Vince falls on stroke of lunch to mar England's solid start


Perth (Australia) (AFP)

England made a solid start to reach 91 for two at lunch on the opening day of the crucial third Ashes Test in Perth on Thursday, but lost James Vince just before the interval.

Alastair Cook, in his landmark 150th Test, again fell cheaply after Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat.

Despite some lively bowling from the Australian quicks, opener Mark Stoneman was impressive and unbeaten on 48, with Root on one at the break.

Stoneman and Vince were aggressive in adding 63 for the second wicket.

However, Vince was caught behind from the bowling of Josh Hazlewood (1-18) in the penultimate over before lunch.

After Root decided not to send the home side in again, as he ill-fatedly did in Adelaide in the second Test, Cook was trapped lbw by left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc for just seven and cut a disconsolate figure as he trudged off.

Former skipper Cook did not review the decision and the scorer of more than 11,000 Test runs has just 69 in the series at 13.80.

Australia, who lead the five-Test series 2-0 and can reclaim the Ashes urn with victory in Perth, made one change, with all-rounder Mitchell Marsh coming in for beleaguered batsman Peter Handscomb.

Australian captain Steve Smith admitted Handscomb, who averages almost 50 with the bat in Test cricket but has battled form and technical woes in the first two matches, was unlucky to be dropped.

Although Marsh is on the comeback trail after a serious shoulder injury, Smith said his ability to bowl was the deciding factor.

England, bedevilled by a spate of off-field alcohol-related incidents in the wake of the Ben Stokes controversy prior to the tour, stuck with the same 11 beaten by 120 runs in Adelaide.

It is the final Ashes Test at the unique WACA Ground, once famed for its pace and bounce but about to be superseded by a new stadium just across the river in Perth.

England have only won one Test at the WACA since the first Ashes clash here in 1970, with the home side having won nine Tests, including the last seven, and three draws.