Sport Cricket Horror Ashes start for England at Gabba
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Horror Ashes start for England at Gabba

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Australia celebrates Mitchell Starc's first-ball strike on Wednesday. Photo: Getty
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Joe Root’s Ashes tour has begun in disastrous fashion, dismissed for a duck as England slumped to 4-29 in a catastrophic start for the tourists in the first Test at the Gabba.

The captain arrived in Brisbane with six hundreds under his belt in a prolific calendar year that has yielded 1455 runs in 12 Tests, declaring the series a defining one for his career.

But, after winning the toss and opting to bat first under grey skies on a greenish wicket, Root was in and out inside the first half-hour of an action-packed morning.

Mitchell Starc struck with the first delivery of the series, Rory Burns walking across a full delivery that swung back into his leg stump.

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England’s Rory Burns is clean-bowled with the very first ball of the 2021 Ashes. Photo: Getty

Josh Hazlewood then found Dawid Malan’s edge to bring Root to the crease and immediately encourage rival captain Pat Cummins to bring himself into the attack.

Cummins, in his first Test as captain, barely got a look at Root though as the on-song Hazlewood struck again in front of a capacity crowd.

Pressing forward, Root could only edge to David Warner, who took a sharp, low catch at first slip.

England was suddenly 3-11 and Ben Stokes was striding to the crease in his first competitive game of cricket since taking mental health leave in July.

He and opener Haseeb Hameed managed to stem the flow, taking England to 3-24 at drinks.

But Stokes was quickly back in the sheds, to leave England teetering as Cummins claimed the big wicket, caught by Marnus Labuschagne at third slip.

The tourists had earlier made a bold call, leaving Stuart Broad out of the XI in a decision that meant neither he or fellow veteran quick Jimmy Anderson – also omitted despite being fit – would feature in an Ashes Test for the first time since 2006.

-AAP