Day one at the Gabbatoir, Ashes cricket is back baby and it was an absolute vintage first day of an Ashes series! everyone in each other’s faces after months of mudslinging. After winning the toss, Root decided to bat, a decision that looks at the moment to have paid off. However the strong batting day may have been down to how slow the Gabba pitch was.
The hosts seemingly had the game in their hands when they dismissed cook for just 2 with an absolute peach of a ball nipping off the seam and moving away from the ex-England captain for an easy catch at first slip for Handscomb and the perfect start.
This brought in James Vince, leaving him and Mark Stoneman, two players not expected to do well and who have been targeted by the Australian media. Starc immediately got to work on Vince knowing his habit of wafting outside the off stump. This led to what was the first of many Vaughan-esque cover drives throughout the day that bordered on molestation. Both started to settle in but Stoneman still looked slightly edgy flashing a couple off Hazlewood through gully but showed the grit that defined his innings today and would make Jonathan Trott proud before both went on the attack against Hazlewood carting him worse than a Glasgow canal going for 4 an over. Nathan Lyon came on for 3 or 4 overs at the end of the first session keeping the runs down very well despite not really threatening the batsmen at all in a day that would prove to be fantastic for “Gary” as he is now known by.
Vince started to show uncharacteristic composure and concentration converting his technique into solid runs rather than being a highlights player. The pair complimented each other very well going into lunch bringing England from 2-1 to 59-1 after 29 overs, making it England’s session despite the awful start.
Lyons and Cummins opened up the bowling after an almost two hour delay. Stoneman and Vince got to work again, both playing some classy strokes. Vince brought up his maiden ashes 50 not long after the start of the session playing another 3 boundaries through the covers that pretty much sent twitter into meltdown. The pitch being slow definitely benefitted England’s new number 3 who utilised the slow speed of the ball by playing a number of blackfoot shots through the offside. Stoneman got into the act playing a couple of scintillating offsides as Hazlewood started straying in a much improved spell.
Starc came on and it was clear Vince had got to him as he went around the wicket to angle in to the England man bowling some trademark Stark yorkers. Halfway through the session Lyon and Cummins came back on, stifling England’s runs up with a couple of very tidy overs with Lyon almost getting Vince but for Tim Paine the returning keeper who couldn’t get to a fairly routine catch behind the sticks in time, as well as a couple of LBW shouts from the pacemen
Cummins in his best spell of the game dismissed Stoneman just before tea with another absolute beauty of a ball. The first hint of reverse swing all game cutting back in and taking out the opener’s off stump emphatically. This sent the England skipper Joe root in with an over and a half left of the session with Cummins going on the attack and coming close.
Early on in the evening session Nathan Lyon unleashed a deadly throw while completely off balance to dismiss Vince for 83, robbing him off his first international hundred in his Ashes debut, as he tried to scamper a single with root. The Barmy Army were completely silenced by this changing the atmosphere and the game, leaving a few evening overs for Australia to take a wicket and put the game on a knife-edge.
Lyon came back on, still keeping his line and length perfect as well as turning the ball an absolute mile past Malan’s bat a couple times before Cummins took his second victim of the day catching Root on the blackfoot with yet another absolute worldie of a dismissal, but only after a referral.
Moeen. came in and instantly upped the anti hitting an absolute missile of a 6 before Malan joined in giving England some must needed runs before the end of the day. The tourists finished on 196-4 with play being ended due to bad light much to the disapproval of Steve Smith, his team and the crowd with boos reigning down at the decision to end the game midway through the over. The two players of the day were Lyon for Australia for his multiple spells, ruthless economy and maybe 3 bad balls during the day, a day to remember for Gary. And for England, Stoneman and Vince were impressive despite being slated by the media, but Vince played with infinite class today outdoing everyone’s expectations including my own. Definitely England’s day but by no means are Australia on the back foot. The game has been left on a knife-edge and hopefully will set up another classic ashes series.