Tim Paine refused to blame Australia's astonishing Headingley loss on umpire Joel Wilson who failed to spot Ben Stokes was lbw right before he became England's match-winner.

Stokes made an unbeaten 135 and struck the winning runs as England chased down a record 359 in the third Test to claim a one-wicket victory and prevent Australia retaining the urn with two matches to spare.

The all-rounder was part of a last-wicket stand worth 76 with Jack Leach, but Australia were convinced that alliance had been broken when England still needed two runs to win as Stokes was wrapped on the pads by Nathan Lyon when attempting to slog-sweep.

With Lyon shrieking in appeal, Wilson remained unmoved, and Australia captain Paine was unable to call upon DRS having squandered his final review when he unsuccessfully challenged a not-out lbw decision against Leach in the previous over.

Had Australia reviewed the decision not to give Stokes out, umpire Wilson's call would have been reversed and Paine's side would have retained the urn.

Asked if he had seen that replay back, Paine said: "No, I saw it live. That's all I needed to see. I don't want to watch that again."

Wilson came under fire for his poor decision-making in the first Test at Headingley, yet Paine pointed to his own inability to make the correct calls rather than lay the blame at the umpire's door.

"I have no issue with that, we can't control that," Paine said of the umpiring.

"I don't think I've got a referral correct the whole series so I can't sit here and bag the umpires and we have got to focus on what we can control, and umpiring decisions isn't one of them.

"I'm sure it is something that will be written about, but we also had other opportunities to win the game and opportunities on other days with our batting and we didn't take them. So to sit down and single out an umpire is unnecessary, he is no different to everyone else - he is allowed to make mistakes."

However, Stokes was perplexed that the ball tracking even showed Lyon's delivery would have gone on to hit the stumps.

"I have seen the DRS on my lbw shout, which obviously shows up with three reds [for out], but DRS has got that completely wrong as it flicked my front pad first and didn't spin," Stokes argued.

"It shows how crucial it is to make sure you use your reviews. When you get to a situation like that, you still need one.

"If they had one they would have used it and ended up winning. I still cannot believe it was three reds. I thought as soon as it hit me that it was sliding down leg because there was no spin."

Tim Paine admitted Ben Stokes was "too good" for Australia after the all-rounder played one of the great Test innings to help England claim a remarkable win at Headingley that levelled the Ashes.

Australia needed just one more wicket on day four to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series and retain the urn with two matches to play.

But Stokes evoked memories of his heroics in last month's Cricket World Cup final with a scarcely believable 135 not out as England chased down 359 – their highest fourth-innings total in a Test win.

There were more than a few nervy scrapes along the way with Marcus Harris just failing to cling onto a catch when Stokes undercooked one and the England star was given not out when seemingly trapped lbw by Nathan Lyon with Australia out of reviews.

Australia skipper Paine conceded it was a tough defeat to take but played tribute to Stokes' knock and insisted his side can still get the job done in the remaining two Tests.

"It's hard to take, obviously, losing that from that position is difficult but you have got to tip your hat sometimes," Paine said at the post-match presentation after a day of high drama. 

"I thought Ben Stokes played an unbelievable innings and in the end it was too good for us. That's probably the best Test innings I've seen and the rest of the team thought the same thing.

"We thought we had enough runs. I thought our bowlers did a tremendous job [on Saturday] to get us in the position that we were. 

"We thought that if we continued that this morning we'd create enough chances to win the game. In the end we probably did but Joe Denly and Joe Root [who made a century stand on day three] were both excellent and kept them in the hunt.

"Overall I thought it was a terrific Test match. When Ben is at the crease you are always worried. 

"There are always probably things you could have done differently but cricket is a game of inches. But it's not the end of the world. 

"We are here to win the series and we've still got two opportunities to show what we're made of."

Tim Paine is not expecting any change in Steve Smith's attitude or application once Australia's talisman returns to action.

