Pace will be off the menu for Australia’s batsmen in Adelaide after England announced a 12-player squad for the second Ashes Test without Mark Wood, who was stood down for rest.
Wood was a positive for the tourists during an otherwise disappointing nine-wicket defeat at the Gabba last week, with his 24.1 overs of sustained 90mph speeds returning the prized wicket of Steve Smith for just 12 amid figures of three for 85.
But despite Australia’s batsmen being visibly hurried by the 31-year-old – and David Warner down to play through the pain of a rib injury at the Adelaide Oval – Joe Root and Chris Silverwood, the head coach, have opted to save him for the Boxing Day Test.
With neither country having come back from 2-0 deficit in an Ashes overseas tour, it appears a high-risk strategy to look too far ahead and not least with England confirming that Wood, though admittedly prone to injury in the past, was passed fit to play and the decision is simply “tactical”.
Instead Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad will vie for a return after missing the Brisbane Test, with Jack Leach also retained should Root decide that conditions at the Adelaide Oval demand a frontline spinner.
If Chris Woakes were the seamer to miss out in this scenario it would mean England going into the match with a lengthy tail. As such, it may be that Broad is once again competing for a spot with Leach, the left-armer who was mercilessly targeted by Australia in Brisbane to the tune of 102 runs from just 13 overs.
England 12-player squad: Joe Root (c), Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wkt), Haseeb Hameed, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes
More to follow …