38th over: England 107-5 (Pope 30, Buttler 35) Driven through long-on by Pope, and a good chase from Head is required to drag the ball back and save Lyon a boundary. Three runs instead. But Buttler takes strike and gets all four with a drive through extra cover, waiting for the ball to dip and then driving alone the ground. Top shot to a delivery too full.
37th over: England 100-5 (Pope 27, Buttler 31) Rapturous applause from segments of the ground as Pope slides Starc down to fine leg for the run that raises England’s hundred. Then Buttler is nearly caught at short cover! We foreshadowed that, and he does exactly what he does, reaching for a drive and hitting it low but aerially. It bounces just in front of Labuschagne, into his hands on the half-volley.
36th over: England 98-5 (Pope 26, Buttler 30) Nathan ‘Nathan’ Lyon gets another crack at bowling. Pate nude and polished, limbs gangly, he approaches the crease like a windchime in a stiff breeze. Pope whips a single. This next contest will be interesting. Does Buttler try to take down the spinner? Not in the first instance, having a few looks before driving one run down the ground off the back foot.
35th over: England 96-5 (Pope 25, Buttler 29) Baby’s first review! Cummins and Carey each take their first DRS appeal upstairs as Buttler can’t catch up with a ball down the leg side. Starc appealed but then didn’t look convinced about reviewing it. The others were. Nothing on it. Outside off stump might be more likely to be where Starc gets Buttler, with pace sliding a top edge from an angled bat into the cordon, that sort of thing. Buttler plays it out, driving the last ball back to the bowler who fields well.
34th over: England 96-5 (Pope 25, Buttler 29) Josh Hazlewood, which is of course French for Josh Has The Wood, takes the Kookaburra from the Stanley Street end. Pope nudges a run into the covers. Buttler and Josh, this is a good battle. Hazlewood gives him a straight enough line for Buttler to whip three runs through midwicket. Gosh he looks good today. The sun is peeking out again. Batting is possible. Had the top order been able to scrap through for long enough that Root was batting now, for instance, the call to bat would have been paying off.
“I still reckon batting was the right call,” writes Luke McLaughlin. “Burns jumped out of the way of a leg-stump half-volley and Malan never needed to play his one. OK, Root and Stokes, brilliant bowling, but the very, very impressive Hameed showed that batting isn’t impossible.”
Confirmation bias is a hell of a drug. We’ll hear endlessly from people today that obviously England should have bowled, because England lost wickets batting. Rather, England didn’t bat well, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have taken the opportunity to try to bat well.
33rd over: England 92-5 (Pope 24, Buttler 26) Buttler! You cad! Rocks back and sashays Cummins away through backward point with a leaning cut shot. Lots of flourish there. That’s 26 off 26. If he can just keep this up for another 150 balls or so they’ll be well placed.
32nd over: England 87-5 (Pope 23, Buttler 22) Again Buttler goes through extra cover, taking on Hazlewood. Picks up three runs as Head slides near the boundary to pull the ball back. The field changes for Buttler. Third slip goes to cover. He does have a tendency to be caught there, so it’s not exactly a defensive move. When he gets strike back from Pope, though, he drives through midwicket for two. This is good stuff, 22 from 23 balls now.
31st over: England 81-5 (Pope 22, Buttler 17) Australia attacks, Buttler counterattacks, Cummins counter-counterattacks. Bowls a beauty, past the outside edge as the wicketkeeper pushes at nothing. Buttler counter-counter-counters by getting up on his toes to punch through point again, three more runs. He’s got 17 at basically a run a ball. Pope clips a brace, then gets some ice on his arm where he took that impact.
30th over: England 76-5 (Pope 20, Buttler 14) Shot from Buttler! The field is up – the only player in the deep is fine leg – and there is no one at cover. So there is no need to keep the ball down, and Buttler steps into Hazlewood’s length ball and drives it lofted, on the up, over extra cover for four.
Deciding that felt good, he aims to end the over with another, this time over mid-on. The bat turns in his fist and the ball goes straighter, and very high. Entirely safe though, and it pitches just inside the rope and stops to yield three runs.
29th over: England 69-5 (Pope 20, Buttler 7) At least there’s some busyness at the crease between Pope and Buttler. Zipping up and back for a couple of singles. Cummins doesn’t like that, so he gives Pope a bouncer, then bowls a mid-length short ball that crashes into Pope’s back arm around the bicep. Flex it off, buddy.
28th over: England 67-5 (Pope 19, Buttler 6) Softly spoken but carrying a big stick, Buttler can do damage. He just hasn’t done it all that often in Test cricket. He almost nicks off for nought here, playing a big drive at Hazlewood that misses the ball completely. Undaunted, he goes for another from a slightly fuller ball, a cover drive with a wristy flick to it for four. Then rides the bounce to push two through point. If you can score like that from Hazlewood’s optimum length, you’ll go a long way to succeeding against him.