Smith will miss the third Ashes Test at Headingley having suffered a delayed concussion after taking a blow to the neck from a fierce Jofra Archer delivery on Saturday.

The 30-year-old, who will be replaced in Leeds by Marnus Labuschagne, has been the form player during the series, hitting 144 and 142 in Australia's win at Edgbaston before tallying 92 at Lord's - coming back out to bat after initially retiring hurt.

Smith hopes to be back in time for the fourth Test, with Paine holding no concerns over the former captain's ability to come back strongly following the setback.

"He's been in really good form, he's been playing really well, so he's disappointed not to be playing," Paine told a news conference.

"He along with the rest of our group understand why he isn't [playing]. Steve loves batting, I don't think that’s going to change.

"Steve's the best player in the world, he will come back in the next Test, if it's the next Test or the tour game [against Derbyshire, which starts on August 29], and we're expecting him to be the same old Steve Smith.

"He's a high-quality player and he'll adapt as he always has."

While Labuschagne's place in the side has been confirmed for the third Test, Paine opted not to give any details to the media over the rest of the XI on the eve of the match.

Tim Paine wants Australia to fill the void left by Steve Smith as a team when they attempt to take an unassailable lead in the Ashes.

Australia can move 2-0 ahead and retain the urn with victory in the third Test at Headingley, which starts on Thursday.

However, they will have to do without talisman Smith, whose sensational series has been halted at least temporarily by a concussion he suffered when he was struck by a Jofra Archer delivery in the drawn second Test at Lord's.

Smith scored centuries in both innings in Australia's win at Edgbaston and made 92 at Lord's before being trapped lbw by Chris Woakes after returning following his head injury assessment.

He did not bat in the second innings and Marnus Labuschagne excelled as his concussion replacement, his 59 helping Australia save the match.

The first ball Labuschagne faced saw him struck by Archer, but he was composed thereafter and will take Smith's place after the former captain was ruled out.

Paine, though, does not want the burden of replacing Smith to be entirely on his shoulders.

"He's strange," Paine said of Labuschagne at a media conference. "He seems to enjoy getting hit on the head.

"We do it [replace Smith] as a team. Clearly, they're huge shoes to fill. We want our senior players to make sure we give that little bit more output, cover Steve the best we can."

Asked about Smith's reaction to his enforced absence, Paine replied: "He's disappointed obviously, but he along with the rest of the group understand why he isn't [playing].

"There's a strong medical process in place, Steve has to tick a lot of boxes [to make sure he's ready to play in the fourth Test]."

Much of the build-up to the match has focused on how Australia are to handle Archer, whose superb second-innings spell saw him take 3-32 in one of the most exciting Test cricket debuts of recent memory.

Paine insists Australia are prepared for more of the same at Headingley, adding: "We copped some short pitch bowling, guys have got plans in place and we've prepared really well for it, it's now about going out and executing.

"When someone is bowling fast and the crowd's up and about it's exciting. It's great for Test match cricket, the interest it's sparked in the last week, 10 days is great for the game. We're looking forward to the challenge again this week."

The skipper also indicated Australia will alter their attack, with the pitch not expected to provide as much help for the seamers. 

"We're obviously looking at maybe a bowling change," said Paine. "Whatever line-up we pick we expect the guys will be able to handle it [the pitch] or adapt to it quickly."

Tim Paine expects to see "the very best David Warner" in the third Ashes Test, believing the opener will thrive with the responsibility that comes with Steve Smith's absence.

Australia star Warner has endured a dismal series so far in England as he returns to Test cricket following a 12-month ban for his role in the team's ball-tampering scandal.

The 32-year-old has made just two, eight, three and five in his four Ashes innings as Smith, who was also suspended for a year, has done the heavy lifting to give the tourists a 1-0 series lead.

But Smith will be missing at Headingley this week due to the concussion suffered when he took a Jofra Archer bouncer to the neck in the second match at Lord's.

Warner, a senior figure, is among those under pressure to step up, and captain Paine foresees him doing exactly that.

