Ashes 2017: Australia close on 165/4 as Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh rebuild in reply to England's 302

Rob Bagchi

 

The Ashes delivered on its pre-series hype as Australia captain Steve Smith edged an epic battle of will and skill with England's bowlers on an absorbing second day at the Gabba.

Joe Root's men did themselves no favours when they lost three wickets for four runs, and their last six for 56, after a stand of 83 between Dawid Malan (56) and Moeen Ali en route to an apparently under-par 302 all out.

But they responded in the field by sticking to their captain's effective plans with sustained, accurate spells, until Smith (64 not out) emerged from the home pack to revitalise his team from 76 for four to 165 without further loss at the close in an unbroken stand with Australia's returning number six Shaun Marsh.

Smith needed to be at his most watchful and determined on his way to a hard-earned 112-ball 50 after four England bowlers had taken a deserved wicket each.

Ashes 2017-18 first Test | Day two round-up from Brisbane

Stuart Broad was rewarded first, when debutant opener Cameron Bancroft pushed out on the front foot and was very well caught behind by a diving Jonny Bairstow.

Usman Khawaja was lbw to one that did not turn from Moeen, brought on after just eight overs by Root.

England kept David Warner becalmed throughout, and the combative opener blinked first when he whipped Jake Ball to midwicket, where Malan was relieved to take a sharp catch at the second attempt.

James Anderson then out-thought Peter Handscomb to have him plumb lbw, a dismissal which required a review to overturn the initial decision but should not have done.

That was as good as it got for England, who were undone by Smith.

Who will win the 2017 Ashes? Ashes-ometer puff

Marsh too grew in confidence towards the end of a stamina-sapping examination for the touring attack, who nonetheless will still be able to resume with realistic designs on a first-innings lead.

England had managed to add 105 more runs to their overnight total in an extended first session, thanks largely to Malan and Moeen.

While the fifth-wicket pair were prospering, though, Root must have been hoping for substantially more than a mere 300 benchmark.

A solid evening's work: Australia's Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith walk off at the end of play during day two Credit: PA

It was not to be.

Malan became the third of England's Ashes novices to pass 50 here at his first attempt, and there were some authoritative drives among his high boundary count of 11.

It was Moeen who had looked most vulnerable once Mitchell Starc (three for 77) began a barrage of short balls, to a field of leg-side catchers. Yet it was his partner who succumbed, rightly frustrated with himself when he mis-pulled the left-armer to deep square leg.

Spinner-on-spinner: Moeen Ali out LBW to Nathan Lyon Credit: Getty

Moeen followed an over later, a first victim for the deserving Nathan Lyon who deceived the left-hander with one that did not turn and won the lbw.

Chris Woakes was bowled attempting an ambitious drive at the off-spinner and Bairstow could not halt the slide either, - entirely mistiming an attempted pull at Pat Cummins (three for 85) to give wicketkeeper Tim Paine an unmissable catch.

It therefore fell to England's tail to try to burgle some much-needed scraps, and Broad and Ball rode their luck effectively to do so.

 

7:50AM

How to judge that day, then?

We had 98.1 overs, 271 runs scored for the loss of ten wickets. Good over rate of 13.5. A scoring rate of 2.76 an over.

England began on 196/4 with ambitions of a big score and, with Malan and Ali making steady progress to 246/4, that seemed very likely. But suddenly the Australians roused themselves to take the last six wickets for 56.

It was then the hosts who felt that they had the whip-hand, but at 76/4, there was talk of a major England lead.

And then the pendulum swung again as Shaun Marsh joined skipper Steve Smith for a vital, mature unbroken stand of 89. 

"Who is winning in your cricket game?" our Scottish colleague JJ Bull will ask when he arrives shortly. The anser, in our considered, collective opinion is "dunno". Thanks for following with us, Rob Bagchi will be back in harness tonight. Play is scheduled for the strangely precise 9.58am local time, or 23.58 UK. Have a great day/sleep!

Just up? Here's the overnight lowdown: Nightwatchman

7:35AM

Close of play: AUS 165/4 (Smith 64* S Marsh 44*) trail by 137

Excellent day. Report and reaction coming up.

7:35AM

OVER 62: AUS 165/4 (Smith 64* S Marsh 44*)  

Extreme #funk in this field placing from Root as Broad bowls the final over of the day. He has got two silly mid ons. And three silly mid off/short cover men! They're in a line like rugger players waiting for a kick off.

Broad bowls a yorker. Root moves the second silly mid on to short leg. After all that, he bowls down the legside and just for a hint of a second it looks like Marsh has strangled himself. But no. The day ends with a third consecutive maiden: if the soothsayers are correct, then, we should have a wicket at the start of day three. England could do with it.

7:31AM

OVER 61: AUS 165/4 (Smith 64* S Marsh 44*) 

Anderson. Dogged excellence, but no moment of magic. Giving the ball every chance but nothing doing. Smith plays out a maiden.

Australia vs England, first Test: live scoreboard

7:28AM

OVER 60: AUS 165/4 (Smith 64* S Marsh 44*)

Broad comes on for a last blast. It's more finesse than blast, in fairness. Full, aiming at the stumps, with a silly mid on and a silly mid off. It's exemplary old ball bowling. And defended stoutly by Marsh, who has done the selectors a favour with this knock. Glenn Maxwell, also mentioned in dispatches for the number six spot, has been making a powerful case in his State game with a double century.

7:25AM

OVER 59: AUS 165/4 (Smith 64* S Marsh 44*)                     

There's a single to each man off this Anderson over. "I reckon stumps will come at the right time for both sides here," says Adam Gilchrist. I totally agree, and would add "... and for live bloggers too..."

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7:19AM

OVER 58: AUS 163/4 (Smith 63* S Marsh 43*)                    

Marsh cuts Root, but it is the arm ball! Thick edge flies over Anderson at slip, not a chance, but Root will feel justified in giving himself a bowl if nothing else.

7:17AM

OVER 57: AUS 159/4 (Smith 63* S Marsh 39*)                   

Anderson, nice and full, giving the ball every chance to reverse swing, although I am not sure that the ball is fulfilling its end of the bargain. No quarter given or asked for as the long shadows lick across the ground. How England would love to break this stand.

7:13AM

OVER 56: AUS 158/4 (Smith 63* S Marsh 38*)                  

Joe Root, in a nice #funky move, brings himself on. First four balls are tidy but the fifth one bounces sharply from a length. Hello! That's beaten Marsh on the outside edge. Arm ball to finish the over but Marsh is alive to that and takes a single.

