Leeds, United Kingdom, Aug 22 (AFP/APP):England captain Joe Root won the toss and decided to bowl against Australia in the third Ashes Test at his Headingley home ground on Thursday.
After rain delayed the toss by some 30 minutes, Root decided to field in the hope his attack, featuring fast bowler Jofra Archer, could take advantage of the overcast conditions — the floodlights were on to pierce the gloom — that promised to assist his pacemen.
But no sooner had the toss taken place then the rain returned, with the pitch and square fully covered again.
England were unchanged from the side that had the better of a rain-affected draw in the second Test at Lord’s, with opener Jason Roy passed fit to play after being hit on the head batting in the Headingley nets on Tuesday.
But Australia, still 1-0 up in the five-match series after their 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston, made three changes to their side.
With star batsman Steve Smith ruled out with a concussion suffered when hit on the neck by a 92 mph Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s, Marnus Labuschagne — cricket’s inaugural concussion substitute when replacing Smith at Lord’s — came into the side.
Smith, however, was a huge loss to Australia having made scores of 144, 142 and 92 this series.
Meanwhile Australia dropped opener Cameron Bancroft and paceman Peter Siddle, with Marcus Harris and James Pattinson replacing the duo.
Struggling opener Banncroft has made just 34 runs in four innings this series, with Harris, who has played six Tests, now given his chance at the top of the order.
Siddle was also left out, with the quicker Pattinson returning to the XI after playing at Edgbaston but missing out at Lord’s.
Australia hold the Ashes but have not won a Test series away to England for 18 years.
England: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root (capt), Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach
Australia: David Warner Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschange, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (capt/wkt), James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Umpires: Joel Wilson (WIS), Chris Gaffaney (NZL)
TV umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)