1st test, day 1, and all’s even

After Alastair Cook won the toss, England would have hoped to negotiate the first hour or so without losing an early wicket. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen. Josh Hazlewood had Adam Lyth caught in the slips for just 6, reducing the hosts to 7-1. Gary Ballance then came to the crease, and lasted for a while, with he and Alastair Cook taking the score past 40.

Cook then fell foul to the drinks break, as he was caught behind off Nathan Lyon, Brad Haddin taking a sharp catch. As Ian Bell walked to the crease, many would have been hoping for a significant contribution from him. That was not to be however, as he got an absolute beauty from Starc early on, leaving him plumb in front.

At 43-3, things were looking a bit shaky for the lions. This shakiness didn’t seem to affect Joe Root though, as he came out playing incredibly fluently, guiding England to 88-3 at lunch. He and Ballance then took their partnership past 100, with both making individual fifties. Ballance eventually fell for 61, giving Hazlewood his second ashes wicket. The number three had played a gritty, determined innings, and England fans will hope that it can provide him with some more consistent form.

Root continued to look very convincing as he moved through the nineties, and towards an inevitable hundred. It should be noted that the Yorkshire man was dropped second ball; Australia could yet rue that missed opportunity. Nothing looked to be troubling England’s star man, until he nicked one behind off Mitchell Starc, departing for a sublime 134.

Ben Stokes, while Root had been racing along, was playing in a typically positive manner, striking two maximums on his way to 52. Had he been able to hang around a bit longer it might have been very bad news indeed for the Aussies, but Starc removed him as well with another fantastic swinging delivery. This brought Moeen Ali to the crease to partner Jos Buttler, with the day (and one might suggest innings) very finely poised. The score was 293-6, and liable to go either way.

England will be grateful then, that the two added a solid partnership of 50, pushing the scoring rate up further after the new ball was taken. Annoyingly Buttler fell ten minutes before the close for 27. He looked unimpressed after chipping the ball to mid-on, but the day has t be considered an even one. Stumps at day one of the 2015 saw England finish with 343 on the board, seven wickets down.

All in all, a day of highs and lows for both camps, with England maybe just edging it. While the hosts lost early wickets, and Jos Buttler fell just before the close, they also produced some substantial partnerships throughout the day. If they can get up to and potentially beyond 400, then the bowlers will fancy their chances of making some significant inroads tomorrow.

Incidentally, it’s great to hear the barmy army’s infamous trumpeter back and in fine form.

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