Australia has received its first taste of ‘Bazball’.
Joe Root’s 30th Test century headlined an eventful day one of the Ashes opener in Birmingham, with England declaring at 8-393 after 78 exhilarating overs at Edgbaston.
In response, Australian openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja survived a nervy four-over passage of play, with the visitors 0-14 at stumps.
Root held England’s innings together with an unbeaten 118, his first Test century against Australia since 2015, benefiting from the lifeless pitch as the hosts scored at better than five runs per over.
The former England captain whipped out a flurry of reverse ramps and unorthodox sweeps on his way towards triple figures — he was supported by opener Zak Crawley and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who both scored fifties on Friday.
Australian spinner Nathan Lyon picked up four wickets, including the bizarre dismissal of Harry Brook, before an aggressive declaration from England captain Ben Stokes in the evening session.
ASHES MATCH CENTRE: Edgbaston Test scorecard, stats
Scott Boland retained his spot in Australia’s XI after a superb performance in the World Test Championship final against India last week, with Mitchell Starc sidelined for the Ashes opener.
England elected to bat first after winning the toss, and Crawley got the Ashes underway by bludgeoning the first delivery of the series through cover — the Edgbaston crowd erupted, and skipper Ben Stokes looked gobsmacked from the dugout.
However, an early breakthrough for Josh Hazlewood silenced the Birmingham crowd in the fourth over — England opener Ben Duckett slashed at a wide delivery on 12, with the edge carrying through to gloveman Alex Carey.
Get all the latest cricket news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!
England kept the scoreboard ticking despite the early setback — Crawley looked in fine touch throughout the first hour, repeatedly driving through the covers with authority.
The 25-year-old, scoring at nearly a run-a-ball in Birmingham, brought up his fifty-run partnership alongside England vice-captain Ollie Pope with a gorgeous late cut off Boland.
The Victorian returned serve with an absolute peach that jumped off a good length and flew through to Carey at head height, but UltraEdge replays suggested Australia had missed an outside edge. None of the Australians had appealed, and Crawley grinned sheepishly following his reprieve on 40.
The England opener brought up his half-century not long after, reaching the minor milestone in 56 deliveries.
Crawley smiles as outside edge missed! | 00:24
Australia’s DRS fortunes changed a couple of overs later when Lyon trapped Pope on the pads from around the wicket — umpire Ahsan Raza initially shook his head, but Australian captain Pat Cummins reviewed the decision, with the England No. 3 departing for 31.
Boland returned to the attack and struck on the final ball before lunch, removing Crawley with an absolute peach that jumped off a good length and flicked the right-hander’s thumb. Umpire Marais Erasmus bizarrely didn’t see the deflection, but Crawley was sent packing after another successful Australian review.
Rising star Harry Brook immediately signalled his intent after the lunch break, slicing a pair of elegant boundaries inside-out over cover before Travis Head gifted him an extra life on 24. The South Australian was slow to react after Brook’s lofted cut flew towards him at deep point, diving forward with the ball bobbling out of his hands.
The missed chance denied Boland a second wicket and prompted a roar of sarcastic cheers from the raucous Birmingham crowd. Head’s afternoon only went from bad to worse after a sloppy misfield on the boundary rope gave England an additional four runs.
In the blink of an eye, Brook and Root had put together a fifty-run partnership in just 54 balls, once again shifting momentum back in England’s favour.
But Brook’s luck ran out in the 38th over, falling victim to Lyon in strange circumstances for 32. The delivery slapped into Brook’s thigh guard and flew into the air, and after some desperate calls of “catch” from the Australians, the ball landed near his feet and bounced back into the stumps.
Stokes’ stay at the crease was brief, with the England captain fishing outside off stump against Hazlewood and feathering a catch through to Carey, gone for 1 — a desperate review couldn’t save him.
Hazlewood nailed England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow on the pads the very next delivery, prompting a review for LBW — but Hawkeye suggested the ball would have bounced over leg stump.
The topsy-turvy nature of day one continued when Root and Bairstow combined for a 121-run partnership for the sixth wicket in a counterattacking passage of play.
After the tea break, Root nailed a reverse scoop off Boland that flew over deep third man for the first six of the series. He repeated the absurd shot against Cummins later in the evening session.
Bairstow, playing his first Test knock since his horrific leg injury, reached fifty a few minutes later, only needing 58 balls to tick off the milestone.
Australia’s frustration grew when Bairstow’s outside edge against Hazlewood was put down by Carey behind the stumps, and the England wicketkeeper rubbed salt into the wounds by slapping the next delivery for four.
However, Carey redeemed himself the following over by executing a classy stumping off Lyon’s bowling, removing Bairstow for 78 (78).
“I just enjoyed being back out there,” Bairstow said at stumps.
“It took a bit of time to find my rhythm and get my hands and feet going.
“I think when you are coming off a layoff like I have it is going to take a bit of time.
“The occasion is what you live for and when your hands are going, that is exactly what I love.”
Moeen Ali, playing his first Test since August 2021, received warm applause as he walked out to bat, and Cummins welcomed the all-rounder’s return by dropping a one-handed return chance early in his knock.
The left-hander plundered a trio of boundaries in an entertaining cameo before Lyon deceived him in the air, stumped for 18 (17) after wildly charging down the crease. Meanwhile, Carey became the first Australian wicketkeeper to make two stumpings in the first innings of an Ashes Test since Bert Oldfield achieved the feat at Headingley in 1934.
Australian all-rounder Cameron Green was brought back into the attack and immediately knocked over England’s ‘Nighthawk’, with Stuart Broad departing for 16.
Root passed triple figures with a trademark glance off Lyon, kissing the badge on his helmet before saluting the adoring crowd — it was his fourth Test century against Australia and his first since 2015.
England declared their innings after Root smacked a couple of glorious sixes against Lyon, giving Australia half an hour to survive before stumps.
The Birmingham spectators were right behind Broad as he charged in at Warner, but the veteran opener survived the probing spell despite some confusion with Khawaja between the wickets.
Khawaja and Warner, who have both previously struggled in England, will look to chip away at the 379-run deficit when day two resumes on Saturday.
“We need to be patient,” Bairstow continued.
“They are going to hit the middle of the bat, they are good players.
“I have no doubt the guys will be able to call upon all those experiences when it has been flat.”