Swing, nerves and uncharacteristic mistakes with the bat defined the first day of the 2013 Ashes series, as 14 wickets fell at Trent Bridge.
England captain Alistair Cook won the coin toss and elected to bat—the sensible decision given the state of the wicket, even with the cloud cover. Batting first was seen to be a big advantage, but a series of errors from their batsmen saw England bowled out for a surprisingly paltry 215.
Cook was the first to go, playing a loose drive off James Pattinson and edging it to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Despite that and the dismissal of Joe Root—who looked impressive in his debut as an opener, with a knock of 30—England made it to lunch on 98-2. Then Peter Siddle started.
Kevin Pietersen can provide moments of brilliance and frustration in almost equal measure; on Wednesday he showed off the latter, nicking an outswinger to slip. Siddle was in imperious form, ending with figures of 5-50 and becoming only the fifth Australian since the Second World War to take a 5-fer on the opening day of the Ashes.
He got more help from Matt Prior, though, whose feeble cut at a wide delivery was slapped straight to Phil Hughes at point. At this point, England were 180-6, but if the batting was nervy at the top of the order, it was woeful at the tail.
From 213-6, Australia bowled out the hosts and surrendered just two more runs, a spell highlighted by a hat-trick attempt from Mitchell Starc. He finished with 2-for-54. Ashton Agar, Test debutant at the age of 19, allowed 24 runs in his seven overs.
After disappointing with the bat, England needed to fight back with the ball. That they did.
Aussie opener Shane Watson, whose three boundaries had accounted for 12 of his 13 runs, attempted another drive at Stephen Finn and nicked it to slip. Ed Cowan embarrassed himself on the very next delivery, unable to resist a drive on a full ball and finding only the hands of Graeme Swann at second slip. Finn didn't get his hat-trick—though he came close—but the damage was done and the Trent Bridge crowd had been awoken.
James Anderson produced the delivery of the day to dismiss captain Michael Clarke for nought, a ball which angled in and clipped the top of off stump. It was the second time in his last three innings Clarke had gone for a duck.
Down three wickets for only 22 runs, Australia looked desperate and totally outclassed but Steve Smith compiled a careful 38 to lead them to 75-4 at the close.
After England's innings, it looked as though the visitors were in the ascendancy and had started better than anyone could have predicted. However, they had their own problems in the middle, and the very poor start to their innings has left things delicately poised heading into the second day.
If the trend set on the opening day continues, we may have to find something else to do this Sunday.
The first day in brief:
- England bat first on dry wicket under grey skies.
- Peter Siddle takes 5-fer, aided by careless batting.
- England lose last four wickets for two runs, 215 all out.
- Australia share struggles with the bat, quickly fall to 22-3.
- Smith, Rogers and Hughes lead mini-recovery, 75-4 at stumps.