David Warner’s friendship with Usman Khawaja extends back decades, and a picture of them in cricket whites as kids has gone viral.
Welcome to our live coverage of day one of the fifth Ashes Test between Australia and England in Hobart.
It’s set to be a historic fixture for Tasmanian cricket fans — this will be Hobart’s first Ashes Test and first international pink-ball match.
The Aussies were unable to claim victory at the SCG last week, but although the whitewash dream is over, Pat Cummins and Co. will be hoping to secure a 4-0 Ashes triumph at Blundstone Arena.
Meanwhile, England is still searching for its first Test win on Australia soil since January 2011 — the Poms have not tasted victory in 14 consecutive Tests Down Under.
The first ball was scheduled for 3pm AEDT, but light rain in the Tasmanian capital has delayed the start of play until 3.30pm.
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Warner falls for a duck
Ollie Robinson has snared the early breakthrough for England, removing the dangerous David Warner for a 22-ball duck.
The pink Kookaburra was seaming viciously off the Hobart deck, and Robinson finally got one to catch the outside edge of Warner’s bat. Zak Crawley made no mistakes at second slip.
It was Robinson’s 10th scalp of the series and Warner’s 10th duck in Test cricket.
The Aussies are one down, and world No. 1 batter Marnus Labuschagne is the new man in the middle.
Final Ashes Test underway
The fifth Ashes Test between Australia and England is underway, and paceman Stuart Broad got the historic fixture underway by falling face first onto the pitch.
The delivery had struck Australian opener David Warner high on the pad, and Broad couldn’t resist turning back for a cheeky appeal.
England wins toss
England captain Joe Root has won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Australia has made one change to its starting XI, while the visitors have swapped out five players due to injury and form.
The first ball will take place at 3.30pm local time — rain permitting.
Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
England XI: Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Sam Billings (wk), Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad
Toss to take place in 20 minutes
Cricket Australia has confirmed that the toss will take place at 3pm local time, in about 20 minutes from now.
Covers coming off
The covers are starting to be dragged off by curators at Blundstone Arena.
Still no official confirmation on a time for the toss.
England debutant handed maiden cap
Wicketkeeper Sam Billings looks sets to make his Test debut at Blundstone Arena, with veteran seamer James Anderson presenting the 30-year-old with his maiden cap before play.
He becomes England’s 700th men’s Test cricketer.
Billings has scored 3327 first-class runs at 34.29, including six centuries and 15 fifties.
Bad news, cricket fans
There’s light raining in Hobart, and the covers are on at Blundstone Arena.
The toss, which was scheduled for 2.30pm AEDT, has been delayed.
Adorable 28-year cricket snap goes viral
Marcus Harris will not feature in the series finale, with Usman Khawaja set to open the batting alongside childhood mate David Warner.
Khawaja has opened the batting on seven occasions at Test level, scoring 484 runs at 96.80, including two centuries and two fifties.
The Queensland captain and Warner have scored 1348 Test runs at the crease together, boasting an average partnership of 53.92.
The Khawaja-Warner bonds extends back 28 years, with the duo playing alongside each other at junior level.
On Thursday evening, Warner posted an adorable image of himself and Khawaja in cricket whites from when they were kids.
“The 90s just seemed way easier,” Warner captioned the photo.
Warner’s wife Candice commented: “What a journey you have both been on to get to where you are. Enjoy the moment and walk out there for those two little boys who used to hit balls against the wall at Waverley Oval.”
Former Australian batter Matthew Hayden replied: “Now that is a priceless pic.”
Khawaja’s wife Rachel responded: “This is too good.”
The post received more than 343,000 likes in 15 hours.
Former Australian U19 assistant coach Matthew Mott, who mentored the pair as teenagers, told The Daily Telegraph: “They both really call it how they see it. Davey will admit he’s quite brash in his openness about how honest he is. If Uzzie is ever asked what he thinks, he won’t say what’s popular, he’ll say what he thinks is right.
“And they’re both really good family men. Having just been down in that (Australian team) bubble, seeing them with their young families that was pretty cool. They’re very good fathers and very good husbands and they’ve got a very strong sense of family.”
Although Harris has been axed from the starting XI, Cummins is adamant the Victorian’s Test career isn’t over.
“The message to Harry is we think he’s going really well. It’s really tough on him,” he told reporters at Blundstone Arena on Thursday.
“Uzzie and Davey have really earned that spot to open the batting, but the reality is they’re both 35 years old.
“While that doesn’t mean anything in the short-term, there will be a day when we need to find some other openers.
“Marcus still absolutely has got a huge future with us. He’ll be, I’m sure around the squad.
“There might even be an Aussie A squad going overseas in the off-season; there will be Shield cricket, county cricket, lots of opportunities.
“This is probably more of a case of someone demanding a spot rather than Marcus losing a spot due to form.
“It’s not too often someone comes in and hits two hundreds in the same game.”
Green Hobart pitch turns heads
When the covers were removed on Friday afternoon, curators were greeted by a green seamer at Blundstone Arena.
The Hobart deck replicated something cricketers would expect to see in New Zealand, with a thick cover of grass.
Seamers from both sides would be licking their lips, particularly considering the overcast conditions in the Tasmanian capital.
“It looks quite green with a nice covering of grass, but it’s quite flat,” former Australian spinner Shane Warne said on Fox Cricket.
“So I think both captains if they win the toss would like to bat first, but I reckon they might want to lose it too because there might be a little bit in this early.”
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