"I'm very confident [Warner will return to form]," Paine said. "I've spoken a lot about the fact he averages close to 50 in Test cricket [46.9] and he's done that over a long period of time.

"I think with Steve missing this game, it might be the little poke and prod that Davey needs. He likes that responsibility.

"And my experience with Davey is that, when people doubt him and his back is against the wall, he comes out swinging. I'm expecting the very best David Warner this week."

Australia were dealt a huge Ashes blow on Tuesday when Steve Smith was ruled out of the third Test at Headingley.

Smith has been in quite incredible form in England, with knocks of 144 and 142 at Edgbaston as the tourists took a 1-0 lead, before following up with 92 at Lord's.

But with Smith suffering a concussion at the Home of Cricket, Australia could only battle bravely to a draw and the series remains tantalisingly in the balance.

Smith is not fit to feature in Leeds and England will understandably be eager to take on a batting order missing its brightest star.

Who could step up for Australia and prove they are not a one-man show? We take a look.

 

DAVID WARNER

Warner, like Smith, is playing Test cricket for the first time since a 12-month ban for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

But unlike Smith, the former vice-captain has performed dismally, failing to rediscover the form that made him one of the world's best openers.

The 32-year-old has a career Test average of 46.9, but he has yet to manage double-figures across four innings in this series.

Hugely underwhelming efforts of two, eight, three and five have seen him depart three times to Stuart Broad, before Jofra Archer got him on day five at Lord's.

Without the security of Smith at number four, Warner simply must be better.

 

CAMERON BANCROFT

It says much for Smith's sensational form that Australia lead the series, away from home, despite neither of their openers firing.

Warner has been dismal with the bat, but Bancroft - another back in the Test fold following suspension - has fared little better.

Bancroft has a far more modest reputation than Warner, but he has the talent to perform at a far higher level than he has shown in the past two matches.

The 26-year-old was in excellent form for Durham while his team-mates were in Cricket World Cup action, yet that has not translated to the Test scene.

Knocks of 13 and 16 at Lord's were poor and yet considerable improvements on eight and seven at Edgbaston.

 

TIM PAINE

Paine might be the captain in name, but his leadership qualities have been questioned with Smith, the former skipper, back in the mix.

However, with Smith out, Paine must step up in more ways than one. Leading by example with the bat would certainly be a good start.

While Smith has been smashing centuries, Paine has mustered just 66 in total across four knocks.

His poorest total of all so far (four in the second innings at Lord's) came when Australia needed their captain most, digging in to reach the end of the day - even if Joe Denly took a remarkable catch.

There will be more pressure in the third Test, where England will have their tails up, and Paine must step up this time.

 

SOMEONE ELSE...

It was Smith's direct replacement Marnus Labuschagne, the concussion substitute, who stepped up in his absence at Lord's, contributing a vital 100-ball 59.

Labuschagne will surely get the opportunity to impress again in Leeds, but Australia really should have enough batting talent in their ranks without needing to call on a deputy.

Usman Khawaja (career average 41.4) has made 13, 40, 36 and two. Travis Head (49.9) has been slightly better with 35, 51, seven and a brave unbeaten 42. Both could improve.

Matthew Wade's series has been ludicrously inconsistent: one, 110, six and one. More single-figures will be damaging next time out.

There are plenty of men capable of stepping into the void, but that might be easier said than done when Smith is gone and Jofra Archer is hitting his stride.

Australia captain Tim Paine lauded Marnus Labuschagne's commitment to the Ashes cause as Steve Smith's concussion replacement produced a gritty half-century in his side's draw with England.

Paine's team were set 267 to win inside 48 overs on the final day at Lord's after the hosts declared on 258-5 following a century from Ben Stokes (115 not out).

However, they were more concerned with batting out the day when Jofra Archer swiftly removed David Warner and Usman Khawaja to bring Labuschagne to the crease.