7:11AM

OVER 55: AUS 157/4 (Smith 63* S Marsh 37*)                 

Anderson with a snorter! That's beaten Steve all ends up. Lovely ball that straightens from just short of a length.

7:09AM

If you are just joining us

Here is the action from the day so far with our Nightwatchman round-up

7:06AM

OVER 54: AUS 155/4 (Smith 61* S Marsh 37*)                

We're carrying on with Ball. I think England would take the close of play now, it's not quite going for them. I wonder if there might be a chance of reverse swing? Doesn't look so yet. Marsh dinks the ball through point.

7:01AM

OVER 53: AUS 151/4 (Smith 60* S Marsh 34*)               

Moeen, who has got through a power of work, is removed in favour of James Anderson.

His first delivery jags back a little and hits Steve Smith in what people euphemistically refer to as the penis and testicles area. Not a #good #areas for poor Piggy Smith. He takes a moment to, ahem, adjust and we are back. And he hits back at Anderson with a quite lovely back foot drive that purrs away for four.

There are now eight overs left until stumps, I expect Anderson will bowl until the close.

6:57AM

OVER 52: AUS 147/4 (Smith 55* S Marsh 30*)              

Well, whatever is up with Jake Ball, he's okay to carry on. Smith drives the ball back at him and it looks for a split second that Jake might flick it back onto Marsho's stumps. After a single, Marsh pings another delightful drive. England, I think, need a little something-something.

6:52AM

OVER 51: AUS 142/4 (Smith 55* S Marsh 30*)             

That is the stuff! Lovely shot from Shaun Marsh as he uses the feet to stroke Moeen through the covers, as attractive a shot as you could wish to see. I wonder if six might be the berth for him? He can certainly play. Made his dayboo all the way back in September 2011 with a ton, but has been shunted, shuttled and otherwise fiddled up and down the order. Started at three, then dropped to four, and then to five. Then they tried him as an opener. In India recently he was down to six.

6:48AM

OVER 50: AUS 138/4 (Smith 55* S Marsh 26*)            

Ball. Smith. Back-foot punch. Three runs.

Ball squares Marsh up. Pace improving.

But this is not good: Jake Ball off the field at the end of the over. I hope he has not aggravated that ankle injury.

6:43AM

OVER 49: AUS 134/4 (Smith 52* S Marsh 25*)           

A Moeen maiden, that'll do. England haven't really created much in the way of chances in this stand so far.

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6:41AM

OVER 48: AUS 134/4 (Smith 52* S Marsh 25*)          

A welcome bowling change, as Jake Ball replaces Chris Woakes. Smith takes his to have a look, and attempts nothing rash. A short, wide ball is tucked for two, Steve might feel that he could have punished that one more severely.

6:38AM

OVER 47: AUS 132/4 (Smith 50* S Marsh 25*)         

Steve Smith works a single off the first ball of the Mo-ver and has a gritty, impressive fifty.

Marsh uses his feet neatly to snythesise an okay ball into a full toss, and has himself a four.  A legit full toss later in the over from Moeen but no score that time. That's 39 off the last ten overs. Aussies enjoying a decent period.

6:32AM

OVER 46: AUS 127/4 (Smith 49* S Marsh 21*)        

Okay, England need to change this up. Chris Woakes is a super player but it's not quite happening now. A succession of balls that are too short. Smith pulls him for one. Marsh pulls him for four. 

6:29AM

OVER 45: AUS 120/4 (Smith 47* S Marsh 16*)       

Steve Smith gets a thick edge, and two runs for it, off Moeen. England perhaps starting to tire a little? Moeen here with a rank bad ball, a full toss. Smith does not miss out. Four.

6:24AM

OVER 44: AUS 113/4 (Smith 40* S Marsh 16*)      

Chris Woakes continues. Chris could do with a nice couple of overs here, he has not been quite at his best thus far. He's putting his back into it, and this is a handy maiden. Accurate. Decent pace. Not a lot for Marsh can do about that

6:16AM

OVER 43: AUS 113/4 (Smith 40* S Marsh 16*)     

A Moeen maiden to Smith, and that takes us neatly up until drinks.

Australia trail by 189

6:15AM

OVER 42: AUS 113/4 (Smith 40* S Marsh 16*)    

Bit too much width there from C Woakes. Attractive shot from Marsh for four. Rest of Chris's over was good, but it's been a case of "one bad ball per over" today. Marsh doing a good job for his side so far. Smith looking quite assured. This, you would think, would perhaps be the best time to bat of the match: pitch is true and getting harder as it bakes in the sun, fielders have been out in the heat for a while, no rough or dodgy bounce to speak of.

6:09AM

OVER 41: AUS 108/4 (Smith 39* S Marsh 12*)   

Moeen. Silly mid on, and a deepish short leg. One slip. Smith defends a couple and takes a single. Marsh comes a long way down the pitch and is hit on the pad. There's half an LBW appeal.

6:06AM

OVER 40: AUS 105/4 (Smith 37* S Marsh 11*)  

Chris Woakes comes on, and bowls to a curious field of one slip and one leg slip. Short ball! Smith goes at it. Pulls. Top edge! The ball lands almost exactly between two fielders in the legside deep. Four. And the same score again next ball, a clip to fine leg. That's woken up the fellows in the scorebox. The crowd cheer the milestone.

6:00AM

OVER 39: AUS 96/4 (Smith 28* S Marsh 11*) 

Oooh! Marsh edges Moeen. Couple through the slips. Ill-gotten gains.

The Evil Glenn McGrath has gone all sci-fi,discussing how maybe in the future you will be able to get to England from Australia "in ten minutes". You "could sleep at home and then come and play a Test match." Makes you think, Evil Glenn.

5:55AM

OVER 38: AUS 93/4 (Smith 27* S Marsh 9*)

England review for LBW: Broad has hit Marsh on the upper bit of the thigh, padding up and offering no shot. Given not out, but they review. Hmm, I don't fancy England here.

That's not hitting the stumps. England lose a review, Root swayed by the vehemence of Broad's appeal.

"Broad absolutely vehement that was LBW," says Simon Mann on the BBC. Ah, 'twas ever thus.

5:52AM

OVER 37: AUS 93/4 (Smith 27* S Marsh 9*)             

Marsh cannot be faulted for positivity, he is looking to score but the field has been expertly set, and Moeen is bowling to it. Finally an accessible ball from Mo, this one a little short, and Marsho cuts it for three.

5:48AM

OVER 36: AUS 90/4 (Smith 26* S Marsh 6*)            

Aw, look. THAT is a cricket shot. Super stuff from S Smith as he drives Broad through mid on for a rare, precious boundary. Rest of the over is exemplary.

