After all the verbal sparring, the ‘unknown rabble’ that was England took the fight to Australia on the first day of the Ashes series.
England were 196-4 after a rain-shortened day at the Gabba in Brisbane and the verbals had been muted.
After the loss of the well-known opener Alastair Cook in the third over, two of the ‘unknown’ newbies, James Vince and Mark Stoneman, who previously had only one half-century in 10 Tests between them, put on 125 for the second wicket. Stoneman was bowled by Pat Cummins for 53, but it was Nathan Lyon, who had taken over the role as England-baiter in the build-up, who provided the entertainment.
First he produced a brilliant pick-and-throw to dismiss Vince for a career-best 83, and then he showed that superlative spin can be as exciting as 140km fireballs when he tied up the England batsmen in the evening session. It was described as one of the finest wicketless spells of first-day offspin ever witnessed in an Ashes contest.
The loss of Joe Root, lbw to the persevering Pat Cummins for 15, left Moeen Ali and Dawid Malan clinging on until the close. They did so in a gutsy 33-run stand, but when play was controversially suspended moments after a tight lbw appeal from Starc against Malan, the day’s honours had been left more or less even.
Photo: Dave Hunt/EPA/BackpagePix