The 25-year-old was only thrust into the action as the first concussion substitute in Test history after Smith withdrew having been struck on the neck on Saturday by a bouncer from Archer, who then delivered a 91.6 miles-per-hour rocket that flew into Labuschagne's helmet grille and knocked him to the ground.

After receiving treatment on the field, Labuschagne went on to make a valuable 59, sharing an 85-run stand with Travis Head (42 not out) that took the game beyond England's reach – Australia eventually finishing with 154-6 to retain their 1-0 series lead.

"[It was] really pleasing for us to see him do that, particularly after the second ball he copped," Paine, speaking to Sky Sports, said of Labuschagne. 

"To get 150 kilometres per hour in the face and be able to stand up and play the way he did, for such a young player in Test cricket, was fantastic. Travis Head was the same."

Smith had returned to bat on Saturday following assessment from Australia's medical staff, yet it was confirmed on the final day that he would play no further part in the Test having displayed concussion symptoms in the morning.

Australia have said it is unlikely that their talismanic batsman will feature in the third Test, which begins at Headingley on Thursday.

"He's okay," Paine revealed.

"Obviously it was a really nasty knock. He felt okay yesterday and then, as concussions tend to be, [the symptoms were] delayed. He woke up, not feeling at his best today, so the decision was made to leave him out."

Asked whether he was happy that Smith was able to return on Saturday, Paine added: "I'm no doctor but we've got some professionals behind the scenes that make those decisions.

"Steve passed all his tests [on Saturday], was feeling okay. He deteriorated a little bit overnight, he retested, they weren't as good this morning so the medical professionals made that call.

"He will need to improve [to play at Headingley], there's no doubt about that, but hopefully for our sake he does improve in the next few days."

Tim Paine has explained the decision to rest James Pattinson for the second Ashes Test is to look after the Australia paceman's long-term prospects.

Pattinson contributed to a 251-run win over England at Edgbaston in the series opener, but he was left out of a 12-man squad on Tuesday for the second contest at Lord's.

However, given Pattinson's past injury problems - his appearance in the opening Test was his first in five-ball cricket since February 2016 - Paine insists Australia were not willing to take a risk.

The tourists' captain told the media Pattinson was always likely to have to miss a match at some stage and the opportunity to bring in either Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood made the decision easier.

"We have two world-class bowlers on the sidelines and we want to make sure that James is absolutely cherry ripe every time he plays," Paine told a news conference.

"He's available for selection, but we've decided to rest him for this game to make sure that his long-term future is in really good shape.

"It was always going to be one way or the other. He would either miss this Test and be fresher for the third Test, or he has this one after the long break and doesn't play the third.

"I think if you look at Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood's records at Lord's, that's a good venue for one of them to come in and play and be confident in the fact that they can bowl really well here."

Given Australia's strength in depth, England captain Joe Root expected such a call was likely to be made at some point.

"I was and I wasn't [surprised]," he said. "With the squad of bowlers they have, over the course of a five-match series, they are going to chop and change things over, try to find different formulas for different surfaces and conditions.

"I'm not surprised they've gone with those two added to the squad."

Joe Root is excited by the prospect of seeing Jofra Archer begin his England Test career against Australia in the second Ashes Test.

Archer has been named in a 12-man England squad ahead of the clash at Lord's, having missed the opener in which the hosts were thrashed by 251 runs.

There is huge attention on Archer as he prepares to make his bow, with the electric paceman set to replace the injured James Anderson, yet Root does not see the pressure getting to his young star.

The supremely confident Sussex bowler has not played a first-class match since last September but is being backed to deliver.

"He's very confident - as he should be," Root told a news conference. "As he's made very clear, it's his preferred format with the red ball. I'm very excited to see him at the beginning of a journey.

"As I've said, he's a very confident young guy and things like that [his first-class lay-off] don't seem to phase him.

"I think he's proven that throughout the World Cup, coming in and dealing with that right at the last minute, and all the pressures that held. He doesn't want to shy away from stuff like that.

