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Stuart Broad bags early wickets for England but James Anderson’s fitness a worry
Australia reached 83 for three at lunch.
Stuart Broad starred as England had Australia 83 for three on the first morning of the 2019 Ashes but an injury scare for fellow seamer James Anderson cast a shadow over the hosts’ bright start at Edgbaston.
The tourists opted to bat in the first Specsavers Test but lost their top three for just 35 as Broad accounted for openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – both booed to and from the crease following their roles in the sandpaper scandal – while World Cup winner Chris Woakes sent back Usman Khawaja.
A stand of 48 between Steve Smith, the third of Australia’s reunited ball-tampering trio, and Travis Head evened up the scales heading into the break as the rivals jostled for supremacy on day one of a possible 25 this summer.
Anderson’s fitness could yet prove to be a decisive factor, with the 37-year-old restricted to just four overs in the session after feeling tightness in his right calf. The nation’s record wicket-taker was sent for a scan on the problem, leaving England sweating over the most reliable bowler.
Tim Paine’s decision to bat first after winning the toss meant Warner and Bancroft were straight into the lion’s den. Catcalls rang around the ground as they walked to the crease, with the Hollies Stand upping the ante with a chorus of “cheats, cheats, cheats”.
Bancroft began by playing back an Anderson maiden but Warner almost gave his detractors their dream outcome when he nicked his first ball of the day down the leg side.
Broad appealed, as did wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, but neither umpire Aleem Dar or captain Joe Root were persuaded.
That was the start of a colourful but unaccomplished knock from Warner, who was spoken to about batting too far down and survived a loud lbw shout before being given for two when Broad beat him again bowling fast and full from round the wicket.
Dar was quick to raise the finger this time and Warner trudged off to widespread jeers as England fans sang “cheerio” and waved squares of sandpaper. Once again, though, replays told a different story, suggesting the ball would have slipped past the leg stump.
It took Bancroft 25 minutes to get off the mark, with a punched drive down the ground, but it was only a matter of time before Broad had his way. Having successfully pushed the opener deep with a series of yorker-length deliveries he pulled one back and drew a flimsy edge that Joe Root snaffled at slip.
Bancroft crossed with the incoming Smith as he left, inviting the loudest reactions yet, with Broad signalling to the fans to keep up the noise.
The seamer beat Smith’s outside edge three times on nought but Khawaja was next to go for 13, DRS confirming he had feathered Woakes behind.
Smith (23no) began to find his feet and Head (26no) hit four boundaries as Australia restored calm to their innings before the interval.