Although there is still much work to do, England have the upper hand after an excellent day of cricket at Edgbaston which saw Australia all out for 136.
Fast bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn tore into the tourists' top order, with captain Michael Clarke falling for ten to leave Australia dangling at 34-3 before lunch. Anderson then put on a bowling master class to take 4-7 in 19 balls to quicken the collapse to 94-7.
Broad and Finn chipped in with two important wickets each, but it was the performance of Anderson that stood out as he claimed his best Ashes figures of 6-47.
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The movement and swing he produced bamboozled the Australian batsmen but did not bode well for the hosts, who had to face the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc on the same pitch in gloomy conditions.
A nervy opening to England's innings saw under-fire Adam Lyth fall early yet again for ten runs. Fortunately for the home side, the ship was well and truly steadied by a well-earned half-century from Ian Bell, who had been moved up the order to number three.
All to play for
After losing two more wickets cheaply, one in particularly strange circumstances as Alistair Cook pulled a shot straight into the arms of Adam Voges a mere five yards away, England finished day one on 132-3.
With Bell looking at one point as if he may forge a century, he would be disappointed to have been caught out for an unnecessary slog so shortly after getting to 50.
It all means that England have a solid platform to build on for the second day of the Third Test, but they will understand that they still need to get a lot of runs before Australia roll over completely. It would be easy to let their guard down and lose some quick wickets in the morning, which would put them right back into peril.
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