"If anything, I think it'll motivate him. When he gets his chance, he'll be desperate to prove to everyone how good he is, as he says he is."

Asked if Archer could be the decisive factor in the series, Root replied: "We'll have to wait and see. If you ask him, he'll definitely say yes.

"But that's what you want - young guys coming in, full of confidence and belief in their own ability. He's someone who definitely won't shy away from any challenge.

"It's great to have someone like that in the dressing room. He feeds off the rest of the guys as well. It's a great position for him to start in."

However, Australia captain Tim Paine is hoping Archer's past performances in the Big Bash League have prepared the tourists for this week's Test.

"That's Test cricket. A lot of our guys have seen Jofra or faced him, which is a plus," he said. "Obviously it's been in white-ball cricket, but we've actually faced him in Australia, where conditions really suit fast bowling.

"I think we've seen him at his fastest, guys know what to expect, they know how skillful he is and how good he is.

"Like most bowlers that play Test cricket, there are going to be times where he's going to be a real threat and we have to weather that.

"[The focus on Archer] doesn't bother us, to be honest. We're focused on what we have to do - not the expectation around Jofra and whether he can handle that or not.

"I don't know. I don't think he'll worry, from what I know of him. I think it's exciting. It adds to the Test match and adds to the atmosphere."

Tim Paine says Australia's drawn tour match with Worcestershire was not Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood's audition for the second Ashes Test.

Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle got the nod along with Nathan Lyon as pace duo Starc and Hazlewood missed out for a series-opening win over England at Edgbaston.

Starc and Cummins were back in action for the three-day tour match at New Road this week, taking 2-56 and 3-34 respectively in Worcestershire's 201-9.

The quicks were unable to make any further impact on the final day as only 13 overs were bowled due to rain, with Marcus Harris making 67 and Mitchell Marsh unbeaten on 39.

Australia captain Paine says the experienced Starc and Hazlewood did not have a point to prove against the Pears ahead of the Lord's Test, which starts next Wednesday.

Paine said: "We knew that any combination of our bowlers can get the job done. We've got some high-quality bowlers on this tour, today wasn't about seeing anything that we hadn't seen from those guys before in this match.

"We know how good the guys sitting on the sidelines are. They'll play a part in the Ashes, if and when the conditions suit. 

"We weren't looking at Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc thinking, 'I hope they bowl well'. We know how good they are and what they can do.

"Mitch is obviously coming off a World Cup, so it's good for him to get another red-ball bowl. Josh has said he feels every time he's bowled on this tour, after a long lay-off, he's got better.

"I thought both of their first spells here were really good and Michael Neser the same, in English conditions with the Dukes ball he can be a real handful."

On Friday, England tweaked their squad as they look to level the series in London.

Left-arm spinner Jack Leach replaced the out-of-sorts Moeen Ali, while World Cup star Jofra Archer is in line for a Test debut in place of the injured James Anderson (calf).

Tim Paine backed Nathan Lyon to keep bowling "as long as he wants to" after his star showing on day five of Australia's victory over England in the opening Ashes Test.

Steve Smith's second century of the match and three figures from Matthew Wade on Sunday meant England needed to bat out the day on Monday to avoid defeat at Edgbaston.

But the day-five conditions were perfect for a spinner of Lyon's quality and he took 6-49 to help dismiss the hosts for just 146.

In the process, Lyon became just the fourth Australian to rack up 350 Test wickets and captain Paine waxed lyrical about his quality.

"He could get plenty [of wickets] for as long as he wants to go for I reckon, he doesn't seem to have too many injuries or niggles over his career," he said. 

"The ball is coming out better than ever, he's a bit like Smithy [Steve Smith], every Test match or series they seem to get better – it's astonishing at their age. 

"If you see them train you see why, they're a great example to the group."

Steve Smith and David Warner were playing their first Test since their respective involvements in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal that shocked cricket last year.

And Paine welcomed having the experienced duo back in the dressing room.