27th over: England 60-5 (Pope 18, Buttler 0) Last chance saloon then, with Buttler and Pope together. A 200 partnership sounds about right. Cummins has 2 for 17 in his first innings as captain.
“I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?”
In this scene, the lunch break is played by Samuel L. Jackson.
Straightforward quality stuff from Cummins. Full enough to draw the feet, tight enough line to draw a shot, movement enough to draw the edge. Hameed probably doesn’t need to play at this, but only just. He edges to second slip.
Apologies to Tom Kirkpatrick, from a couple of minutes to go. “I’m in Guatemala, not England, but I’m still with you. I’ll be up for a few more hours to see if Hameed and Pope can make a start on the 200 partnership we need from them. You never know.. they could do it.”
“I was sitting in the stand at the Stanley Street end behind the bowler watching Harmisons first ball,” writes Scott Flavell. “It was worse than today’s first ball. There was such anticipation that was immediately deflated. Today was a hard one for Burns first up.”
I don’t feel that Burns was too hard done by. A fast swinging full ball is tricky, but walking across so far that you expose your leg stump is a technical failing. He could have survived it otherwise.
Righto, I’ve got a plate, the lunchtime kids’ matches are happening, and there’s time to take a breath. Is anyone in England still with us? You’ve got to stay with your team no matter what… Could be a comeback on the cards.
Here are the collected Australian commentary services on the first ball of the match. Jim Maxwell 4 Eva for me, obviously.
What an extraordinary session. A wicket with the first ball of an Ashes series? How often has that happened? Starc bowled fast and curled the ball onto the leg stump of Rory Burns. Moving across his crease was his downfall. The three after that were all nicked off, Hazlewood and Cummins bowling their hard length immaculately and landing it on the seam. Basic fast bowling, but top quality as well. Hameed and Pope have played in a way that suggests that the degree of difficulty is easing, and now it will be up to them and once again England’s lower order to fashion some sort of total here.
Time for a break.
26th over: England 59-4 (Hameed 25, Pope 17) Hameed gets back to Lyon’s off-break and punches it away through point for a run. Pope tries to sweep and gets hit on the pad, Lyon sinking to one knee in appeal, but nothing doing. In response Pope charges and drags a ball through the leg side for one. Was looking for something bigger and didn’t make good contact. Would have been hell to pay if he’d holed out three balls before lunch. Luck is with him, and the break arrives.
25th over: England 57-4 (Hameed 24, Pope 16) Green continues without looking very consistent or threatening, and Pope tries to score in about six different ways but can’t get more than a couple of runs from a glance.
24th over: England 55-4 (Hameed 24, Pope 14) Lyon completes his third over, frustrated when Hameed pushes at a ball with an open face, despite having a slip in place, and guides it very fine for four.
23rd over: England 50-4 (Hameed 20, Pope 13) The sun comes out for a couple of minutes, then goes in again, as Cameron Green gets his first over. A big team appeal for a catch down the leg side from his first ball, everyone except the bowler who isn’t interested and just walks back. Hameed tries a couple of shots, to cover and midwicket, but can’t get past the field. No run from the over.
22nd over: England 50-4 (Hameed 20, Pope 13) One run from Lyon with a scrambled single taken by Hameed. Dicey run. Pope tries to clatter a pull shot away but pulls it into Labuschagne at short leg, denying the run by accident. Some luck for Pope that the ball doesn’t bounce up for someone else to catch.
England’s 50 is up. Pop the corks then.
21st over: England 49-4 (Hameed 19, Pope 13) You wouldn’t exactly call this dynamic batting, though they scrape a couple of singles from the Starc over. But it has at least settled for England, as was likely to happen.
20th over: England 47-4 (Hameed 18, Pope 12) Alright, now it’s Nathan Lyon time. He’s on 399 Test wickets, remember, and seemingly has ben for about ten years. He bowls really nicely to Hameed first up, big turn into the right-hander who steps across and jabs the ball down to short leg. Then teasing flight from Lyon that makes Hameed wait before pushing to the off side. No run from the over.
If you see any errors in the scores, hit refresh on your page. We’ve fixed a couple of things as we go.
19th over: England 47-4 (Hameed 18, Pope 12) Another over from Starc, another boundary for Pope. Drives down the ground this time, reaching the long-off fence.
18th over: England 43-4 (Hameed 18, Pope 8) No spin as yet, Hazlewood continues his spell and Hameed keeps leaving him. Australia will get through about 20 overs in the first session at this rate.
17th over: England 43-4 (Hameed 18, Pope 8) Starc replaces Cummins, bowling left-arm around the wicket at the right-handed Hameed. Creates an angle in at the body that looks quite uncomfortable. Hameed is finding ways to turn over strike more readily now though, and after he works a run to square leg, Pope reaches out at some width from Starc and steers it behind point for four.
