Evenly poised after first day of Ashes

Reporter:

Patrick Glover

Our Adelaide-born reporter Patrick Glover is used to watching the Ashes series in the bright sunshine of an Australian summer.

But last night he watched the first ball of the Brisbane test bowled live, but at midnight with it pouring down with rain outside in North Wales. For those of you that couldn’t resist the call of bed and missed the first day of play, Patrick has you covered with a rundown of the first day of the 2017-18 Ashes series.

It was worth the wait as day one of the first 2017-18 Ashes Test provided something for everyone – wickets, runs, rain and a fantastic run-out.

Joe Root won the toss and despite there being a bit of rain about, decided to bat first. By the time openers Alistair Cook and Mark Stoneman made it to the crease, the sun had come out and it was perfect conditions for cricket.

There has been a lot of talk about the Australian bowling line up heading into the test, and their leader, Mitchell Starc wasted no time in making an impact claiming the first scalp of the series, nicking off Cook for just two, with a nice catch taken by Peter Handscombe at first slip.

This brought the inexperienced pair of Stoneman and James Vince together. Both had enjoyed a good lead up to the match, with runs in each of the warm up games, but the fragile and inexperienced English batting line-up had been a concern for the side with the loss of Ben Stokes.

However, these concerns soon disappeared as both batsman settled in, having survived good lines and some short stuff early on, to build a century partnership.

Vince looked right at home at the Gabba, playing some immaculate cover drives off Hazelwood to get himself going, while Stoneman looked solid, despite watching the experienced Cook depart early.

It was clear as the first session went on that the pitch was not your typical Gabba wicket, with a slightly more spongy surface, then the hard, quick one that usually greets any touring side when they step off the plane.

Newly recalled Australian wicketkeeper Tim Paine was taking 90mph thunderbolts from Starc around his ankles, but Nathan Lyon seemed to be enjoying as the day went on getting plenty of turn and bounce at a venue he has been known to love.

The tourists went to the lunch break at 1-59 off 29 overs before rain intervened just after the break causing a halt to play for a little over an hour.

But as play resumed it was the Stoneman and Vince show once again, as the two picked up where they left off before lunch, eventually passing the 100-run partnership.

It was going to take something special from the Australians to get a breakthrough and Paine missed a chance off Lyon to remove Vince on 68, dropping a catch off a climbing ball that grabbed a faint edge from the English batsman.

It was the young, quick Pat Cummins who eventually made the breakthrough, ripping through the defences of Stoneman to remove the opener for 53, with the score at 2-127.

Lucky for Paine, the Aussies didn’t have to wait much longer to remove Vince, with a direct hit run out from Lyon sending the new England number three back to the pavilion for a well made 83 – the highest score of his short international career.

All of a sudden the Aussies had their tails up and when Cummins again struck late in the day to remove skipper Root for 15, after a successful DRS review, the English’s solid start of 1-127 was beginning to look a little more shaky at 4-163.

Dawid Malan (28*) and Moeen Ali (13*) survived the new ball in fading light to make it to stumps on the first day and steer the English to 4-196 at stumps.

The pitch is expected to quicken up on day two, providing a little more for the bowlers but also allowing batsman to play their shots a bit more freely. The focus is now on England’s middle order to see of they can fire without Stokes on a quickening pitch.

Picture Credit: pay-Jason O'Brien/Cricket Australia

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