England vs. Australia, 4th Test, Day 1: Stuart Broad Rocks the Tourists

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistAugust 6, 2015

England's Stuart Broad, right, is appalauded by teammates  as he raises the ball after taking 8 wickets for 15 runs as Australia are bowled out for 60 before lunch on the first day of the fourth Ashes test cricket match between England and Australia at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham, England, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

It is tough to work out how the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test could have gone any better for England.

Knowing a win at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, will see them regain the Ashes from Australia, Alastair Cook's side were rampant with the ball and then clinical with the bat.

Stuart Broad claimed eight for 15 as the tourists were bowled out for 60. That score is not missing a digit—they honestly made 60.

An unbeaten century from Joe Root, along with 74 from Jonny Bairstow, meant the home side closed Thursday's play on 274 for four. They lead by 214 already and now have one hand back on that miniature urn.

Here are a few takeaways from the action, starting with a look at things from Australia's point of view:

The mother of all collapses

Peter Nevill is bowled by Steven Finn during a dramatic first session.
Peter Nevill is bowled by Steven Finn during a dramatic first session.Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images

It's called Test cricket for a reason—you have to work hard, both physically and mentally, to succeed. The clue is in the title.

Australia, however, showed little stomach for the fight. From the moment they lost two wickets in the very first over of the match, it became a procession, as shown by the comedy wagon wheel tweeted by Paddy Power:

Conditions were good for bowling, sure. But they were not that good.

Except for David Warner, who got an inside edge on an excellent inswinger from Mark Wood, no member of the touring side's top seven could blame anyone but themselves for getting out cheaply.

Too many went hard at the ball, presenting England's slip fielders with plenty of catching practice.

The ugliest dismissal of the lot, though, was Michael Clarke's. The captain decided the best form of defence was attack, even though a wide half-volley from Broad was never going to threaten his stumps.

He threw his bat at the ball trying to drive it through the covers but instead just nicked it to his opposite number Alastair Cook, who was stationed at first slip.

Clarke, who had moved himself down to five in the order but found himself walking out to the middle to face the ninth delivery, had fallen to a familiar foe yet again, as pointed out by OptaJim:

Australia are in serious danger of surrendering the Ashes with a game to spare. It might be that, like their reign as holders, Clarke's time is running out.

The brilliance of Broad

Stuart Broad celebrates one of his eight wickets on Day 1 at Trent Bridge.
Stuart Broad celebrates one of his eight wickets on Day 1 at Trent Bridge.Jon Super/Associated Press

Broad had bowled well in the first three Ashes Tests without a whole lot of luck. He had 12 wickets to his name but had been overshadowed by James Anderson and Steven Finn during the win in the third Test at Edgbaston.

However, on his home ground, the 29-year-old took centre stage with a blistering spell that not only flattened Australia but also sent social media into meltdown.

His Wikipedia page was quickly edited, clearly by an Englishman, after the bowler's eight-wicket haul:

Broad had started the match needing one more wicket to become the fifth Englishman to claim 300 scalps in Test cricket. It took him three deliveries to reach the milestone, then took two more to get victim No. 301.

He had recorded a five-wicket haul by his 19th ball, with Clarke becoming one of the Broady Bunch, according to Not David Warner:

It is not the first time Broad has caught fire in an Ashes Test.

The seamer took four wickets in 21 balls at the Oval in 2009 to effectively seal the series, then helped his side retain the urn four years later with a six-wicket haul in the third Test at Durham, England.

For a man who has suffered at the hands of Australia's support in the past, he was able to bask in the glory of being the hero in his own back yard.

Stokes' stunner

Ben Stokes celebrates after hanging on to a stunning catch to dismiss Adam Voges.
Ben Stokes celebrates after hanging on to a stunning catch to dismiss Adam Voges.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

On a day when everything went right for England, Ben Stokes produced a moment in the field that even had his team-mates gasping:

If you haven't had chance to see the grab yet, take a look below:

Stationed at fourth slip, Stokes flung himself to his right to cling on one-handed to an edge from Adam Voges' bat. What made the catch so good was that the ball almost seemed to have gone past him.

England's post-Ashes trip to Spain had seen them pay special attention to their catching, per Ali Martin of the Guardian.

In the home series against New Zealand earlier in the summer, they had put down too many opportunities for an international side. Against Australia, however, they have been catching flies. 

Stokes' reactions would have made Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid films proud.

But was the Durham all-rounder's effort better than Andrew Strauss' one-handed grab at the same venue in 2005? That's for you to decide.

Root manoeuvres England

Joe Root hit his third Test century of 2015 and the eighth overall in his career.
Joe Root hit his third Test century of 2015 and the eighth overall in his career.LINDSEY PARNABY/Getty Images

While Australia could only manage 60 as a team, Root scored a century all by himself.

The Yorkshireman has quickly become the bedrock for England, a middle-order maestro who has already made eight Test centuries and is still only 24.

His innings will see him close the gap on Steven Smith, who contributed six to Australia's paltry total, at the top of the ICC Test rankings

A former team-mate who used to bat at four in the order for England was definitely impressed by Root's knock, according to his tweet:

It is not just about the weight of runs, though. It's also about the way Root scores them. 

A dynamic player off both front and back foot, the right-hander always bats at a tempo that puts opposing teams under pressure. He's busy and bubbly, whether it be hitting boundaries or running quick singles.

By the close on Day 1, he was unbeaten on 124 from 158 deliveries, having hit 19 fours and a solitary six.

He can heap further misery on Australia on Friday, with England now in a position of complete dominance.

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