A total of 14 wickets fell on the opening day of the first Investec Ashes Test, as England and Australia went to battle for the first time this summer.
Peter Siddle impressed throughout for the visitors, his 5-50 the leading light in an aggressive attack that reduced England to 215 all out. Not to be overshadowed, the English reply was unrelenting, two apiece for Finn and Anderson leaving Australia rocking on 75-4 by the end of the final session.
The first shock of the day came in the form of nineteen-year-old Ashton Agar, whose inclusion left eyebrows raised throughout, shortly before Cook won the toss and elected to bat on an overcast day.
Another youngster in the limelight, Joe Root, took to the crease alongside his captain, but it was Cook who fell first, caught behind by Haddin. Root continued to build alongside Trott, 41 runs added before he fell foul of Siddle’s yorker. By lunch Pietersen and Trott had navigated to 98-2, affording the home side a slight early advantage.
The lunch break, however, saw off that advantage as shortly after returning, Siddle found Pietersen’s edge, nicking his delivery to Michael Clarke. The same man accounted for Trott, chopping an outswinger onto his stumps just two shy of another 2013 half century.
Jonny Bairstow must have been nervous entering the field, but an entertaining battle with Agar followed, while the Yorkshireman punished any wayward quick deliveries. It took that man Siddle to return to the attack before anything else budged, this time seeing off Bell via his outside edge to Watson in first slip. When Prior swiftly came and went for 1, England were wobbling on 180-6.
Broad and Bairstow saw the session through, and after a slice of cake Australia attacked once more, including a spicy exchange between Broad and Pattinson, the latter going for Broad’s body. It was the fiery Australian, brother of former Notts teammate Darren, who had the last laugh as Broad hooked a bouncer straight in the air, easily held by the bowler.
At 213-7, there was still scope for a respectable total on a wicket that looked flat and dry, but Bairstow was bowled soon after by Mitchell Starc for no addition. When Steven Finn edged the next ball to Haddin, a review was inevitable, though hopeful. Also incorrect, gifting Starc a chance at a hat-trick with a ball at Jimmy Anderson. The incoming man, however, watched the delivery sail past well his off stump.
After a few nervy minutes, the innings came to a close at 215, Swann pushing harmlessly to Hughes off Pattinson, the last four wickets coming for two runs in the space of 14 balls. Siddle (5-50) the pick for Australia, with contributions from Pattinson (3-69) and Starc (2-54) accounting for the rest.
In reply, Steven Finn attempted to repeat Starc’s exploits. A full delivery saw Watson edge straight to Root, and with the next gave returning Ed Cowan a less than fond memory of Ashes cricket at Trent Bridge. Swann gratefully took the ball, flying off the edge, and his hat trick attempt at Clarke evaded the off stump by just the finest of margins. 19-2, and game on.
Three runs later, the visiting plight deepened, captain Clarke finding himself on the receiving end of a truly stunning Anderson delivery, which nipped the top of off stump and sent him to the pavilion for a second consecutive duck. 22-3.
Chris Rogers and Steve Smith were tasked with rebuilding, and the pair took Australia over the fifty mark, before Anderson beat Rogers’ bat, but not his pad. The appeal was huge, and when the finger was raised the batsmen reviewed, only to see the delivery cannon across leg stump on the big screens and Australia tottered on 53-4.
With Broad nursing the blow to his shoulder inflicted by Pattinson, Graeme Swann took the ball, only to be launched for six by Smith in his first over. The pair added a further 14 runs before stumps at 75-4. A day for the bowlers, and with the weather set to be improving later in the week, the second day’s play will be crucial.