To our live coverage of day one of the first Test in the 2021-22 Ashes series Down Under.
At times it felt like this day might never come given the strict Covid-19 rules in Australia implemented over the past 18 months – but thankfully for all cricket fans the series is going ahead.
In the build-up to the first Test at the Gabba there has been plenty of talk about the weather potentially affecting how much play we are able to see. But the latest Met Office forecast for Brisbane looks OK, with previously forecast showers replaced by dry, overcast conditions. Fingers crossed we get all 90 overs in.
Turning attentions from meteorology to on-field matters, this feels a particularly tough series to call, with two talented – if unpredictable – sides who have both had minimal preparation and could well be undercooked.
Telegraph Sport’s Ashes experts have had a go at predicting the outcome regardless… but our chief sports writer Oliver Brown is the only person who fancies an England win.
A positive start in the Aussies’ Gabbatoir fortress would certainly set the tone nicely for Joe Root’s men – and the return of Ben Stokes gives England a massive boost. But it feels as if Root will have to shoulder the run-scoring burden for his side to have any chance of a first win in Oz for a decade.
Chris Silverwood’s men will mix and match their bowling attack throughout with James Anderson and, presumably, Stuart Broad both likely to feature in the pink-ball day-night Test(s?)
But the main selection dilemma ahead of this game at the Gabba has centred on Broad or Jack Leach. And the latest news on the ground from our chief cricket correspondent Nick Hoult is that the Somerset spinner is favoured to get the nod.
England will leave out Stuart Broad today for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane today barring a late change of mind with Jack Leach winning the race for the final spot in the XI.
Broad will not play unless rain sweeps in this morning and England decide the juiced up pitch requires five seamers or one of the other quicks goes down injured in the warm-up.
The decision to pick Leach over Broad will mean it is the first time they have not selected James Anderson and Broad in the same Test since Dhaka five years ago. It would also mean Broad has to wait for his 150th Test cap.
England confirmed on Tuesday that Anderson is being held back for the Adelaide Test and that Ollie Pope will bat at six with no place in the starting XI for Jonny Bairstow.
Leach has not played Test cricket since March but better weather is forecast for the last two days of the game and Brisbane traditionally a good place to bowl spin, as Joe Root acknowledged on Monday.
Australia have a new captain and how Pat Cummins leads his side could have a huge influence on the result. He may be new to the leadership role but there is plenty of experience among the Aussie XI – not least the newly-appointed vice-skipper Steve Smith.
We will have the toss and team news for you shortly and then over-by-over updates throughout.
If you’re planning to stay up with us in the UK then grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and a decent selection of snacks – and let’s hope for some fantastic Test cricket.