5:45AM

OVER 35: AUS 86/4 (Smith 22* S Marsh 6*)           

Marsh considers a drive against Ali but thinks better of it. It's another maiden. Will Marsh snap?

Three runs in seven overs.

5:42AM

OVER 34: AUS 86/4 (Smith 22* S Marsh 6*)          

Broad probing that channel, and then slips in a bouncer. Smith dogged, watchful. The scoring rate has slowed to a crawl, let's hope that the local paper engages with that issue.

5:41AM

OVER 33: AUS 86/4 (Smith 22* S Marsh 6*)         

Change of ends for Moeen Ali, Smith again happy to take the single off ball one. Some classic TMS commentary right now:

Daniel Norcross: "how has Steve Smith changed his technique?"

Glenn McGrath: "I don't know."

More on that as we have it.

5:34AM

OVER 32: AUS 85/4 (Smith 22* S Marsh 6*)        

Stuart Broad comes in to the attack, and he offers plenty of width to the Aussie skipper Smith. Vince continues his good match with a useful bit of fielding at point. The only score off the over is a single off the last ball off the pads. That 302 looks a way away at the time of writing.

5:29AM

OVER 31: AUS 84/4 (Smith 21* S Marsh 6*)       

James Anderson. Steve Smith. Lovely ball, beats him outside off. Smith is into the shell, he must be feeling the pressure of the match situation and the captaincy.

5:28AM

OVER 30: AUS 83/4 (Smith 20* S Marsh 6*)      

Slow, teasing over from Moeen Ali. A maiden to Marsh.

5:25AM

OVER 29: AUS 83/4 (Smith 20* S Marsh 6*)     

James Anderson going through his repertoire to Smith. Looking for the inswinger, he in fact finds three uncharacteristic leg-side balls. Smith keeps picking out the midwicket fielder, even off the final ball of the over, the full toss. Uncharacteristic from Smith too.

If these batting woes persist, and let's hope that they do, the selectors will have a case to answer. Not least in the shape of Glenn 'The Big Show' Maxwell.

5:22AM

OVER 28: AUS 83/4 (Smith 20* S Marsh 6*)    

"Go on, Shaun," Moeen's bowling seems to suggest. He's tossing the ball up, inviting the Aussie six to have a go if he thinks he's hard enough.

No protection offered by Smith to the new man, by the way. He took a single off the first ball of the over.

5:19AM

OVER 27: AUS 80/4 (Smith 19* S Marsh 4*)   

Marsh off the mark with a lovely drive, four runs for that through the covers. But Anderson fights back with  a snakey delivery that beats him.

5:17AM

OVER 26: AUS 76/4 (Smith 19* S Marsh 0*)  

Moeen keeps the pressure on with an admirable maiden. And it's nearly better than that, as Smith plays for turn that does not come.

5:15AM

OVER 25: AUS 76/4  (Smith 19* S Marsh 0*) 

That wicket off the fifth ball of the over.

Shaun Marsh, for it is he, comes to the crease and survives the sixth. What a start to the session!

5:12AM

WICKET! Hansdcomb lbw Anderson 14

A dream start to the evening session for England. James Anderson with the yorker, Peter H plays back and is trapped in front. He is given not out but England review. And rightly so! No inside edge and that is going to be out. FOW 76/4

Anderson gets in on the act as the @Specsavers DRS sends Handscomb on his way: https://t.co/P6sH6ROa7L#Ashespic.twitter.com/Vg2fbwMDcF

— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) November 24, 2017

5:04AM

Good morning

Tyers here. The man Bagchi goes for a well-earned wash and brush up, and a can of a popular soft drink. How are the two teams feeling as the tea interval comes to a close?

4:48AM

TEA: AUS 76/3

All five England bowlers have had moments of genuine menace but also, impressively, have been able to execute their plans with purpose and precision. Joe Root has had bespoke fields for each batsman and they must feel if they can remove these two before the close they're likely to enjoy a substantial lead. Currently Australia trail by 226 runs with seven wickets left. 

Jake Ball dismisses David Warner Credit: DAVID GRAY/REUTERS
A sight for English sore eyes Credit: Jason O'Brien/PA Wire

 I think Alan Tyers will take over after tea. Thanks for your company. I'll be back for the start of the third day's play. 

4:42AM

OVER 24: AUS 76/3 (Smith 19* Handscomb 14*)

As Ricky Ponting points out Handscomb bats so preposterously deep in his crease that hit wicket has to be a constant worry despite his Goochian backlift. He pushes at a full one with soft hands that sends it squirting through gully for four. That was a decent ball, impressively played and then he dismisses a short one with a carving square cut for four before punching one through the covers for three. That's TEA. 

4:39AM

OVER 23: AUS 65/3 (Smith 19* Handscomb 3*)

Check out Anderson's smothering field for Smith, the No1 ranked batsman in Test cricket, complete with leg slip. 

Credit: BT SPORT

Anderson bowls five dot balls, pulling him across his crease as he tries to find a gap he can work. It takes him until the last ball to flick it down to fine leg for two when Anderson errs too straight. 

4:35AM

OVER 22: AUS 63/3 (Smith 17* Handscomb 3*)

Handscomb is so deep in his crease that Ball is trying to pin him with a fuller length at first and trap him leg-before. He digs one out to gully, hacks a cut shot into the ground and stays on three. Nothing for him to hit. Ball is bowling with poise and precision. 

4:29AM

OVER 21: AUS 63/3 (Smith 17* Handscomb 3*)

Warner's swivel pull has got him out previously and it did for him here. England targeting his thigh pad has paid off mightily. Anderson resumes with a maiden, right on the money, to Smith who judiciously leaves three. 

4:27AM

OVER 20: AUS 63/3 (Smith 17* Handscomb 3*)

This has been a terrific session so far from England, no sign of nerves or rust or meekness. They've been clever, accurate and aggressive with field placings and precision. And gentlemen in England now abed. Shall think themselves accursed they were not here. And hold their manhoods cheap. Ball ends the over with one that kicks up at Handscomb who rocks back to punch a back-foot drive on the up through cover point for three. Anderson is coming back on. Foot on the throat time. 

4:21AM

Wicket!!

Warner c Malan b Ball 26No doubt that Ball has extracted more bounce than anyone else and he used it to fox Warner, angling it in to his body, tucking him up which meant he couldn't free his arms so he popped his pull up to short midwicket. FOW 59/3

4:20AM

OVER 19: AUS 56/2 (Smith 15* Warner 24*)

Exquisite shot from Warner, a dabby late cut that glides off the bat for four. Moeen gave him the width, straightened up next ball and was clipped for a single. Smith uses his feet for the first time with a soft-shoe chasse down the pitch and a steer through midwicket. It doesn't have the legs to make it to the pickets but they run three. 

