Sport Cricket Ashes: Tight English bowling, dubious decisions leave Australian innings in tatters

Ashes: Tight English bowling, dubious decisions leave Australian innings in tatters

Stuart Broad successfully appeals for the wicket of James Pattinson, shown on replay to be not out. Photo: Getty
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A combination of excellent English bowling, dubious umpiring decisions and poor batting reduced Australia to 8-151 shortly before tea on day one of the First Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

Steve Smith (64 not out) battled hard for a half-century, standing firm as wickets fell all around him as Stuart Broad (4-38) and Chris Woakes (3-34) wreaked havoc with the frail Australian batting line-up.

Peter Siddle was six not out in the 52nd over.

Smith managed to block out Edgbaston’s barrage of boos and an on-target England attack to help Australia reach 3-83 at lunch.

But the home side took control in the post-lunch session to capture five Australian wickets for only 39 runs.

Earlier, the visitors had slipped to 3-35 before Smith and Travis Head dug in, sharing an unbeaten 48-run stand after a frenzied start to the contest.

Smith did not score as freely as Head, who slapped a couple of boundaries off Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes, but looked a picture of concentration in Birmingham.

The former skipper, the only member of Australia’s top order to stand up during the recent World Cup semi-final loss to England at the same venue, steadied in much-needed fashion after the loss of David Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja.

Tim Paine’s correct call of ‘heads’ meant that Warner and Bancroft, both playing their first Test since the sandpaper scandal, were immediately thrust into the middle of a hostile reception.

Warner and Bancroft were back in the pavilion for single-figure scores after just 7.3 overs.

The Cape Town trio were predictably booed at every juncture, while some members of the crowd brandished sandpaper and screamed “cheat”.

Jimmy Anderson, returning from a calf injury that kept him on the sidelines for a month, was a handful with the new ball but it was Broad who did the early damage.

Broad could have dismissed Warner with his first delivery, a leg-side loosener, but Joe Root opted against reviewing the caught-behind shout, which was shown on review to be out.

Broad trapped Warner lbw soon after.

The opener would have been reprieved if he reviewed the decision but Warner brushed past Bancroft and walked off the field, where a heightened security presence was on hand.

Bancroft was watchful early, stroked a couple of nice driven boundaries off Broad, then was out edging as Root gleefully accepted the catch.

Khawaja, returning from a hamstring strain, fell on 13 when Root successfully reviewed a caught-behind shout off Chris Woakes.

It was one of numerous decisions overturned on review or shown to be incorrect when not challenged by the batsmen or bowlers.

The only downside for England was Anderson being taken to hospital for scans on his calf.

The 37-year-old, who is England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, lasted only four overs.

Australia hasn’t won a Test at Edgbaston since 2001, the same year of their most recent Test series win in England.

Siddle claimed the final spot in Australia’s XI as selectors made six changes to the team that crushed Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval in February.

Warner, Bancroft, Smith, Siddle, Matthew Wade and James Pattinson were called up in place of Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Kurtis Patterson, Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson.