Ball books XI berth ahead of Overton
Jake Ball will be the fourth member of England's seam attack when the Ashes starts in Brisbane on Thursday. Ball, the Nottinghamshire seamer, won selection ahead of Craig Overton. The England team management felt Ball's extra pace and ability to extract bounce will be an advantage on the hard Australian pitches.
While injury limited Ball to only 22 deliveries in first-class cricket on the tour - he sprained his ankle in the warm-up game in Adelaide - he impressed in his limited opportunities. He also proved his fitness by taking on a heavy workload in the nets and fielding for a few sessions as a substitute fielder in Townsville. He bowled 17 overs at full pace on Saturday. This will be his fourth Test, meaning he is one of four men in the England side to have played fewer than 10 Tests.
Overton, who is yet to play international cricket, performed pretty well with the ball in the warm-up games but failed to exploit any advantage he might have had as a batsman. A player good enough to have scored a first-class century, Overton has been dismissed for a duck in all three innings he has played on tour.
"It wasn't an easy decision," Joe Root, the England captain, said. "Craig has come into the squad and everything asked of him he's done really well.
"Jake has bowled well when he's had his opportunity and the way he goes about things on these surfaces could be really challenging for the Australians."
England are also set to change their batting line-up. While Jonny Bairstow batted at No. 6 and Moeen Ali at No. 7 in the last warm-up game, they will swap places for this Test. The team management felt that Bairstow was better at batting with the tail - and England's last three represents an unusually long tail by their standards in recent times - while the increased responsibility may benefit Moeen.
It is something of a surprise, though. Moeen has batted once on the tour and scored just 5. He averages 68.54 at No. 7 (where he has batted 14 times in Tests) and just 21 at No. 6 (where he has batted 11 times). Promoting Moeen also means that four of England's top six (Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan and Moeen) are left-handers. Bairstow, by contrast, averages 45.91 batting at No. 6 (25 innings) and 42.46 at No. 7 (30 innings).
Meanwhile, Root suggested that Nathan Lyon's comments about hoping to end England players' careers were "out of character." But he went on to say that he wouldn't want his players to talk in such a way and he was proud of the way they had dealt with the "external noise."
"It's slightly out of character," Root said. "I know Nathan from playing club cricket. It doesn't seem very real.
"That's not how I'd want my players to go about things but that's up to him to come out and say that.
"Will I get stuck into him verbally? I'm not sure that's my style.
"The external noise we have dealt with exceptionally well as a group of players. I'm proud of how the lads have gone about things. Of course, we'll probably get a good atmosphere within the ground and there might be a bit of noise from the crowd and stuff but I see us as absolutely ready to go.
"There's a really calm atmosphere within the dressing room. I am surprising myself how calm I am.
"I think that's a really good place for us to be as a side. It's how we get the best out of each other and it's a good way to enter this series."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo