss out on a place in the England team for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane overnight as the visitors aim to end Australia's 22-year unbeaten run at the Gabba.

Andrew Strauss' side was expected to have few surprises in its line-up, with Ian Bell's impressive 192 against Australia 'A' in Tasmania virtually guaranteeing his place at No 6 in England's batting line-up.

Despite an impressive year, Dubliner Morgan (right) did not feature in the warm-up matches and it looks as if he needs one of the other specialist batsmen to suffer injury or loss of form if he is to force his way into the team.

Michael Clarke was declared fit to play for Australia as the hosts finally caught a break on the eve of the start of the five-Test series.

Badly hit by injuries and form slumps, Australia named a 17-strong squad nine days ago, then a slimmed-down 13-man version before adding Usman Khawaja as cover for the injured Clarke. So it was doubtless with some relief that skipper Ricky Ponting named his starting XI for the first Test.

"Doug Bollinger and Usman Khawaja are the two who are not playing," he said. "Michael Clarke has come through pretty well."

Clarke had been suffering from a recurrence of a back problem that has dogged him for much of his career. The return of his vice-captain and anointed successor -- not to mention a top-order batsman with 64 Tests and 4,549 runs -- will be a huge boost to Ponting.

Australia -- S Katich, S Watson, R Ponting (capt), M Clarke, M Hussey, M North, B Haddin, M Johnson, B Hilfenhaus, P Siddle, X Doherty.

England (likely) -- A Strauss (capt), A Cook, J Trott, K Pietersen, P Collingwood, I Bell, M Prior, S Broad, J Anderson, S Finn, G Swann.

Australia v England,

Live, Day Two, Sky Sports 1, midnight

Irish Independent

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