Men's Ashes 2021-22
Neser capped after bizarre morning, Aussies bat first
With Pat Cummins in isolation due to South Australia's health protocols, Michael Neser comes into the starting XI as Steve Smith returns to the captaincy and wins the coin toss
Louis Cameron at Adelaide Oval
16 December 2021, 02:30 PM AEST
Steve Smith has won his first coin toss back as captain, electing to bat first against the all-pace attack of England who have punted Jack Leach after his Gabba nightmare.
Following a dramatic morning that saw Smith replace Pat Cummins as skipper for the second Vodafone Ashes Test in Adelaide, England have made the bold call of going into the day-night contest without a specialist spin bowler.
Cummins was this morning ruled out of the second Test having been deemed by South Australian health officials as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
Michael Neser is making his Test debut having been presented with an unexpected Baggy Green by Glenn McGrath on Thursday afternoon.
Glenn McGrath presents Michael Neser with Baggy Green No.462 #Ashes pic.twitter.com/7qHztK8ns5— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 16, 2021
"It's a huge honour obviously," Smith said at the toss. "It's been a pretty interesting morning, a bit going on. I feel for Patty missing this game but I'll try and lead on the way he started this week."
Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (c), Travis Head (vc), Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon.
England XI: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad have been recalled after the pair were surprise omissions for the Ashes opener at the Gabba, with speedster Mark Wood rested and Leach dropped.
Leach conceded 103 runs from 13 overs in Brisbane and England may have been spooked further by the record of visiting spin bowlers in pink-ball Tests in Australia; collectively they have managed just 18 wickets at 72.83.
"We've made a brave call but we said we were going to do that from the outset," England captain Joe Root said of the decision to drop Leach. "It's a good opportunity for our seamers to hopefully make use of a fresh wicket."
Neser had initially been pipped by Jhye Richardson for the place vacated by the inured Josh Hazlewood in Australia’s XI but Cummins’ absence now sees him become Australian men’s Test player 462.
The injection of experience into England’s bowling attack comes as Australia were forced into doing the opposite after Cummins’ last-minute withdrawal saw him join Hazlewood (who hurt his side at the Gabba) on the sidelines.
Along with the uncapped Neser, Richardson is playing his first Test in nearly three years while allrounder Cameron Green is only in his sixth Test.
Australia’s bowling attack will now lean on the experience of Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, who coincidentally were also dining at the same restaurant as Cummins on Wednesday but were only deemed ‘casual contacts’ and therefore able to play.
"They're obviously big losses for us, they're two world-class bowlers," Smith said of Hazlewood and Cummins.
"But we've been really excited by what we've seen from Jhye for a few years now and Neser, I'm really excited for him.
"He's worked his backside off for a long time, been 12th man numerous times, and gets his opportunity. We're all looking forward to playing with him, it's a great moment for him."
David Warner will open the batting despite the badly-bruised ribs he suffered in Brisbane hampering his preparation, having appeared in pain at times when he batted in the nets two days before the Test.
Ben Stokes too is right to play after hurting his knee at the Gabba, training strongly with the ball in the lead-in to this Test.
Vodafone Men's Ashes
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
First Test: Australia won by nine wickets
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Blundstone Arena