4:16AM

OVER 18: AUS 48/2 (Smith 12* Warner 19*)

Jake Ball comes round to the wicket to Warner who pushes the first ball to cover without reward then penetrates the infield with an off-drive for one. That gives Ball the chance to come over to Smith. Some wheels from Ball on Ashes debut, up at 86 mph and impressive accuracy. Smith defends a couple on the front foot, tries an off-drive that is gathered by the fielder and leaves another. 

Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

4:11AM

OVER 17: AUS 46/2 (Smith 12* Warner 18*)

Moeen treats Smith to a rare long hop, dragging it down and endangering short leg. Smith cuffs it rather than stroking it or smashing it, failing to collar a ball that should have gone for four. He still garners three. Jake Ball is going to come on. Five bowlers is a tremendous advantage that England must capitalise on. 

4:08AM

OVER 16: AUS 41/2 (Smith 9* Warner 16*)

Woakes is consistently hitting the high eighties and bowling full, to the plan, generally and staying withing the confines of the corridor. Warner off-drives for a single but while Smith cannot score off the subsequent five, he's too classy to appear even a mite troubled. 

4:05AM

OVER 15: AUS 40/2 (Smith 9* Warner 15*)

A pair of singles off Moeen who is bowling beautifully. Smith flicks one behind square while Warner crunches one in front of square on the offside. Get one of these out before tea and England may treat themselves to a slice of cake. 

4:00AM

OVER 14: AUS 38/2 (Smith 8* Warner 14*)

England have a leg slip in for Smith - a New Zealand tactic probably brought to the table by England's locum bowling coach Shane Bond, Michael Vaughan tells us. Too straight from Woakes allows Smith to pick him off through midwicket and fine leg for a two and a single respectively. 

3:57AM

OVER 13: AUS 35/2 (Smith 5* Warner 14*)

Moeen is giving it a healthy rip to Warner who is having to restrain himself. He plays at all six competently but doesn't score. This is how Moeen did for Khawaja with the old one-two, courtesy of BT Sport, with consecutive balls.

Credit: BT Sports

 

3:54AM

OVER 12: AUS 35/2 (Smith 5* Warner 14*)

Woakes has three slips, a gully, a shortish mid off and a short cover for Smith but hoops a full ball onto leg and middle that Smith drives beautifully between mid on and midwicket for four. Woakes readjusts and follows the plan, keeping him quiet but barely ruffling his plumage with a  fifth-stunp line designed to frustrate his inclination to hit through the onside. 

3:50AM

OVER 11: AUS 31/2 (Smith 1* Warner 14*)

Terrific over from Moeen, giving Khawaja a proper working over with a three-ball trick. Smith wanders across his crease to flick a single through square leg. 

Credit: BT SPORT

 

3:44AM

Wicket!!

Khawaja lbw b Moeen 11Amazing. He looks like a total novice against spin. Moeen trapped him in front of middle on the front pad with the straightener that was speared in after a couple of flighted, wideish tempters. Superb bowling. He couldn't review it because (a) he was out, (b) he was embarrassed and (c) his name isn't Shane Watson. FOW 30/2

3:44AM

OVER 10: AUS 29/1 (Khawaja 11* Warner 13*)

Double change. Woakes on for Broad. He's straight in at 88mph. This is "the proper McCoy", says Geoffrey Boycott when told Woakes had taken plenty of wickets on tour. He starts with three fast, full and straight ones that Khawaja leaves or defends but then strays on to his pads and is cuffed round the corner for a single to deep backward square. Nice opener to Warner, full and a hint of movement. Warner digs it out then attacks the length with an ill-timed cross-bat swipe that bobbles out to cover for a single.

David Warner plays a swivel pull Credit: Jason O'Brien/PA

 

3:38AM

OVER 9: AUS 27/1 (Khawaja 10* Warner 12*)

Moeen begins with loopy flight and Warner gorges on the second of them, too full, and drives it through extra cover for four. He takes three balls to find his range, pitching on off and fizzing past the edge. Bairstow whips off the bails but the beaten batsman had not left his crease. 

3:34AM

OVER 8: AUS 23/1 (Khawaja 10* Warner 8*)

Broad digs one in to Warner who pulls for two,  sprinting the second like the hare he is. Broad curses his luck when he traps Warner in the crease and, but for an inside edge, absolutely plumb. Broad's bowling beautifully though Warner gets off strike with a back foot punch past the diving short cover and Khawaja flicks two off his hip. Blimey, Joe Root throws the ball to Moeen after only 48 deliveries. 

Joe Root is delighted by the early breakthrough Credit: REUTERS/David Gray

 

3:29AM

OVER 7: AUS 18/1 (Khawaja 8* Warner 5*)

Anderson prefers over the wicket to the mollies and gives Khawaja enough room to square drive by slanting one across that doesn't nip  or swing back in. Khawaja drills it through point for four. Anderson gives himself a talking to. Now then, mardy bum. Anderson bangs the last ball in, Khawaja shapes to pull and mistimes it, bottom edging into his thigh. 

3:26AM

OVER 6: AUS 13/1 (Khawaja 4* Warner 4*)

Warner milks a third single off his pads giving Broad a dart at Khawaja who thick edges through third slip for four. The ball died about 3ft in front of the fieldsman who was diving forward. Adam Gilchrist says it's nice to see young girls and boys at the cricket, 'patriotism, there' he says. 

3:22AM

OVER 5: AUS 8/1 (Khawaja 0* Warner 3*)

Warner raises en pointe to flick a single through midwicket allowing Anderson to greet Usman Khawaja with a jaffa that slants across him, pitches and veers past the varnish of the outside edge. The lunch break baking and the hardness of the new ball is giving England far more bounce than Australia finished with. Khawaja, despite his fine home record, looks flustered as a great bowler gives him a working over outside off-stump.

Stuart Broad races to high five his team-mates after dismissing the debutant Bancroft for five Credit:  Jason O'Brien/PA Wire

 

3:18AM

OVER 4: AUS 7/1 (Khawaja 0* Warner 2*)

Broad round the wicket to Warner who check-drives him to mid-off and hares a single. Bancroft plays a claw-handed on-drive that gives Broad great encouragement which he hams up with a big 'ooh'. Would have been plumb had he hit it but he didn't. But now he's gone! Brilliant from Broad, setting Bancroft up with straight ones targeting his front pad then tempting him outside off once he'd lured the batsman into losing his bearings. 