"Yeah it certainly helps. As I said before the game those guys have played a lot more cricket in England than I have and more big tournaments and big series than I have," he added. 

"The same goes for all of our team, it's not only helping me with way they lead our group. We're all tapping into them whether captain, coach or batting coach.

"They have things they've learnt through experience that others don't know. We'd be foolish not to tap into that, they've still got a huge presence in our dressing room there's no doubt about that."

Australia captain Tim Paine hailed Steve Smith as "probably the best Test batsman we've ever seen" after the tourists completed a 251-run hammering of England in the Ashes opener.

Paine's side stole a march in the five-match series thanks largely to the heroics of former captain Smith, who made centuries in both innings on his first Test back since a ban for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked cricket.

Smith's efforts in the first innings proved particularly important as he helped Australia recover from a perilous position of 122-8 to 284 all out.

And Paine, who replaced Smith as skipper, is running out of superlatives for Australia's key batsman.

"I thought we were certainly up against it at that stage [122-8] but we had the best player in the world at the crease," Paine said of the man of the match at the presentation. 

"Steve showed his class in both innings. We're running out of things to say about Smithy. He's probably the best Test batsman we've ever seen. We're lucky to witness it."

Smith's second century coupled with a three-figure score from Matthew Wade on Saturday left England chasing the unlikeliest of targets at 398.

Nathan Lyon took centre stage on a deteriorating pitch on Monday as his 6-49 helped dismiss England for just 146.

"Nathan bowled superbly but our three quicks took a lot of pressure off him at the other end as well. The seamers were sensational," Paine added. 

"We thought we could improve on our first-innings performance with the ball. All those guys are world-class performers. This morning all four of them were sensational.

"We know every Test we play in England, the crowd will be against us. I thought the guys handled themselves really well and we've come out on top."

Smith was banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia for his part in the Newlands scandal and he reflected on an emotional week.

"Maybe a while ago I thought that [he wouldn't be playing again] but I'm really grateful to be back here playing for Australia, scoring runs, doing what I love and contributing to wins," Smith said. 

"It's been a pretty special comeback. I'm over the moon to be standing here.

"It's been a long 18 months for me and my family and friends and they helped me through it back home. I'm really thankful for that. I don't know if it's really sunk in yet.

"It's been a hell of a six weeks. I've really enjoyed playing here in the World Cup then this Ashes series is the ultimate challenge for an Australian and English cricketer."

Tim Paine believes the Ashes provides Australia with a perfect opportunity to prove they have settled into a more mellow demeanour.

Following the 2018 ball-tampering scandal which resulted in Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steve Smith – Paine's predecessor as captain – being suspended, Cricket Australia demanded a review of the team culture.

Bancroft, Smith and Warner all returned to Australia's Test squad for the first time for the Ashes, which starts at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Despite England all-rounder Ben Stokes expressing doubts over Australia's friendlier approach, Paine believes his side can prove they have changed for the better since the controversy in March 2018.

"Every time we play now it is [a chance to do that], there's no doubt about that," Paine told a news conference.

"We want Australian cricket fans and Australian people to be proud of their cricket team. Every time we walk out on the field that's what we're aiming to do.

"We're also aiming to win and be as competitive as people expect of an international cricket side. That's how we're going to go about it.

"Our guys understand what's expected of them. We're role models not just for Australian people but all round the world."

Paine has urged his team-mates to remember a quote widely attributed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill despite there being no evidence he said it.

"There has been a quote going around our changing rooms this week from Winston Churchill actually, and that's that behaviour doesn't lie," Paine added.

"We can talk all we like about how we're going to behave. Ultimately you guys will see how we behave and judge for yourself."

England captain Joe Root explained his increasing ease with being the team's leader motivated his decision to move up to number three in the batting order for the Ashes.

Root will come in at first wicket down as England look to wrest control of the urn from rivals Australia over the next seven weeks.

There has long been a clamour for the 28-year-old to take on that high-pressure role, given his status as the most gifted batsman in a team that frequently loses cheap wickets at the top of the order.

