LONDON: England captain Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to bowl in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s on Wednesday as Australia recalled Mitchell Starc to their side.
The overcast and humid conditions, combined with a green-tinged pitch, promised to aid England’s fast bowlers as the hosts look to level the five-match series at 1-1.
Australia came into the match buoyed by their thrilling two-wicket win in the first Test at Edgbaston last week.
England had already named their side on Tuesday, with fast bowler Josh Tongue, who only made his Test debut against Ireland at Lord’s earlier this month, replacing injured off-spinner Moeen Ali.
Tongue’s inclusion meant England’s attack consisted of four frontline seamers and no specialist slow bowler, although Stokes did have the option to call upon Joe Root’s off-breaks.
“I think the overheads have obviously played a massive part in this and there’s a bit of grass on the pitch so we hope it can do a bit this morning,” said Stokes at the toss.
Australia recalled left-arm quick Starc in place of Scott Boland after England troubled the seamer in Birmingham. “We would have had a bowl as well,” said Australia captain Pat Cummins.
“It does with the clouds overhead. Just a bit of variety, we’re really happy with how Scotty (Boland) is going but unfortunately he is the one to miss out this week,” the fast bowler added.
“(We are) excited to have someone of Mitchell Starc’s class back in.”
Australia star batsmen Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne managed just 35 runs in four innings between them at Edgbaston.
Cummins added: “There are a couple of areas that we could tidy up from last week. They (Smith and Labuschagne) are world-class players and it is rare they miss out so I’ve seen how hard they’ve been working out back.”
Nathan Lyon became the first specialist bowler to appear in 100 consecutive Tests after being included in Ashes-holders Australia’s team, with the off-spinner needing just five more wickets to become only the eighth man to take 500 in Tests.
England: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (capt), Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Josh Tongue, James Anderson
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wkt), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (capt), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (NZL), Ahsan Raza (PAK)
TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)