3:14AM

Wicket!!

Bancroft c Bairstow b Broad 5Excellent wobble-seam delivery drew Bancroft forward and he nicked off with a prod to the keeper who took it well, diving low to his right. FOW 7/1

3:11AM

OVER 3: AUS 4/0 (Bancroft 3* Warner 1*)

Short mid-off for Warner who keeps flexing his sore neck. Too straight from Anderson with his off-side biased field and Warner clips him to midwicket for a single. Bancroft is caught on the crease on the front pad as Anderson finds his length but it's way too high. BT's obsession with that boundary-side pool would test the patience of a saint, which I'm not. Anyway, two wet Australians have just agreed to marry one another. 

3:07AM

OVER 2: AUS 3/0 (Bancroft 3* Warner 0*)

Bancroft looks compact and correct, taking a nice stride to Brigadier Block Broad down the pitch. The short mid-on moves square to short midwicket and that fielder stops one that Bancroft pushes with a headlong dive. Who's in the cordon in Stokes's absence? I can't tell from here. Broad fields off his own bowling and shapes to hurl it back at Bancroft but doesn't release. Broad ends with a snorter that rips past the outside edge of Bancroft's forward defensive.  Warner will face a ball now. Here he is after his stunning catch:

Warner catches Ball and celebrates with Paine Credit: Chris Hyde - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

 

3:02AM

OVER 1: AUS 3/0 (Bancroft 3* Warner 0*)

Anderson has a short mid-on in for the debutant right-hander. His first two balls are back of a length with good carry and Bancroft lets them fly by. A tighter line makes Bancroft play and he defends one and deflects the next with soft hands through third man for two. Anderson strays on to the pads to end the over and Bancroft flicks it down to square leg for a single, farming the strike. 

2:58AM

Here come the players

David Warner leading out Cameron Bancroft. Jimmy Anderson has taken Warner's wicket seven times in 12 Tests at an average of 19.85. Stuart Broad five times in 14 at an average of 44.2. But Bancroft will take first hit. 

2:26AM

Lunch

England are all out for 302. They looked serene at 245 for four but it's not a terrible total. It's more than Australia got here in 2013 and more than England have scored in a first innings here since 2002.

I'm going to stretch my legs for a few minutes. Play will resume in about 40 minutes. Enjoy this while the players eat. Some of the players, that is. Moeen is bowling in the indoor nets. 

 

2:17AM

Wicket!!

Broad c Handscomb b Hazlewood 20A top-edged pull caught at backward square leg by Handscomb. England are all out for 302 and that's lunch. 

2:15AM

OVER 116: ENG 301/9 (Anderson 4* Broad 20*)

Shaun Marsh drops a steepling catch on the boundary. His hands above his head are burst by the ball which hits him on his cap-covered noggin and bounces over the rope for four. A massive top-edged hook from Broad takes England to Australia's first dig score in 2013. Broad pulls two more off Starc, one through midwicket for two, the next over cow corner for four more. That's the 300 up and he jackknifes to avoid the last ball, a vicious bouncer. This is terrific. Yes, England have collapsed in a way from 245 for four but this is a competitive total now. And Australia, having been cock-a-hoop, are a bit riled now. 

 

2:10AM

OVER 115: ENG 291/9 (Anderson 4* Broad 10*)

Lunch will be delayed until 2.30am or until the last wicket falls. Anderson steps to leg to pull Cummins and top-edges over the keeper for four. Steve Smith smiles. This kind of total sets  us up for a classic nipper. Anderson tells Cummins to shut up after he follows one that lofts outside off before dragging his bat out of the way. Cummins laughs then clocks him on the biceps with the last delivery. Here's the Woakes dismissal:

Woakes is out driving 'naively' according to Boycott G Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

2:06AM

OVER 114: ENG 286/9 (Anderson 0* Broad 9*)

The bell tolls. David Warner decides to chirp Jimmy Anderson after he survives the last two balls by swaying out of the road. 

2:02AM

Wicket!!

Ball c Warner b StarcTerrific catch at leg gully. Ball tried to flick it off his hip and the diving Warner took off to his right to bag it with both hands. FOW 286/9

1:59AM

OVER 113: ENG 285/8 (Ball 14* Broad 8*)

Cummins peppers Ball, who ducks the first, then fends one off with an angled bat through gully for a single. Smith calls up a leg slip for Broad, Cummins bumps him at 87 mph and the batsman ducks. Broad gets up on his toes to punch a single through point and Ball faces the last from round the wicket that flies past his hip. Ball does flay at it but misses. 

Paine waits for Bairstow's top-edged pull to drop Credit: Jason O'Brien/PA

 

1:54AM

OVER 112: ENG 283/8 (Ball 13* Broad 7*)

Ball pushes forward with a prodded defensive and the ball scoots past slip for four. But the next two are intended, a glorious slog sweep for four and then a back-foot punched drive for another. All valuable. Right idea. And then he farms the strike. 

1:51AM

OVER 111: ENG 270/8 (Ball 0* Broad 7*)

Bairstow, an expert tail marshal, was kept quiet by a couple of dots he tried to drive but couldn't time then and could not resist the short one. The batsmen cross and Broad survives the last three. Cummins chirps him but does not remove him. 

1:46AM

Wicket!!

Bairstow c Paine b Cummins 9

Chasing runs he top edges a pull that steeples over his shoulder and Paine has to take only three strides to pouch the catch. FOW 270/8

1:45AM

OVER 110: ENG 270/7 (Bairstow 9* Broad 7*)

 Broad flicks Lyon through midwicket and saunters a single, Bairstow takes one to cover and Broad styrokes a glorious cover drive for two. For Bairstow's single Lyon felt Broad, backing up, was in his way so barged him out of the road. This goat goes trip trapping over Broad's bridge. 

Here's the second wicket of the morning. 

Moeen is trapped by Lyon Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

1:41AM

OVER 109: ENG 266/7 (Bairstow 8* Broad 4*)

This score is very precarious but let's not forget that here in 2013 Australia batted first and were bowled out for 295. They won handsomely. England don't have a Mitchell Johnson, of course, or a Rhino Harris. But they do have Anderson, Broad, Ball, Woakes and Moeen. It's not all over. Lovely from Bairstow - whipping Cummins through midwicket for two then scything a square cut for four. He essays a couple more big shots, a late cut and a pull but cannot beat the field. 

