Australia threatened to take control of the first day of the Ashes series before an unbeaten 64-run partnership between Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow lifted England to 240-5 at tea on Friday in an evenly balanced contest. (More Cricket News)
Root was 66 not out and his Yorkshire clubmate Bairstow had 33. The pair came together after Harry Brook was out in bizarre fashion and captain Ben Stokes lasted only eight balls.
England scored at nearly five runs an over in the morning, but refrained from all-out “Bazball” attack, settling for a mix of some 54 singles and 12 fours, but no sixes to go to lunch on 124-3 against an uncharacteristically cautious Australia.
Brook won’t want to watch a replay of his dismissal — not that he was looking the first time — and Stokes was out for a single to Josh Hazlewood (2-44) in wicketkeeper Alex Carey’s third catch of the innings.
Root and Brook brought up their 50 partnership at almost a run a ball.
Australia needed wickets and broke through, though not in a way it expected. Lyon (2-71) bowled Brook when the batter’s thigh pad sent the ball looping into the air and seemingly away from his crease before dropping centrally and spinning back onto the stumps, with Brook taking no preventive action.
Stokes came into huge cheers and almost got out in the same over, putting his wicket in peril with an ambitious reverse sweep. The captain was caught behind shortly after at the other end, appealed and walked off when the screen showed a definite edge. England was 176-5 and the game moving Australia’s way until Root and Bairstow joined forces.
Zak Crawley (61) was earlier dismissed by seamer Scott Boland off the last ball before lunch. Australia had set mostly defensive fields after losing the toss on an excellent wicket to bat on in hot and sunny conditions. Australia captain Pat Cummins said he would have also batted first, no surprise given his team boasts the top three-ranked test batters in Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head.
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.