December 26, 2017 / 3:18 AM / 6 months ago

Cricket: Australia win the toss, to bat in fourth test

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bat in the fourth Ashes test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

Australia have already regained the Ashes after they won the third match in Perth at the WACA to give them an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

The MCG’s drop-in pitch is set to bake in warm summer weather in the opening days and Smith said it looked like a good wicket for batting.

“(It was) Probably ready about four days ago. It’s been sitting on the roller. Looks like a pretty nice wicket. Hopefully we can post a big first innings total,” he said.

“Pressure is off a little bit having won the Ashes. At the same time we want to keep winning. We want to make it a habit.”

Smith’s side made one change, with right-arm pace bowler Jackson Bird coming in for the injured left-armer Mitchell Starc.

England also made one change from the side that lost the third test by an innings and 41 runs with pace bowler Tom Curran making his debut after Craig Overton was ruled out with a broken rib.

“Very excited for him,” Root said of Curran. “He’s very excited himself. He’s real competitor. Looking to see how he goes about it.

“Still plenty to play for in the series. If we can go away with two wins at the back end of this tour we’ll be happy.”

Australia team: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith (captain), Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine

England team: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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