The Ashes: England bowled out for just 147 at the ‘Gabbatoir’ on thrilling opening day
As cricket’s oldest rivalry renewed for the 72nd time at the Gabba in Brisbane — nicknamed the “Gabbatoir” because of its ominous record — it was the hosts who were on top literally from the first ball.
In a moment which could set the tone for the rest of the five-Test series, England’s opening batter Rory Burns was bowled by Mitchell Starc with the very first ball of the Test in front of a raucous crowd.
And the hardy folk who stayed up to watch back in England, with the time gone past midnight, might have been reaching for the TV remote as their team were reduced to 11-3 not long after as captain and stalwart Joe Root was dismissed for zero.
With England on the ropes, Australia went for the jugular, led by newly-appointed captain and star fast bowler Pat Cummins.
Cummins was only named the captain weeks before the start of the series after Tim Paine stepped down over a “sexting” scandal, which had laid dormant for more than three years.
But he showed no sign of the responsibility possibly weighing him down on his Test captain debut.
After losing the toss and being asked to bowl first by Root, along with his fellow fast bowlers, Cummins ripped through the England batting lineup, eventually finishing with figures of 5-38.
“Pretty crazy … it’s all gone to plan so far,” Cummins said after the first day. “You’re always in the game on the morning of day one.
“The body felt decent. I’ve bowled better before and haven’t got as many rewards.”
He added: “It’s tradition that if you bowl first and it doesn’t work out, you get hounded, whereas if you bat first and it doesn’t come off, you kind of get left alone.”
England’s only resistance came in the form of Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope, who together formed a 52-run partnership to steady the ship somewhat.
However, it didn’t prevent England falling to a poor 147 as they fight to regain the Ashes.
The visitors were all out by the tea break, but a storm meant Australia could not begin their reply, so will have to wait for day two on Thursday.
Wednesday’s collapse continues years of struggle for England at the Gabba. England have not won at the ground since Mike Gatting’s team in the 1986/87 series, with six of the last eight trips to Brisbane ending in defeat.
The last time England didn’t lose at the Gabba in 2010, they went on to win the 2010/11 Ashes, only their second triumph on Australian soil in the last 34 years.
“There was frustration that we haven’t been able to put on that big score that we wanted,” Pope said afterward. “Obviously, frustrated as a unit, but we’re not going to get too down.
“It’s a long tour, it’s a long series. Going to keep our spirits high, come fighting tomorrow.
“I think we’ve got the skill set in our bowlers to drag this back. We’re going to keep fighting. We don’t know how (the wicket) is going to react tomorrow.”