16th over: England 38-4 (Hameed 17, Pope 4) Young Pope is very happy to leave Hazlewood alone as much as he can. Eventually it makes Hazlewood bowl a bit closer to the stumps, to least draw defensive shots.
“Those of us in Asia have got up rather than stayed up for this moment – though I guess it’s equally depressing whether you’re in Birmingham or Bangkok,” writes in Leo Phillips. “Is there perchance a TMS link to give our misery an audible aspect?”
There is not, today. The BBC haven’t posted one, which they usually do. Might be a rights thing, with various stations owning Australian rights. I don’t know if anyone owns those for other territories.
15th over: England 37-4 (Hameed 16, Pope 4) The current pair show a bit of willingness to take on Cummins. They might as well try to score a few. After a Hameed single, Pope pulls away a half-short ball for three, then Hameed flicks away three more into the empty acres on the leg side.
14th over: England 30-4 (Hameed 12, Pope 1) Hazlewood replaces Starc, as ever getting the ball to cut back into the right-handed Pope. Mid-on, midwicket and fine leg the only three fielders on that side. Pope leaves everything that he can.
13th over: England 30-4 (Hameed 12, Pope 1) Ollie Pope to the crease. Gets going first ball, a single to cover.
That won’t help Josh’s mood. Stokes plays his first confident shot of the innings, slamming an off-drive for four. But three balls later, Cummins gets him with fierce bounce. Not a bouncer, just back of a length, and Stokes tries to defend it off the back foot. But it moves away a touch after angling in at his midriff, takes his edge, and skews wide of third slip. Labuschagne dives across and takes it above the turf. Good catch, great bowling, and Cummins has his first wicket as captain.
“I stayed up for this?” asks Josh Collis. “Seemingly yes. Total England first innings prediction = 68.”
Spare a thought for the UK-bound Tanya Aldred, who is staying up to take the second half of the OBO, and texting me forlorn thoughts in the meantime.
12th over: England 24-3 (Hameed 12, Stokes 1) Starc tries something short, but the line is awry and it clips Hameed’s hip on its way to fine leg for four. He bowls better to get one past the outside edge, then draws Hameed into an off-drive that is stopped.
The drinks break arrives.
Robert McLiam Wilson puts key to screen.
“Old-school, hall-of-fame ouch. The notion of ‘statement’ deliveries, shots or catches is massively overplayed, more journalism than history, but a first nut castling behind the legs is a genuine sphincter-shrinker. It’s starting the gig with your best joke, it’s showing the butler doing it in the pre-credits sequence. It’s neither omen, nor harbinger, it’s a notarised contract. It’s literal genius, because all genius has always shrugged its shoulders and said the same thing – ‘There’s more of this to come’.”
11th over: England 20-3 (Hameed 12, Stokes 1) Happy to hang in there, is Stokes. Plays one shot at Cummins in the over, but again Head at mid-off stops any score. Otherwise, Stokes is content to leave on length and defend on merit.
“England’s brittle top order being fully exposed here. Have to think that it won’t be long now before Harry Brook is handed an England cap – and after all he is now in Australia playing in the Big Bash – which might turn out to be very convenient.”
I think you have to give them more than one innings, Peter Rowntree. Malan in particular has been picked to counter Australia on tracks with bounce and not much sideways movement, rather than when there’s some seam around on morning one.
10th over: England 20-3 (Hameed 12, Stokes 1) Starc returns, swung around to the Stanley Street end after his wicket first ball coming from Vulture Street. Interesting. And nearly another, second ball of the over, as Hameed carves over the slips for four! Sees width, throws his hands at it, and his attempted square drive ends up at deep third. Some serious carry for Starc as he responds with pace.
9th over: England 16-3 (Hameed 8, Stokes 1) Another Cummins over from the Vulture Street end, Hammed glancing a single. Stokes is stepping across his stumps and being beaten on the inside edge, perhaps a bit of a box shot from Cummins bowling around the wicket to the left-hander. It may only have grazed the box – but as Eddie Murphy spoke in truth, it only needs to graze.
Stokes with his wide stance awaits Cummins, digging out a full ball. Then steps into a drive but doesn’t nail it, and Head is able to dive across at mid-off to stop the shot.
8th over: England 15-3 (Hameed 7, Stokes 1) Thus England turn to Ben Stokes and, Bernie Sanders style, once again ask him for a miracle. He at least survives a Hazlewood over, blocking and leaving and nudging a single. Hameed takes a run off his hip to leg slip, which interests the Australians with a short leg in place. It was off the thigh pad, so a leg bye.
7th over: England 13-3 (Hameed 7, Stokes 0) Cummins carries on to Hameed, bowling the first bumper of the innings that the England opener calmly ducks under Hameed has looked quite good so far this morning, though as I type he strides forward and is beaten by Cummins. Strides again, and drives clunkily as the bat twists in his hand, the ball skewing through extra cover for two runs.