England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 1st day July 10, 2013

England hit back as 14 wickets crash


Australia 75 for 4 (Smith 38*, Hughes 7*) trail England 215 (Trott 48, Bairstow 37, Siddle 5-50, Pattinson 3-69) by 140 runs

Frenzied. That barely begins to tell the story. The pent-up tensions at the start of an Ashes series frothed out into a memorable first day of eager and aggressive bowling, angsty batting and high excitement. When the nervous energy had subsided, and a sell-out crowd began to wend its way home, the first day of the Investec Test series had granted its favours slightly, without ever quite making eye contact, towards England.

In the build-up to the Test, it had been observed that the ball had not swung as much at Trent Bridge this season. It turned out that England's most genteel Test ground was just being bashful. On a warm, hazy day, swing bowling was in the ascendancy, 14 wickets fell and no batsman has yet made a half-century.

This is a slow, dry Nottingham surface, already markedly cracked and with the forecast of dry days ahead, England, who won the toss, will fancy that reverse swing and the spin of Graeme Swann will come to the fore as the match progresses. Those possessing tickets for the final day will already be looking for a back-up attraction.

The stand-out bowling figures on a turbulent day went to Peter Siddle, an indefatigable rouser of the troops, who specialises in making an impact at the start of an Ashes series, and who emphatically demanded an immediate reassessment of Australia's qualities as he took five wickets by tea with remorseless, good-length bowling and just enough swing to make it potent.

But the ball of the day was surely delivered, on behalf of England, by James Anderson. He produced a mesmerising delivery to bowl Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, sixth ball for nought, a late outswinger and a suitable way to go past Fred Trueman's landmark of 307 Test wickets. On the balcony, David Saker, England's bowling coach, really did lick his lips with pure delight.

Before then, Steven Finn had made inroads by dismissing Shane Watson and Ed Cowan in successive balls. Watson's desire to dominate brought an edge to second slip; Cowan, who had been off the field with nausea for much of the day, added to the indiscretions by carving at a wide one; and Finn came within a whisker of a hat-trick by beating Clarke's outside edge.

Finn was preferred by England to Tim Bresnan and then took the new ball as Stuart Broad remained off the field for ice treatment on his right shoulder - which required a cortisone injection less than a week ago - after he was struck by a bouncer from James Pattinson. Australia will not be wishing him well.

Chris Rogers was Australia's stabilising element, just the man to provide an additional neutron or two, but he got too far across his stumps to Anderson in an effort to cover the outswing and was picked off lbw, his call for a review narrowly failing.

Siddle was Australia's inspiration. His hat-trick in Brisbane two years ago, and Test-best 6 for 54, proved to be a false dawn for Australia as England went on to win three Tests by an innings.

When he leaked 27 runs in four overs in a first, unrewarded spell, it was symptomatic of Australia's anxious start, but his switch to the Radcliffe Road end for a one-over spell before lunch brought immediate dividends when he found some late outswing to bowl Joe Root.

Clarke unsurprisingly turned to him once more immediately after lunch. Kevin Pietersen fell to a typically flamboyant drive, whereas Jonathan Trott's booming drive at a wide one left the batsman so appalled as he dragged on that he made as if to demolish the stumps in self-admonishment. Until then, he had played with great certainty for 48, milking Australia's attack through the leg side with regularity, but even he was struck by Ashes fever.

A fourth spell accounted for Ian Bell, who was defeated by an excellent outswinger. At 178 for 4, Bell and Bairstow had been close to confirming England's superiority. Instead, Bell left with a quizzical nose scrunching, recognition that for England, overwhelming favourites for the series, things were not exactly going to plan.

They went even more awry in Siddle's next over when Matt Prior, with only a single to his name, departed ten minutes before tea. Siddle banged one in short and wide and Prior's suitably belligerent response merely presented a catch to cover.

Australia's first wicket had been the one they most desired: Alastair Cook: Cook, a remorseless compiler of 766 runs in his last Ashes series, a series which he reflected ahead of this rubber "changed me as a cricketer". This time Australia removed him for 13 and they will pray that the number is a harbinger of ill luck all summer long.

The successful bowler was Pattinson. The ball was not particularly potent, pushed wide across Cook, but he edged a loose drive to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Cook sat on the balcony, alone, and no doubt pondered on the demands of captaincy at the start of an Ashes series. Clarke, several hours later, went through the same thought process.

Pattinson had expressed his desire to avenge England's ridiculing of his older brother, Darren, when his sole England Test cap went awry against South Africa in 2005.