Here's the first of today's wickets:

Shaun Marsh catches Dawid Malan for 56 Credit: Chris Hyde - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

 

1:36AM

OVER 108: ENG 260/7 (Bairstow 2* Broad 4*)

A ripper of an off-spinner beats the bat and the keeper and scoots for four byes. Bairstow plays with the spin for a single and Broad drops to one knee to lap four behind square. Lunch will be at 2am GMT. Twenty-five minutes to survive.  

 

1:33AM

OVER 107: ENG 251/7 (Bairstow 1* Broad 0*)

Cummins is brought on for a pre-lunch dart at Bairstow and he begins round the wicket with a bouncer. Immediately he abandons that and comes over the wicket. Bairstow gets off the mark from the 10th ball, a back-foot punch past cover for a single. Broad is on strike and about to be given a sniff of red leather. Indeed he is greeted with a bouncer and he ducks it. As he does for its encore. My he's crouching low in his stance. 'Call him turtle,' says Adam Gilchrist. Vaughan thinks it's hilarious. The last ball, from over the wicket this time, cannons into the left-hander's arm-guard. 

1:26AM

OVER 106: ENG 250/7 (Bairstow 0* Broad 0*)

Broad would not be more of a villain and received as such were he wearing a black hat and twirling the ends of his waxed moustache. He's given the bird on entry and somehow he survives a testing, big spinning baptism from Lyon. Hearts are not so much in mouths here as coming out of the eyes. 

1:23AM

Wicket!!

Woakes b Lyon 0

Good grief. Lyon gave it a lovely arced flight, it dipped rapidly and spun. Woakes went for an expansive cover drive and was thoroughly castled. FOW 250/7

 

1:22AM

OVER 105: ENG 250/6 (Bairstow 0* Woakes 0*)

Starc to Bairstow who stands, bat raised. He's using a bat without sponsor's stickers so must be between deals. The bowler is straining for a yorker, straining for poles but Bairstow digs the first one out, watches as a wild but unthreatening bouncer adds a wide to the total and defends a couple back down the ground. There's a crater where Starc's right foot lands in his delivery stride that is causing his ankle to to bevel slightly. Could be dangerous. 

1:17AM

OVER 104: ENG 249/6 (Bairstow 0* Woakes 0*)

Woakes looks all at sea against Lyon's bounce and big turn but survives.

Credit: BT SPORT

 

1:15AM

Wicket!

Moeen lbw b Lyon 38

It would have only skimmed the top of middle but because Aleem Dar gave it out, Moeen has to head back to the hutch. One brings two. Again. We're now in treacherous waters. FOW 249/6

1:12AM

England review

Moeen lbw b Lyon

Straightened. No bat. It's umpire's call. He's out. 

1:12AM

OVER 103: ENG 247/5 (Bairstow 0* Ali 36*)

He got the height right, Starc, and used it to take his 150th Test wicket and break the 83-run fifth-wicket partnership. Enter Jonny Bairstow and it;s essential he builds on his best Test score in Australia, the 21 at the MCG on the last tour. Starc comes back over to Bairstow after Moeen controls a pull for a single (the batsmen having crossed). The honorary Yorkshireman greets his fellow Tyke with a bumper that Bairstow ducks. 

 

1:06AM

Wicket!!

Malan c Marsh b Starc 56

At last Starc gets it up enough to find the top edge and Malan's pull goes down square leg's throat. FOW 246/5

1:05AM

OVER 102: ENG 245/4 (Malan 56* Ali 34*)

Lots of oohing from the fielders. Australia thing they're having a rum time with luck generally so far. Moeen mistimes a slog sweep and spoons the shot in the air off the toe in the opposite direction but it falls short of cover. He then middles a flick that bursts through Bancroft again. Another drop, technically and they run two.

1:02AM

OVER 101: ENG 242/4 (Malan 56* Ali 31*)

Starc can't get his bouncer up high enough and Malan pulls him witheringly for four off his shoulders. He needs more trampoline bounce to find the top edge.  He also used his pull shot to earn a single off the first ball while Moeen flicks one off his hip, uppishly, but securely.  Here's the collision between Marsh and Starc. After Simon Jones, why would anyone slide at the Gabba? 

Australia's Mitchell Starc collides with Shaun Marsh Credit: Jason O'Brien/PA

 

12:57AM

OVER 100: ENG 236/4 (Malan 51* Ali 30*)

It wouldn't be the Ashes without those Advanced Hair Studio ads. It's the best thing Darren Gough has ever done apparently. Lyon bowls his 11th maiden, this one to Moeen, who defends without drama. 

12:56AM

OVER 99: ENG 236/4 (Malan 51* Ali 30*)

As Mel Farrell points out, all three of Matt Hayden's 'nobodies' have scored fifties. Starc, bandaged and in new Persil bright strides, is coming on to bowl round the wicket to the left-handers. Malan has a Gowery flicky pull at the first and could easily have gloved it through to Paine. Starc is targeting his hip and has a short leg and leg slip there. Ricky Ponting suggests changing his guard and that because both are compulsive, ie natural, pullers they're going to be led into temptation. Malan rolls his wrists to pull a single, Moeen leg glances another and then Maln connects with a full-blooded pull shot that crashes straight into short leg's grille. Talk about mental disintegration, that would have been dental disintegration for Cameron Bancroft but for the helmet. Even the rebound into the shoulder would have smarted. Technically a dropped catch. 

12:46AM

OVER 98: ENG 234/4 (Malan 50* Ali 29*)

Malan sweeps for a single - following Moeen's example and raises his half-century. Ten fours in the knock so far. And that's drinks. Australia need a strategy discussion and the disruption of concentration a break can bring. 

12:44AM

OVER 97: ENG 233/4 (Malan 49* Ali 29*)

A pair of singles into the legside for each, both back-foot tucks off the thighpad.  Here's Starc's battle of wounded knee.

Mitchell Starc of Australia leaves the ground after he cut his knee on the spikes of Sean Marsh  Credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

 

12:41AM

OVER 96: ENG 231/4 (Malan 48* Ali 28*)

Rare piece of filth from Lyon, dragging one down and giving Malan a long hop to scythe four through point. Lyon recovers well with a snorter that fizzes past the outside edge then finishes the over with another that drifts, dips, pitches on middle and rips past the edge of Malan's Gunn & Moore. Here's BT Sport's graphic showing us that as well as Lyon is bowling, he hasn't delivered one that would have hit the poles yet today. So he's handicapping himself, ruling out one method of dismissal.

