Australia caught cold by Haddin's drop
Josh Hazlewood has admitted Australia's bowlers did not respond well to the unexpected sight of Brad Haddin dropping Joe Root on the first day of the Investec Ashes series, granting England's No. 5 an opportunity to wrest control of the day after an unpromising start.
Had Root been dismissed for a second-ball duck by Mitchell Starc, England would have been 43 for 4 in the hour before lunch, but Haddin's drop of a half-volleyed edge allowed him and Gary Ballance to establish a bridgehead with a series of counterpunches that threw the Australians off balance.
After a Test series in the West Indies where the tourists held just about every chance that came their way, Hazlewood said they needed to be more focused in the aftermath of a miss. "I don't think we're used to dropping catches at the moment, and hopefully we don't," he said. "But in that situation I think we've got to deal with it better and keep bowling those balls in the right areas and creating those opportunities.
"Those ones are always tough. More than often it actually is a catch, I think you can see by the way it flies off the bat. They're really tough those full ones, and Hadds usually takes more than he drops, so hopefully he can improve and catch the next one."
While Hazlewood bowled decently in his first Ashes match, the more experienced Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc leaked runs as Root and Ballance change the course of the day. "I think they bowled well in patches, they're both attacking bowlers so they can go for runs on different occasions," Hazlewood said of the two left-armers. But they certainly created quite a lot of opportunities and hopefully we can take them next time.
"The conditions suited us in that first hour and we probably made the most of it there, but we didn't stick to our guns I guess for the next couple of sessions. We built pressure and then leaked the runs and the pressure went away. But I think we got better throughout the day."
Starc left the field late in the day and was unable to take the second new ball, and it later emerged that he had complained of ankle soreness. He will be treated overnight.
For his part, Root said he had responded to the circumstances with calculated aggression, taking that gamble that by putting pressure back onto Australia's bowlers, life would be made easier for England's batsmen. So it was to prove.
"I think whenever you get the opportunity to put a side back under pressure or try and shift that momentum, you've got to try and take it," Root said after making 134. "There will be times when it doesn't work, when it doesn't quite come off and you look slightly stupid or you play what looks like a horrendous shot and get out. But they're the sorts of risks we're taking by playing this positive, attacking cricket.
"At the minute it's working really nicely, I'm sure it won't always be like that, but we want to continue to do that and really put sides under pressure whenever we can."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig