Australia closed on 75 for 4 in response to England’s 215 as seam bowlers dominated the opening day of the Ashes series at Trent Bridge today. Alastair Cook’s decision to bat first in overcast conditions backfired with Peter Siddle claiming 5 for 50 to help dismiss England shortly after tea.
But Steven Finn (2 for 37) and James Anderson (2 for 25) both struck twice with the new ball to revive England in the final session and leave the first Test back in the balance at stumps. With Stuart Broad off the field after being hit on the shoulder while batting, Finn stepped up in style by removing Shane Watson and Ed Cowan in his second over, the fourth of Australia’s reply.
Watson (13) was well held by Joe Root at third slip from a thick outside edge and Cowan (0) sent a low catch to Graeme Swann at second slip after chasing his first ball.
Australia captain Michael Clarke played and missed at Finn’s hat-trick delivery but was soon on his way for a six-ball duck when Anderson knocked back his off-stump with a beauty that drew him into the shot and then left him off the pitch. From 22 for 3, Chris Rogers (16) and Steve Smith battled their way to a 31-run stand only for Rogers – playing his second Test five years after the first – to be undone by a borderline lbw decision.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised the finger to Anderson’s appeal, a verdict that was upheld on review as Hawkeye showed the outside part of the ball to be just clipping leg-stump. Smith (37 not out) and Phil Hughes (7 not out) stood firm through to stumps, which came with Australia trailing by 140.
England lost skipper Alastair Cook (13) and his new opening partner Joe Root (30) during the morning session but appeared in good shape at 98 for 2 at lunch. But Siddle ran through the middle order with four of his wickets in the afternoon session before his fellow seamers James Pattinson (3 for 69) and Mitchell Starc (2 for 54) cleaned up the tail.
All of the top six made starts but Jonathan Trott’s 48 was the top score as the home side handed back the initiative each time they looked to have steadied the innings. Cook edged behind in Pattinson’s new-ball spell and Root was surprised by a Siddle yorker after putting on 51 in good time with Trott.
Kevin Pietersen joined Trott but Siddle pounced in his first over of the afternoon session, Pietersen (14) edging low to Michael Clarke at second slip straight after punching a four through point. Trott’s fluent 80-ball contribution contained nine fours but his attacking intent proved his undoing when he dragged a drive onto his stumps to leave England on 124 for 4.
Jonathan Bairstow led a counter-attack during a 54-run stand with Ian Bell for the fifth wicket before Siddle returned to dismiss Bell and Matt Prior in successive overs. Bell nicked through to Watson at first slip for 25 and Prior (1) was caught from a miscued cut by Hughes at backward point.
England extended their innings for just seven overs after tea. Stuart Broad (24) was caught-and-bowled by Pattinson from a skied pull and Starc bowled Bairstow (37) and had Finn (0) held by Haddin from successive balls.
Last man Anderson prevented a hat-trick with a neat leave but Pattinson polished off the innings in the next over when Graeme Swann (1) poked a catch into the covers. The day began with the surprise news that Australia were handing a debut to 19-year-old left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, preferred to Nathan Lyon despite having played only 10 first-class matches.
Agar, the 16th teenager to wear the Baggy Green, had figures of 0-24 from seven overs. England went with Finn instead of Tim Bresnan as the final member of their bowling attack in an otherwise predictable line-up. (Sky)