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Rain intervenes after Pat Cummins rolls England for 147

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Pat Cummins celebrates a wicket

England’s Ashes campaign began in depressingly familiar fashion as the tourists were skittled for just 147 by Australia on the opening day of the series at the Gabba.

In a moment of instant Ashes infamy, Rory Burns was bowled by Mitchell Starc from the very first delivery of the series, immediately sapping English optimism in Brisbane.

With skipper Joe Root falling for nought, England were 11-3, having opted to bat on a green-tinged pitch offering assistance to the pace bowlers. Australia’s attack was relentless, led by Pat Cummins, who claimed 5-38 on his first day as captain. Jos Buttler mounted an England counter-attack of sorts with 39, sharing a stand of 52 with Ollie Pope, who made 35.

Haseeb Hameed, with a watchful 25, and Chris Woakes, who made 21, were the only other batters to reach double figures.

The miserable batting display detracted from the decision to omit Stuart Broad, joining fellow pace bowler James Anderson on the sidelines, the first time in 15 years England have played an Ashes Test without at least one of them. England were all out by tea, only for a huge storm to wipe out the evening session and prevent the start of Australia’s reply, meaning day two will start at the earlier time of 23:30 GMT.

With the bad weather, Covid restrictions and a lack of preparation for both sides amounting to a unique build-up to the series, a grey morning and half-empty Gabba did little to make this feel like an Ashes opener.

However, after only one ball, England were reminded why they have lost nine of their past 10 Tests in Australia and not won in Brisbane for 35 years.

Like Steve Harmison’s first delivery to second slip in 2006 or Nasser Hussain’s decision to field in 2002, Burns was written into Ashes folklore by a swinging Starc yorker which clattered into leg stump. Should England have chosen to field first? Batting did begin to look easier in the afternoon session, by which time the damage had been done.

There will be questions over the decision to omit both Broad and Anderson, made with the rest of the series in mind, though England may have already suffered a crucial blow.

The last two times England have won series in Australia – 1986-87 and 2010-11 – they have avoided being beaten in Brisbane. It is too early to write them off in both this match and the series, but this is an awful start.

For all of the hope that damp conditions in Brisbane and, later, the prospect of two pink-ball day-night Tests might favour England’s bowlers, the fear that the batting would fail too often was realised at the earliest opportunity. BBC

Thursday, December 9, 2021 – 01:00

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