Nathan Lyon's pitch map Credit: BT SPORT

 

12:35AM

OVER 95: ENG 226/4 (Malan 44* Ali 28*)

Malan pulls Cummins and Starc has to go off after spiking himself with his boot when he slid. Shaun Marsh also caught him with his studs. Blood was drawn and there might be more damage than his ripped whites. No, he looks fine as he jogs off for a plaster and a fresh pair of strides. They run two then Malan ends the over with a boundary, smeared through the covers. 

 

12:31AM

OVER 94: ENG 220/4 (Malan 38* Ali 28*)

He sized up the slog sweep in Lyon's last over and discretion proved the better part of valour. Not here, though, timing it astutely and crashing it for four with a thumpingly good shot. We have Damien Fleming and Graeme Swannon commentary now and the latter is pointing out that well as Lyon has bowled, he's not targeting the stumps at all, which is unforgivable on a once-in-a-lifetime first innings pitch. Smith, not that we would know it in England, has ranks of critics in Australia for his conservative captaincy and his field placings here, not giving Lyon a silly point, short leg and even short gully, demonstrate why he isn't as respected as his batting would demand. 

12:26AM

OVER 93: ENG 216/4 (Malan 38* Ali 23*)

 Here they are, the army of Richie's who have, in Billy Birmingham's immortal skit, hotfooted it down the clothiers with the request: The cream, the bone, the white, the off-white, the ivory, or the beige?

You just wouldn't read about it!  Credit:  Jason O'Brien/PA

Nice shot from Malan, a controlled square drive, little follow through, squeezes the ball for two past cover point. When Cummins tempst him with another one to drive he does throw his hands through it but is thwarted by Bancroft's brilliance at short cover. 

12:21AM

OVER 92: ENG 214/4 (Malan 36* Ali 23*)

Better from Moeen in dealing with the spinner's uncanny bounce and nagging accuracy. He shapes to slog sweep but pulls out of the shot when the ball is too close to him and resists the temptation to danc down the wicket when Lyon tries to diddle him in the flight. 

12:19AM

OVER 91: ENG 214/4 (Malan 36* Ali 23*)

Cummins digs one into Moeen's ribs. The batsman gets up on his toes to tuck it to midwicket for a single which allows Malan five balls to show us how much he's learnt about bobbing and weaving. It looks like he's taken a leaf out of the Gooch-Boycott book. Most batsman duck and he does too - but he also withdraws inside the line, winding in his neck, something Fitzwilliam's finest has not had to do metaphorically in his long post-playing career.  

12:15AM

OVER 90: ENG 213/4 (Malan 36* Ali 22*)

The off-spinner also starts round to the left-handers with a short leg and slip. Unfailingly accurate from the off he delivers an absolute ripper to Moeen that pitches on middle and fizzes past off-stump. Yikes. Little footwork but Moeen learns his lesson to get right forward and smother the next then flicks the last off his pads for a single that brings up the fifty partnership. 

Paul Hayward, our chief sportswriter, all round top man and pickle magnate, is either watching Tubs on C9 or chatting to the best captain of the past 40 years.

 

12:11AM

OVER 89: ENG 212/4 (Malan 36* Ali 21*)

A moral if not a meaningful victory for Cummins against Moeen, the happy hooker. Hot spot shows the ball connecting with the bottom square inch of the top-edge toe of  his bat as he pulled it off his eyebrows. It didn't get up quickly enough which affected his timing. The ball sailed over the square leg umpire and dropped short of the man running in from the boundary. He runs a single. Malan defends a couple with soft hands and one takes the edge but dies in front of the cordon. Cummins cranks it up to release a real effort bounce and Malan retreats his head to take a sniff but not a blow on the hooter.  Here comes Lyon. 

12:07AM

OVER 88: ENG 211/4 (Malan 36* Ali 20*)

Australia have no Shane Watson anymore and Steve Smith barely turns his arm over these days so the four-man attack is vulnerable the longer England endure here. If they can keep them in the field until tea or beyond, they're going to be hellishly footsore. Hazlewood has found a miserly line and length now and racks up another maiden but Malan plays each ball that needed to be played with encouraging assurance. 

Dawid Malan starts brightly Credit: Chris Hyde - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

 

12:02AM

OVER 87: ENG 211/4 (Malan 36* Ali 20*)

Starc is hooked quickly and replaced with Cummins. He begins round the wicket to Moeen and hits a perfect length, angling the ball into the left-hander but not yet at top pace, reaching between 84 and 85 mph. He defends a couple, leaves three and essays a cover drive that has too much of the toe in it to beat the cover fieldsman. Another maiden. Geoff Boycott says it's already time for Nathan Lyon. Speaking of whom ...

“Garry” was the perfect nickname for Nathan Lyon. It embodies his everyman charm and the unassuming qualities of an assiduous artisan.

It was borrowed from the Aussie rules player Garry Lyon and heard at every Test, first from the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, bellowed in a broad vowel-mangling Tasmanian drawl, elongated to last several seconds. The last syllable of his common cry, “Nice, Garry”, was delivered with a cheery, congratulatory uplift and so tickled Australian crowds that almost every dot ball the off-spinner delivers is honoured with a mass chorus of the refrain.

But it is not Lyon’s nickname anymore. His team-mates have appropriated another and not from a former Melbourne centre half-forward this time but from that most famous and treasured of all sportsmen, Muhammad Ali. Lyon is now known as “Goat”, for “greatest of all time” in recognition of the 269 Test wickets that have made him, almost by stealth, the most successful finger-spinner in Australian Test history.

Read the full article here  

11:55PM

OVER 86: ENG 211/4 (Malan 36* Ali 20*)

Hazlewood comes round the wicket to Malan and is starting to find his range.  A couple of good blocks and leaves from Malan until the bowler bumps him. Malan rocks back to try to replicate that sumptuous pull from last night but it hits the bottom half of his horizontal bat and squirts to the mat at square leg. Maiden. 

11:52PM

OVER 85: ENG 211/4 (Malan 36* Ali 20*)

Mitchell Starc will have his first dart at Moeen this morning. He bangs the first in and Moeen drops to his haunches to duck out of the way. But the next generates the first scare of the morning. It seems to stick in the pitch which ruins the batsman's timing so his back-foot cover drive pops off the splice and falls juts short of Bancroft at short cover. Until the pitch thoroughly dries out it has a certain Janus quality. Starc fires a full toss into Moeen's pads and he steers two through midwicket with a stroke rather than a hit. 

Enjoyed this from the wonderful Scott Oliver on Thanksgiving.

