Joe Root was let off the hook by Peter Siddle and Tim Paine as England made a positive start to the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Siddle, brought back into Australia's side at the expense of Mitchell Starc, should have dismissed England's captain on 24 but put down a simple catch at deep square leg.

The Yorkshireman's wicket would have been a vital one for Australia, with the visitors having struggled to test Root, who moved to 28 not out, or Rory Burns (42 no) following Joe Denly's dismissal.

Australia captain Paine also dropped his English counterpart, failing to hold onto a diving, one-handed attempt as England made it to lunch on 86-1.

Put into bat by Paine, England's Burns and Denly accumulated 27-0 by the end of the eighth over - the highest opening partnership of the series so far.

Things would have been different if in-form Burns had not successfully reviewed Marais Erasmus' leg before wicket decision in the fourth over, though Denly (14) was dismissed five overs later when he edged Pat Cummins to Steve Smith, who held on at the second attempt.

Root swiftly got about his business, clipping Siddle for two boundaries, while Burns fended off Mitchell Marsh.

Cummins bowled Root for a golden duck at Old Trafford, and the world's number one Test bowler should have had his wicket again.

A short ball drew Root into a poor hook shot, but Siddle failed to hold on in the outfield, and Cummins was frustrated once more in his next over.

Root flashed recklessly outside off stump, only for Paine - moving across David Warner at first slip - to attempt an acrobatic catch which went down as England held firm to survive the session.

Mitchell Starc dropped out of Australia's team for the final Ashes Test, with Tim Paine's visitors making two changes.

Australia arrived at The Oval with the Ashes already secure following their 185-run victory at Old Trafford, which gave them a 2-1 series lead.

Having impressed in tour matches, Starc came into the line-up in Manchester, replacing James Pattinson.

However, the 29-year-old paceman - who scored an unbeaten 54 in the fourth Test and took four wickets - did not made the cut for the match that began in London on Thursday, with Australia selecting Peter Siddle instead.

The other change to Australia's side saw Mitchell Marsh replace Travis Head, a switch Paine had revealed in his pre-match news conference on Wednesday.

Paine won the toss on Thursday, electing to bowl first.

Australia team for final Ashes Test: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (captain, wk), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Recalled Australia opener Marcus Harris lasted only a dozen balls as Jofra Archer struck early in the third Test, but the rain returned at Headingley and forced the players off after four overs.

Showers initially postponed the toss and came back shortly after Joe Root had inserted Australia under gloomy skies in Leeds, meaning play did not start until 12:10 local time (11:10 GMT), a delay of 80 minutes.

Root's decision to try to take advantage of the day-one conditions looked wise when an out-of-sorts David Warner played and missed at a series of deliveries from his recent nemesis Stuart Broad, but it was Archer who claimed the first wicket, Harris nicking behind when on eight with the final ball of the fourth over.

Both Warner and the England players followed Harris back in, though, as the rain fell and the covers were brought on with Australia 12-1 as lunch was taken at 12:45 local time.

Harris had been restored to the XI for Cameron Bancroft in one of three changes made by Australia, with Steve Smith – missing following a bout of concussion – and Peter Siddle also replaced by Marnus Labuschagne and James Pattinson.

England, 1-0 down in the five-match series after Australia's win at Edgbaston was followed by a drawn Test at Lord's, were unchanged as opener Jason Roy was passed fit after suffering a blow to the helmet in the nets on Tuesday.

Australia opener Cameron Bancroft was dropped for Marcus Harris at Headingley while Jason Roy was declared fit for an unchanged England, who opted to field first in the third Ashes Test.

Tim Paine's team, 1-0 up in the five-match series after their victory at Edgbaston was followed by a drawn Test at Lord's, made three changes to their XI.

One was enforced as Steve Smith was ruled out on Tuesday following a bout of concussion, and Marnus Labuschagne, his replacement during the game at Lord's, came into the team from the start in Leeds.

The tourists also chose to replace opener Bancroft with Harris and bring in seamer James Pattinson – who featured at Edgbaston – for Peter Siddle.

England had concerns over Roy's availability after he suffered a blow to the helmet in the nets on Tuesday, but he was declared fine to feature following concussion tests.

The toss was put back by 40 minutes due to drizzle on a dull morning and though play was due to commence at 11:20 local time (10:20 GMT), further rain brought the covers back on and delayed the start.

Australia have left out Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood for the first Ashes Test against England, in which the tourists will bat first after winning the toss at Edgbaston.

The exclusion of Starc, the Cricket World Cup's leading wicket-taker, had been predicted in the days leading up to the series opener, but Hazlewood also missed out on selection.

Australia captain Tim Paine confirmed at the toss that James Pattinson and Peter Siddle had got the nod to partner Pat Cummins in his pace attack. Pattinson will be making his first Test appearance since February 2016 after returning from radical back surgery, while Siddle returns having impressed for Essex in the English County Championship.

Starc has struggled to produce his best form in recent red-ball action, but leaving him out still represents something of a gamble from Australia given his outstanding performances during the World Cup in England and Wales.

"It's difficult to leave them out," said Paine of Starc and Hazlewood. "They've been quality performers for a long time but they're going to play a part in the series."

As expected, Cameron Bancroft ousts Marcus Harris at the top of the order, the former returning to the Test arena along with David Warner and Steve Smith following the trio's bans for their roles in last year's ball-tampering scandal. Matthew Wade was picked to bat at six, ahead of Mitchell Marsh.

