The Ashes began in 1882 and is one of sports' oldest and bitter match-ups between England and Australia.

Australia's skipper Steve Smith (L) and England captain Joe Root smile as they pose at a media opportunity in Brisbane on November 22, 2017.
Australia's skipper Steve Smith (L) and England captain Joe Root smile as they pose at a media opportunity in Brisbane on November 22, 2017. (AFP)

The war of words that has added spice to the lead-up to cricket's oldest enduring test series will give way to genuine hostilities on Thursday when bitter Ashes rivals Australia and England march out in front of a packed crowd at the Gabba.

A temporary ceasefire was called on Wednesday as Australia captain Steve Smith and his England counterpart Joe Root paused for photos under a blinding blue sky at the Brisbane stadium, but both captains have been looking to land a psychological blow on the eve of the first test.

The customary photo opportunity may have been the only chance to get a clear image from the entire day, with smoke and mirrors employed liberally by the captains during the pre-match media conferences.

TRT World's Samantha Johnson has more.

Root steadfastly declined to name his side but the element of surprise was lost some four hours later when the England and Wales Cricket Board released the team on its website, with Nottingham bowler Jake Ball beating out Craig Overton as the fourth seamer.

Smith had earlier thrown a curveball by saying David Warner, his vice-captain, opener and best batsman, remained in doubt for the test as he battles to recover from a neck strain.

Compounding the drama, Cricket Australia later revealed batsman Shaun Marsh had suffered a back strain at training on Wednesday and was also uncertain for the match.

As to how Australia would deal with Warner's absence, Smith gave no answer.

The board later said all-rounder Glenn Maxwell had been rushed to Brisbane in readiness to slot in if Warner failed to prove his fitness.

Quite how Marsh's potential absence would be covered remains up in the air.

Before the Marsh news broke, Root had said Warner's injury would do nothing to change his team's preparations.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies