Ashes 2019: England captain Joe Root to bat at number three in first Test - Joe Denly

Joe Root (left) and England batting coach Graham Thorpe prepare for the start of the Ashes on Thursday
Joe Root (left) and England batting coach Graham Thorpe prepare for the start of the Ashes on Thursday
Men's Ashes 2019: England v Australia, first Specsavers Test
Venue: Edgbaston Dates: 1-5 August Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sport website, plus in-play highlights and text commentary

England captain Joe Root will bat at number three in the first Ashes Test against Australia, fellow batsman Joe Denly has confirmed.

Denly will drop down to four for the opening match of the series, which starts at Edgbaston on Thursday.

"He rang me the other day and told me he wanted to bat three and for me to go in at four," said Denly.

"I think Rooty just wanted to get involved in the game, get up there and get out in the middle."

Australia hold the Ashes after their 4-0 victory down under in 2017-18, but England have not lost an Ashes series on home soil since 2001.

"I'm very excited. I wasn't too fussed where I'd be batting, it's just great to be in the XI," added Denly.

"I've batted at four before for Kent and throughout my career, so it really wasn't a big issue."

Bancroft return would be 'great story'

Australia coach Justin Langer says that batsman Usman Khawaja has been passed fit and will play, while bowlers Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood are "probably" vying for one spot.

Opener Cameron Bancroft could also play for the tourists in what would be his return to the Test squad following the end of a ban for a ball-tampering incident during a match against South Africa in March 2018.

Fellow batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner were also banned for their involvement in the controversy and all three may face England.

Smith and Warner experienced boos when they played in the World Cup in England during the summer and Langer expects Bancroft to get the same treatment.

"It would be a great story if he [Bancroft] comes back into the team," said Langer.

"His development after what happened in Cape Town has been extraordinary.

"We know what the reception is going to be. There's nothing we can do about it.

"We don't know [how he will cope] but we'll find out.

"He's a good kid and as tough as anyone you could meet. To endure the scrutiny of the past 14 months, especially the first part of it, I think he's had a pretty good dress rehearsal."

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