Having captained England to a 4-0 defeat in Australia 18 months ago, Root's growing assurance as skipper helped persuade him to take the plunge.

"I think it's important that we spread the experience out. It gives me the opportunity to lead from the front as well," he told a pre-match news conference on the eve of the highly anticipated series opener at Edgbaston.

"I also feel now that I'm in a place where I've got my head around dealing with the captaincy and my batting – being able to separate the two.

"Hopefully it's an opportunity for me to make an impact at the top of the order."

Joe Denly came into the England side as an opener for this year's tour of the West Indies, meaning he will take on his third batting spot of a four-Test career in Birmingham to accommodate Root's elevation.

Jason Roy backed up his blistering World Cup form with a half-century on his debut in the longest format against Ireland at Lord's last week, but Surrey colleague Rory Burns – himself a Test debutant in Sri Lanka last November – has failed to reach 30 in his past six international innings.

As a collective, it does not present the most intimidating prospect to Australia's much-vaunted seam attack, but Root is confident of their prospects and placed an onus on Roy to take the attack to the tourists.

"I think it's a very exciting top order," he said. "I want Jason to go out and play in his own manner.

"Naturally he has the ability to put any bowler under pressure at any given time. That's very exciting.

"The most import at thing is that as a group we keep things very simple and are focused and continually work hard on those big partnerships that contribute to winning."

Another World Cup hero, Jofra Archer, must wait for his Test bow after James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes were named as England's frontline seam attack.

The 24-year-old fast bowler was England's leading wicket-taker but needed a post-tournament lay off due to a side strain, with Root keen not to risk his fitness as the games come thick and fast in a compressed five-match series.

"Jofra's obviously coming back from quite a serious injury," he said.

"We looked at the conditions and we made a decision on what we thought was best going to take 20 wickets here.

"It also allows him time to get absolutely ready and fit and make sure his workload is up and ready to go for later on in the series if he needs to make an impact."

Australia have named former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft together in their squad for the first time since the trio served suspensions for their part in a ball-tampering scandal.

Smith's successor Tim Paine used his briefing to talk up the high standards of behaviour set in his regime – albeit by mistakenly attributing a quote to Winston Churchill – but Root feels such matters should not be a focus of the England dressing room.  

"We'll see how that unfolds over the course of this series, but their behaviour doesn't really concern me," he added.

"My concern is we go about things in our own way, we know what we're about as a side and how we want to go about things. 

"It's really important we look after that and don't get too wrapped up in how they play their cricket."

Tim Paine insists he has no need to justify his place as Australia's captain heading into the opening Ashes Test against England.

Australia and England clash in the first Test of the five-match series at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Paine was named Australia's captain after Steve Smith was stripped of the role after the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.

The wicket-keeper has scored only one first-class century in his career and some doubts have been raised over his role, but he feels no need to fear his place despite Smith's return to the team, alongside former deputy David Warner.

On the eve of the Ashes, asked if he felt he had to justify his position, Paine told reporters: "No, I do not at all. I'm 34, I don't really care about my place in the side any more. I'm here to do a job.

"I've been put in this team to captain and wicket-keep to the best of my ability and at 34, if you are looking further ahead than the next Test match you are kidding yourself.

"I'm not going to waste time looking over my shoulder. I'm enjoying the job that I'm doing."

Australia regained the Ashes in style on home turf in the 2017-18 series, winning 4-0, but they have not won a Test series on English soil since 2001. 

Paine, though, feels this Australia squad are capable of retaining the urn against an England side struggling for consistency in the longest form of the game.

"[The Ashes] means a hell of a lot. Every time you play Test cricket against anyone it's a real honour to be out there representing your country," Paine said.

"The history of the Ashes takes that to another level. We are excited, we have an opportunity to come to England and do something that even some of our great teams haven't managed to do in the last 20 years.

"We have the self-belief that we can do it. Everyone can't wait."

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