England named their team on Wednesday. The fit-again James Anderson, who turned 37 on Tuesday, has been included but there is no place for Jofra Archer.

Home skipper Root will bat at number three, having previously expressed a preference for coming in at four.

The opening day's play looked set to start on schedule at 11am local time, but afternoon showers were forecast in Birmingham.

 

England: Rory Burns, Jason Roy, Joe Root (captain), Joe Denly, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.

Australia: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (captain), James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon.

Peter Siddle has faith in Australia's well-balanced squad to cope with whatever is thrown at them during the Ashes series against England.

Tim Paine's side are aiming to become the first touring party from Down Under to triumph on English soil since 2001, though Australia are the current holders of the urn following their emphatic 4-0 triumph in 2017-18.

Siddle was also involved in the past three unsuccessful tours to England, though he believes the current crop are better placed for success in unfamiliar conditions.

"We are a lot more aware of the team set-up and the dynamics we need to win a series in England," the seamer said.

"A couple of the other series I've played in, we haven't been quite suited to the conditions and have gone about it the wrong way.

"But I think, especially with the squad that’s been picked and the players that are in and around the group, we've got a good skill set, so whatever is dished up to us wicket-wise, we will be able to cope and handle what they throw at us."

Siddle's faith stems from the number of Australian players in the 17-man squad who have experienced playing in England.

The 34-year-old acknowledges his time playing county cricket for Essex, where he has taken 34 wickets in eight first-class outings at an average of just 20.08 this year, has helped him to become a better bowler.

"I'm in a good frame of mind – the confidence that I have after the last two seasons over here playing for Essex has put me in a good position to know that I’m comfortable with my game, especially in England," Siddle said.

"I know that if I get the opportunity to play in this series, I'm more ready than ever. I'm definitely bowling a lot better than I have done in these conditions, and that's the best thing that I bring to this team now.

"I've got a pretty good record at Test cricket in Ashes games in England. But my experience over the last couple of years ...I've learned a lot. A lot of new skills and ways to go about it and I can play a big part in this series."

The first Ashes Test begins on Thursday at Edgbaston.

Australia chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns has praised Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for earning their Ashes places on merit.

Former captain Smith, Warner and Bancroft are all part of the 17-man party for the five-Test series against England after serving bans for their part in the ball-tampering scandal that engulfed Australian cricket last year.

Warner and Smith featured throughout Australia's run to the World Cup semi-finals, where they lost to eventual winners England, whereas Bancroft has the opportunity to represent his country for the first time since his nine-month suspension.

The opening batsman impressed in English conditions with Durham this season, scoring two centuries and three fifties as part of an average of 45.37 in County Championship Division Two, while his 93 in Australia's warm-up match this week also decisively caught Hohns' eye.

"David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have forced their way back into the Test squad through the excellence of their recent performances," he said.

"David and Steve also have the advantage of being proven players at Test level, while Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season. His innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding and showed his quality."

Bancroft will contest a place at the top of the order for next week's series opener at Edgbaston, with Joe Burns omitted despite scoring 180 in Australia's previous Test against Sri Lanka, but the tourists' true strength comes in the seam-bowling department.

Pat Cummins tops the Test rankings, while Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood are joined by James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.

Ashes veteran Siddle's maiden tour of England came a decade ago, while his Victoria colleague Pattinson is back in the Test fold for the first time since 2016 – persistent injury woes forcing the paceman to undergo back surgery a year later.

"James Pattinson has demanded inclusion after impressing everyone on the Australia A tour with his pace and control, following on from a good season at home for Victoria," Hohns said.

The focus on pace comes at the expense of spin specialists, with Nathan Lyon the lone representative in that regard, although Hohns expects middle-order batsman Marnus Labuschagne to pick up some of the slack if required.

"We have faith in [Lyon's] ability, we know our strength lies in our pace attack and we have Marnus Labuschagne's leg spin as another spin option," Hohns said.

"He has bowled almost 200 overs for county side Glamorgan in first-class cricket this season."

Hohns added: "We have not won an Ashes series in the United Kingdom since 2001 but we are confident that this group of players can break that cycle and ensure we retain the urn that we won at home in the summer of 2017-18."

Cameron Bancroft has been recalled to Australia's squad for the Ashes series against England.

It is the opening batsman's first selection for international duty since serving a nine-month ban for his part in last year's ball-tampering scandal.

Bancroft impressed with 93 in the tourists' warm-up outing at Southampton on Thursday – a match-winning knock that ultimately sealed his place.

He features alongside David Warner and former captain Steve Smith, with all three taking part in their first Test tour since their actions against South Africa in Cape Town placed their careers at the highest level on hiatus.

Their inclusions mean there is no place for Joe Burns or Kurtis Patterson, despite both men scoring centuries in Australia's previous Test outing against Sri Lanka in Canberra, although Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh are back.

A strong seam bowling department is bolstered by recalls for James Pattinson and Ashes veteran Peter Siddle.

Injury-plagued paceman Pattinson last played in the longest format in February 2016 and will in part fill the void left by Jhye Richardson being ruled out with a dislocated shoulder.

Seam bowling all-rounder Michael Neser is the only uncapped player in the party, with Nathan Lyon the lone spinner for a series where conditions are expected to favour seam.

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