Australia’s defence of the Ashes urn started in remarkable fashion with Steve Smith’s 24th ton helping the visitors fight back strongly on day one of the first Test at Edgbaston.
The visitors had been reduced to 122-8 after electing to bat first with Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes doing most of the damage for England.
However, a gritty century from Smith on his Test return helped the Aussies eventually post a challenging first innings total of 284 in what was a gripping day of Test cricket in Birmingham.
After what was an electric start to the five-match Ashes series, we look at the key takeaways from the first day.
Warner’s DRS gaffe
David Warner’s Test return for Australia was a brief and eventful one with the opening batsman lasting just fourteen deliveries.
The left-hander should have been dismissed in the very first delivery bowled by Broad but was given a huge reprieve. Warner feathered an edge to a leg-side delivery bowled by the England pacer which the on-field umpire as well as the fielders failed to spot.
Broad and England did opt to take a review in the next over when their appeal for lbw was turned down but DRS showed the ball to be missing Warner’s stumps.
The relief on Warner’s face didn’t last too long with Broad finally getting the umpire to raise his finger after trapping the batsman on the pads again in the same over.
It was Warner this time who opted not to review the decision and it proved costly with replays showing that the ball would miss the stumps completely.
Smith stands tall in comeback
As Australia’s batsmen fell like a pack of cards at the other end on day one at Edgbaston, Smith stood tall with a defiant innings on his Test return.
Like Warner, the former skipper was loudly booed by a packed crowd at Edgbaston but he did not show any signs of flinching under the pressure in an epic display at the crease.
With his gritty innings, the right-hander has sent out a loud message that he is still the best when it comes to the five-day format. It wasn’t the prettiest of knocks by any means by Smith but he absorbed all the pressure in his characteristic unorthodox batting style.
Waves of ‘sandpaper’ were mockingly aimed at aim throughout day one but the Aussie star was a picture of concentration at the crease as he brought up a magnificent ninth Ashes ton.
England’s day marred by Anderson’s injury
While England will feel they have the upper hand after an eventful day one, it might have come at the big cost of James Anderson. The veteran England pacer had come into the game under an injury cloud after only recently recovering from a calf injury he picked up for Lancashire.
Anderson bowled just four overs in the first session of the day before complaining of tightness in his right calf. The 37-year-old did not take the field again after lunch with word from the England dressing room being that he was being sent for scans.
The hosts now face the dreaded prospect of losing their pace spearhead for the rest of the match and, potentially, a big chunk of the five-match series. Being one leading bowler short for the rest of the match could take its toll on Joe Root’s men and cracks were already starting to show in the final session as Smith and Australia’s tail-enders made waves.
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