James Vince blunted the much-hyped Australia attack but fell foul of England’s new number one enemy Nathan Lyon just when he was all set to tame the Gabba on day one of the Ashes.
Vince (83) responded to the departure of lynchpin opener Alastair Cook in just the third over of the series by sharing a century stand with Mark Stoneman which belied inevitable nerves on this huge stage, as the tourists closed day one on 196 for four.
Vince was dropped by wicketkeeper Tim Paine on 68 pushing forward to Lyon but appeared on course for a maiden Test century, only for the off-spinner to snatch it away with a brilliant direct-hit to run him out attempting a faulty single to cover.
It was a moment which reinvigorated Australia and their hostile home support as Joe Root then also fell lbw to Pat Cummins’ old-ball swing and pace.
It was a bit of a head-scratcher when national selector James Whitaker proclaimed Vince as a batsman with the technique specifically suited to succeed in Australia. A series of edged drives in home conditions did not square with his thesis.
Here, though, with less pace and bounce than anticipated at the Gabba to discomfort England’s new number three, a lack of sideways movement off the pitch helped him prosper through the off-side.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Stoneman’s on-drive for four off Cummins, the fourth ball he faced after lunch, was especially convincing and emblematic of England’s largely unflustered approach despite the early loss of Cook.
No one could blame Joe Root for saying nothing of the sort before the event – it was Vince’s call to cover. But the England captain could be forgiven for uttering exactly that after his partner had contrived to run himself out and let a maiden Test century go begging, with significant help from Lyon’s brilliant throw.
He and England can only hope he still has power to add for the rest of the series.
STAT OF THE DAY
42 – Vince’s previous joint-highest Test score, in 11 previous innings. He was not everyone’s obvious choice for this tour, but immediately demonstrated rich capabilities on this grand stage – before passing up his golden opportunity.
TWEET OF THE DAY
“THE GOAT! RUN OUT! That’s huge! Vince gone for 83. England 3-145” – cricket Australia’s official feed had no doubt about the importance of Lyon’s intervention from cover.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) November 23, 2017
England need to resume their good work on day two, and make sure they do not squander their foothold in this series.
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