In Review

1st Ashes Test: all you need to know about Australia vs. England at the Gabba

What time does the 1st Ashes Test start, team news, betting odds and predictions

The months of talking, sledging and fevered anticipation are almost over. The England team has been selected for the first Ashes Test against Australia at the Gabba and the action is about to get under way. 

Nicknamed the “Gabbatoir”, the Brisbane Cricket Ground has been a fortress for Australia in recent history. The Baggy Greens have not lost there since 1988, and Joe Root’s side have a huge task ahead of them if they are to get the series off to a positive start.

The first Ashes Test can so often set the tone for the series, so here we look at the main talking points ahead of the opening clash.

When does the match start?

The first of the five-Test series will start tonight at midnight and close of play is expected at 7am tomorrow. For those aiming to pull an all-nighter, Thursday could be a long day at work.

Ashes team news

England have named their team and pace bowler Jake Ball gets the nod ahead of Craig Overton. Australia are yet to confirm their side, but Sky Sports has predicted a probable XI for the hosts. 

  • England’s team for the first Ashes Test: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, James Anderson
  • Australia XI to play England (probable): Steve Smith (captain) David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wicketkeeper), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon
How to watch the Ashes on TV

BT Sport has exclusive rights to the Ashes and will show every ball live from Australia. The broadcaster has announced that Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting will join the punditry team alongside Geoffrey Boycott, Adam Gilchrist, Graeme Swann and Damien Fleming.

For radio listeners, BBC Test Match Special will provide ball-by-ball commentary of all Tests on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and Radio 4 LW. 

Why is the ground nicknamed the Gabbatoir?

The West Indies were the last touring team to win in Brisbane and England last won there in 1986. In its Ashes beginner’s guide, The Guardian sums up why the ground has its scary nickname: “Brisbane Cricket Ground is better known as the Gabba – it being situated in the borough of Woolloongabba – and also, worryingly for England, as the Gabbatoir, due to the regularity with which visiting teams are slaughtered there.” 

1st Ashes Test betting odds

Australia’s impressive record at the Gabba makes them heavy favourites according to Oddschecker. England wouldn't mind the odd bit of rain. 

  • Australia to win 3/4 
  • England to win 11/4 
  • Draw 4/1 
  • David Warner to be man-of-the-match 8/1 
  • Joe Root to be man-of-the-match 12/1
1st Test predictions 

Channel Nine commentator Mark Taylor: “The first Test match at the Gabba – Australia love playing at the Gabbatoir. There’s no better place to start from an Australian point of view than the Gabba, where Australia’s record is very good.”  

Daily Telegraph: “This will be a tricky first match for the visitors. England haven’t won the opening Test of an Ashes series in Australia since 1986 and, indeed, have been on the receiving end of some heavy defeats. We’ll say Australia to win this first Test with England bouncing back in the second.” 

What the captains say

Steve Smith, Australia: “I think we saw last time England came out here a few blokes struggled with extra bounce in the wicket. Hopefully we can exploit that again.”

Joe Root, England: “We’re about due to win here. It’s the reason why Australia play the first Test of a series here because they have such a good record here. But what a way to start the series if we can go one up here. It would really upset the apple cart and could give us a lot of momentum.”


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