 

11:46PM

OVER 84: ENG 209/4 (Malan 36* Ali 18*)

Adam Gilchrist is vexed by Hazlewood's length, encouraging him to bowl fuller. Moeen drops his hands to play a defensive shot that makes the ball die in front of the slips. Gossamer wrists. A grand 'ooh' when Hazlewood veers one into his pads and Moeen squeezes it out for a single to midwicket. Plenty of discretion so far defensively but when it's there to hit both have gone for it. 

11:42PM

OVER 83: ENG 208/4 (Malan 36* Ali 17*)

What a shot from Malan, leaning into a cover drive and creaming it for four. Australia's bowlers are having the kind of start that makes captains tear their hair out. Wide and woolly. Steve Smith will end up looking like Andrew Strauss if this carries on. No shape at all from Starc but a great deal of encouraging bounce but he hasn't slipped one yet. Malan defends a couple, whips one to midwicket for no run and check drives into the covers. Three overs, three boundaries. 

The England fifth-wicket pair stroll out to resume their partnership Credit: Jason O'Brien/PA

 

11:37PM

OVER 82: ENG 204/4 (Malan 32* Ali 17*)

Hazlewood will take the new ball from the other end, searching for that metronome accuracy that evaded him yesterday. He's wiry and strong - a purveyor of the semi-mythical heavy ball. Moeen lets the first bounce through to the keeper. Better carry today and pushes a couple down the pitch. Hint of outswing. I can hear Geoffrey - not on commentary on the TV feed at the moment - in my mind's ear, offering 'Pitch it oop.' Hazlewood does and Moeen lofts a straight drive back over the bolwer's head for four. What a nerve he has. Hazlewood is the picture of someone who has been violated, which, in a way, he was then. 

11:32PM

OVER 81: ENG 200/4 (Malan 32* Ali 13*)

Play! Starc swings the second ball into Malan's pads but is bowling ratpower first up and the left-hander leans into a firm flick to deep midwicket for four. It runs down the hill and has the legs to beat the diving fielder. He leaves the last as it bounces high outside off-stump. That's the 200 up for England, which is greeted with the final verse of Jerusalem. 

11:28PM

Look who's talking to Joe Root

Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root discuss technique on the second morning of the first Test Credit: Jason O'Brien/PA

 Here come the fieldsmen and we will begin in a couple of minutes. 

11:22PM

It's oppressively warm at the Gabba

And we will begin with the last three balls of Starc's first over with the new ball. Australia used a review with the final ball of last night/this morning's play for so have one left for the next 477 balls - should England last that long, of course. (And if they do, I shall be dancing a solo jig around the deserted newsroom, singing Johnners' Ashes song:

When we arrived people said/ The Aussies would leave us for dead/ But we knew we would prove them wrong/ And that's why we're singing this song/ Oh! The feeling is great/ For losing is something we hate

11:17PM

The headline on the back of the Courier-Mail

Suggests Australian brass spring eternal 

Credit: Courier-Mail

 

11:09PM

Good evening

Rob Bagchi here, your guide for the first two sessions.

“Where there is no beauty, there is no cricket,” wrote Neville Cardus and though eulogies about picturesque venues in Australia are reserved, proprietorially, by those besotted by the Adelaide Oval, Wollongabba had a charm all its own. The jacarandas, eucalyptus and agapanthas used to offset the electiric, plastic hues of the eskies carried by the thousands of banana benders making their annual pilgrimage to the Test. Now the ground, with its clever trompe l’oeil seat colours designed to gull you that they’re all occupied at first glance, has joined most of the rest as a living tribute to the beauty of nothing more than poured concrete. Yet wherever you look, you can’t help but be captivated by the verdant emerald of the grass illuminated by the tyrannical severity of a phosphorescent sun. That brightness, as much as any memory of play, is the essence of the Ashes in Australia for me.

Last night’s play ended with the match evenly – that is to say precariously – poised. James Vince, a batsman whose selection I must here admit to having characterised as being cheerled by some of the most high profile gung ho commentators in the game, batted beautifully and, above all, at least until taking on Nathan Lyon’s arm, intelligently. The brittle promise of his innings against Pakistan in the summer of 2016 was transformed in front of our half-lidded eyes into something altogether more substantial. Mark Stoneman batted with great diligence and Dawid Malan demonstrated great judgment and execution to smear the bad balls and survive the rest. The three weakest links in England’s batting line-up have all proved themselves to one degree or another.

However, danger lies ahead as it always does at the Gabba. The pitch will not harden all that much until mid-afternoon but Mitchell Starc finding his range and Josh Hazlewood overcoming his peculiarly tepid first day could still help Pat Cummins blow England away for an uncompetitive score and Lyon can bowl as dry as ‘a pommie’s bathmat’ in the words of Barry McKenzie. Much depends on the pluck and ingenuity of Moeen, Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes. It will not be comfortable viewing initially but after yesterday we can say England are a damn sight tougher than most pundits had deduced. 

11:03PM

The 'big first hour'

From Nick Hoult in Brisbane...

One of the most common cricket utterances during a Test match is the ‘big first hour’. Both James Vince and Pat Cummins said it yesterday in the post-play press conferences, signalling that the opening exchanges today will dictate which team is on top.

It rarely works out that way. England will be hoping Moeen Ali does his best David Gower impression and smokes boundaries to grab the initiative and Australia will be desperate for the Gabba pitch to live up to its usual characteristic of being quicker on the second day.

There was overnight rain in Brisbane but it is hotter today than yesterday. If the pitch is baked hard, Australia’s quick bowlers, armed with a second new ball only three balls old, promise to give us the first real glimpse of their menace. Conversely, the harder ball, quicker pitch could suit England’s lower-order stroke-players - Moeen, Malan and Bairstow. Perhaps for once the ‘big first hour’ cliche will ring true.

Ashes 2017-18 first Test | Day one round-up from Brisbane

Pressure is already on the Australia selectors. The Tim Paine call-up is under scrutiny after his error yesterday when he dropped his only chance off Vince. Shaun Marsh has not even had a bat yet but questions are being asked about picking a player with such a chequered fitness record. David Warner let slip in his on-field interview during yesterday’s rain break that Marsh had been given ‘a jab’ to get him on the field. There are big concerns over whether his back will last the series.

Plenty of headlines in Australia this morning stating that Vince and Mark Stoneman are ‘no names no more’ after announcing their arrivals in Ashes cricket on day one. Time for Malan to do the same? He looked comfortable against the pace bowlers, enjoying the ball coming on to the bat and playing a lovely cut or two. It was Lyon, spinning the ball past his outside edge who caused him problems. Big first hour indeed.

England's Ashes schedule | Fixtures, dates and times
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