England have closed day one of the first Ashes test in Brisbane on 196-4, sharing the spoils with Australia in an enthralling opening chapter to the series.
England started in the worst possible way, with Alastair Cook edging Mitchell Starc to first slip for just 2, after captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat.
Some England fans in Brisbane would have been forgiven for ominously thinking back to the disastrous 2013/14 tour, when the pace of Mitchell Johnson ripped through the English top order with devastating regularity.
It fell to Mark Stoneman and James Vince to weather the Australian storm with the new ball, on an uncharacteristically slow Gabba wicket. Stoneman made a gritty and workmanlike 53 while Vince top-scored with an eye-catching 83, showing the discipline outside off-stump which he was previously lacking at Test level.
Their second-wicket stand of 125 was higher than any English partnership during their previous tour of Australia.
Stoneman’s wicket was eventually prised from him when he was bowled by Pat Cummins, with Vince falling shortly after when he was brilliantly run-out by Nathan Lyon.
Root made just 15, before being trapped LBW by Cummins. The England captain was dropped before England’s 5th Test in Sydney in 2014, and will be desperate to impose himself on the series.
Root’s former mentor and team-mate at Sheffield Collegiate Cricket Club, Nick Gaywood, describes him as “unflappable” and is bullish about his chances of succeeding with the bat Down Under:
“He has had these challenges all the time, and I think he likes them. That’s why he plays.
“He loves Cricket, and he wouldn’t like it if it was easy.”
England will resume day two at the Gabba with Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali at the crease on 28 and 13 respectively. Both batted watchfully in the evening session to ensure honours were even at stumps on the first day.