On the ground where Darren made his name, James launched the series nervously with a wide and a bye - a loopy bouncer followed by a ball that swung down the leg side. But he does not lack for on-field aggression. His snarl was soon evident against Root, returned with a cheeky chappie smile that might have come straight out of an old-time English music hall. He might also have picked up Pietersen's wicket when Haddin narrowly failed to intercept a glance down the leg side.

Ashton Agar, a 19-year-old left-arm spinner on Test debut, had cause to be even more jittery. An Australian spinner on debut in an Ashes series cannot bowl a ball without being aware of Shane Warne's arrival into Ashes folklore. He began with the Ball of the Century; some act to follow. Agar, gum chewing furiously, delivered a low full toss which Trott gratefully punched to the cover boundary. But his tall, springy approach and stately action promised good things to come.

England, 185 for 6 at tea, succumbed rapidly at the start of the final session, losing their last four wickets for two runs in 14 balls.

Broad's fallibility against the hook shot was underlined when he unwisely tried to attack Pattinson; Bairstow, who had played enterprisingly for 37, considering that he has spent much of the past year as a drinks waiter, was bowled hitting across a full-length ball from Mitchell Starc; Finn gave Starc two in two, reviewing a catch at the wicket to no avail; and there was no late flourish from Swann who offered only a tame prod to cover.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • R on July 11, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney... yes, finn has probably bowled himself out of the series, but the buck stops with the capt and capt cook was very very poor to let the situation get to that... and broad on the pitch but not bowling while finn bowled that garbage?? and then broad not demanding 2 slips when he did eventually come on?? there is always more than 1 contributing factor in a fiasco... and cook now reduced to almost strokelessness is not helping his earlier poor captaincy... still its bell next so thats 25 runs in the bag

  • ESPN on July 11, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    This has shattered a few dreams,schemes and delusions of grandeur. Apart from close associates and family no one would have expected this to happen, what a debut by Ashton Agar,it's great to have Boof at the helm and he's the type of bloke that won't take the credit but deflect them and give all the accolades to Agar.

  • Android on July 11, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    I must. Say that batting was pretty. Ordinary. No one cud handle the swinging ball. Club level cricket. Makes a dull showing.

  • Android on July 11, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Overrated fin exposed again. Gone for about 5 runs pet over Agar is best batsman that aus got. Smith played beautifully. Well done aus on well deserved lead.

  • Android on July 11, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    Well done agar turned ashes on its head. Who wud have thought that agar wud be selected for batting. Not his lackluster. Bowling. Wat a move by lehmann. Now score 100 on debut and win the first test for aus.

  • John on July 11, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    England have to come out after lunch with renewed vigour, bowl in good areas, take that last wicket and then remind themselves that batting conditions are excellent and there's ages to go in this game. They could put on 450 in their second innings and still have two days to go, so they need to be patient - which seemed so alien in the first innings - and make the most of it. If they can bat to lunch on day 4 then Australia will have enough of a chance that they will have to go for it and that will of course increase the chance of wickets falling. It's a long way to there but with the potential in their batting and the conditions in their favour, they should be able to do it. Should is not will though.

  • disco on July 11, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Make no mistake, this innings by Agar is more than an astounding record breaking knock, it will colour the entire series. His innings will alter the course of events and I think from here on in we can steam ahead. I predicted that Hughes would play a defining knock and reach 270 with the tail, granted I didn't think he'd do it like this but I'll take it.

  • John on July 11, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    That may just be the mother of all wasted opportunities. It was a great effort to get Australia to 117/9 and then England just went to sleep. Not for the first time, they seemed to expect the last man to get himself out. Steven Finn really has to take the lion's share of the blame with a truly terrible spell of bowling. It's amazing what a difference attitude makes and Agar was obviously playing with freedom and confidence and Finn was just feeding it. Allowing that partnership to continue so long has allowed Steve Hughes to grow in confidence as well, which could cost England later in the series too. It's obvious that conditions are ideal for batting but Swann and particularly Anderson had made the Australians forget that. Finn just reminded them again by bowling lots of innocuous short stuff and it was then so much harder for all the other bowlers too. Broad should have had Hughes but the fields were so ultra-defensive by then that he got away with it. Very disappointing.

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    Wow! Its good to see the free flow batting of 19 year old boy Agar who arrived at the crease as 11th Man and really showed the character of a Man in his debut match...Though he was named in playing XI as spinner and did not speak with his ball much he created noise with his batting stride and takes his team to the LEAD position...Ashes has started with surprise and hope more to come from both the Teams...

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    @H_Z_0...I didnt feel aggrieved over the Rogers decision but I am thrilled with the third umpire's mistake as it's the li'l bit of luck that historically; good ol Ozstraya take to the bank and cash it in for all it is worth!! England on the other hand havent been good enough to create more opportunities to finish Australia off!