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Smith wins toss and bats against England

Thu 16 Dec 2021, 13:17:44
Adelaide: More than three years after he was fired as Australia captain, and three hours after new skipper Pat Cummins was ruled out because he was exposed to a person with COVID-19, Steve Smith won the toss Thursday and elected to bat against England in the second test of the Ashes cricket series.

Smith is the third captain in three consecutive tests for Australia.

Tim Paine, who replaced Smith as test captain in 2018 after the infamous “Sandpapergate” scandal in South Africa, quit last month after reports emerged that he'd been investigated four years ago for sending an inappropriate text to a work colleague.

The 28-year-old Cummins was selected to lead Australia in the Ashes and made his captaincy debut last week at the Gabba, where Australia won by nine wickets.

Now Smith is back.

“It's a huge honor," Smith said after the coin toss at the Adelaide Oval.

“It's been pretty interesting morning.”

The message from Cummins for the day-nighter, Smith said, was: “Good luck. Go for it. It's your team this week. Keep moving forward.”

Cummins' late omission and Josh Hazlewood's side strain means there's two changes to the Australian bowling attack, with Jhye Richardson replacing Hazlewood and 31-year-old Michael Neser getting a late call up to make his test debut.

England recalled Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad for the pink ball match after their most experienced bowlers out of the Brisbane test. Jack Leach was dropped, leaving England without a specialist spinner in the second test.

“Great opportunity for those two to lead from the front,” England captain Joe Root said.

Root won the toss in the first test and decided to bat at the Gabba, but the tourists had an immediate setback when Mitchell Starc bowled Rory Burns with the first delivery of the series. England was skittled for 147 on day one and conceded a 278-run advantage when Australia replied with 425.

Australia, which has eight wins from eight starts in day-night test matches, was overwhelming favorite in Adelaide but the absence of Cummins could change things.

Cricket Australia said in a statement on Thursday morning that Cummins had been exposed to the COVID-19 case when he was dining in a restaurant the previous night.

He was deemed a close contact by the state's health authorities and ordered to isolate for seven days. Cummins has already returned a negative test for COVID-19.

“Gutted to miss this test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance in the baggy green,” Cummins said in a Twitter post.

“He has done the hard yards and is a seriously skillful player."

It will be Smith's first appearance as captain since the Cape Town, South Africa ball-tampering scandal in 2018 which cost him the captaincy and a subsequent two-year leadership ban, as well as a 12-month suspension from representing Australia.

Cricket Australia said fellow Australia bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were dining at the same restaurant as Cummins on Wednesday night but at a separate table outdoors. SA Health said Starc and Lyon were casual contacts and they are free to play.

Lineups:

Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (captain), Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Michael Neser, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc.

England: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson.




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