England have the upper hand at the end of the opening day of the Ashes in Brisbane, despite a spirited Australian fight back to leave them on 273-8 at close.
The much talked about Stuart Broad was the star of the show at the Gabba, picking up figures of 5-65 despite the constant booing from the home crowd in Kevin Pietersen’s 100th Test Match.
Things started brightly for Australia as captain Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bat with James Faulkner missing out for the hosts while England’s side was expected with Michael Carberry and Chris Tremett selected and Matt Prior proved his fitness to take his position behind the stumps.
The key period of the day’s play came either side of the lunch break as the hosts fell from 71-1 to 83-4 as Broad ripped through the top order, including the crucial wicket of captain Michael Clarke.
The Nottinghamshire bowler has been the main target of abuse from the Australian media, supporters and even head coach Darren Lehmann in recent months but he produced one of his devastating spells at the Gabba.
After having opener Chris Rogers caught by Ian Bell for just one run, the fast bowler returned to the attack later in the morning session where he dismissed Shane Watson for 22 with Graeme Swann this time taking the catch in the slip cordon. That brought Clarke to the crease but he survived a potentially tricky couple of minutes before the 40 minute interval.
Lunch came at the perfect for the tourist’s as it gave the pace attack to have a rest as Broad came out firing in the afternoon session. Clarke was the next batsman on his way back to the dressing room after he once again failed to deal with a short pitched delivery and all he could do was fend it off to Bell at short leg, departing for one and leaving the hosts on 71-3.
Opener David Warner was holding the innings together and after starting the innings in a positive fashion he slowed down his own pace before becoming Broad’s fourth victim with Pietersen taking the catch. That was his first involvement of note in his 100th Test after receiving a solid silver cap before the days play to celebrate reaching three figures.
George Bailey was the next to the crease on his Test debut and he became the third batsman to fail to make double figures with James Anderson getting in on the act after bowling beautifully in partnership with Broad. Cook held a relatively straightforward catch to dismiss Bailey before he caught Steve Smith for his second dismissal of the afternoon, giving Tremlett a deserved scalp.
Smith went for 31 which brought Mitchell Johnson to the crease on his return to Ashes cricket and he performed admirably with the bat in supporting Brad Haddin. They put on a superb partnership of 114 before Broad claimed his fifth wicket by bowling Johnson who made 64 which included two sixes and six boundaries.
As often happens at any level of cricket, one wicket brings two and Peter Siddle was Anderson’s second victim of the day with Cook taking his third catch as the tail-ender was out for just three runs.
Haddin seemed unflappable though and he ended the day on 78 not out and while the wicket keeper remains at the crease the hosts have a chance of reaching 300 and beyond.
Despite a tough last session, England will be happy with their days work on a flat pitch in Brisbane and with Australia on 273-8 overnight they have the advantage after the opening day of the 2013/14 Ashes.
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