England demonstrated its ‘Bazball’ confidence by daring to declare at 393-8 against Australia after Joe Root’s 30th test century on the opening day Friday of the Ashes series. (More Cricket News)
In the four overs England gave itself for a probing bowl, Australia went 14 without loss at stumps and opener David Warner survived his test nemesis Stuart Broad, who opened the attack. Warner was 8 not out and Usman Khawaja on 4.
Root reached his fourth Ashes ton with a single against spinner Nathan Lyon to the delight of the raucous Edgbaston crowd. Root finished on 118 not out, including two sixes against Lyon in the final over before the unorthodox declaration by England captain Ben Stokes.
Root and tailender Ollie Robinson, 17 not out, were comfortable enough to take England past 400, though Australia was set to receive the new ball after two more overs.
Jonny Bairstow scored a 78-ball 78 and opener Zak Crawley hit 61 as England raced along at more than five runs an over to successfully come through the toughest test so far in its year-old ‘Bazball’ era.
Lyon also enjoyed a successful day, taking 4-149 from his 29 overs in hot and sunny conditions on a batting-friendly pitch to extend his overall test tally to 491.
Three entertaining sessions saw Australia appear on top before England rallied each time with key partnerships, including 70 runs for the second wicket from Crawley and Ollie Pope, and 121 runs between Root and Bairstow which lifted England from 176-5 to 297-6.
It still looks like an evenly balanced contest with Australia 379 runs behind but boasting the top three ranked test batters in Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head.
England was 124-3 at lunch — with 54 singles against a defensive field and 12 fours — and 240-5 at tea.
The strangest dismissal of the day ended another useful partnership for England, this time 51 runs for the fourth wicket between Root and Harry Brook (32).
Brook won’t want to watch a replay of his dismissal — not that he was looking the first time. Lyon bowled Brook when the batter’s thigh pad sent the ball looping into the air and out of his sight before dropping right behind him and spinning back onto the stumps. Brook could only grin before walking off.
Australia has not won an Ashes series in England since 2001 but entered the game as the newly crowned world test champion after beating India on Sunday. It hammered England 4-0 in the last Ashes series in 2021-22, meaning Australia needs only to draw the best-of-five contest to keep cricket’s famed urn.
A moment’s silence before the game paid tribute to victims of a knife and van attack in Nottingham, England, including two cricket-loving students.