After a short break upon the conclusion of the third Ashes Test betweenEngland and Australia, both teams were back in white flannels for the fourth game of the series at Chester-le-Street, Durham. The county was hosting an Ashes match for the first time, and speculation was rife that hometown favourite Graham Onions would be playing – until Alastair Cook put those rumours to rest. For Australia, Jackson Bird made his Test debut, replacing Mitchell Starc.
Day 1 completely belonged to the Aussies as they grabbed nine English wickets while conceding 238 runs. While the bowling looked extremely penetrative, most English players were guilty of injudicious shot selection.
Here are the heroes for the day:
Nathan Lyon (4/42 in 20 overs; 1 catch)
The off-spinner extracted good turn from the surface as he troubled the English batsmen with his bag of tricks and an immaculate line. He removed the settled Jonathan Trott after a well-made 49, caught by Usman Khawaja on the leg side. Next, he removed the dangerous Kevin Pietersen with a flatter delivery around off, inducing an edge to Haddin behind the stumps.
Lyon then dismissed the in-form Ian Bell, who played a needless aggressive stroke; he then sent back Jonny Bairstow before taking a smart catch to remove Graeme Swann. All in all, Day 1 belonged to the 26-year-old as he snapped up four key English batsmen.
Alastair Cook (51 runs off 164 balls – 5 fours)
The England captain has had a rather poor series – by his standards – with the bat so far. He produced yet another dogged, determined knock today, sharing two fruitful partnerships – 73 for the second wicket with Trott and 42 with Pietersen. Two boundaries off debutant Jackson Bird – a lovely pull to mid-wicket and an exquisite cover drive – were easily the highlights of his innings. He was finally dismissed by Bird’s in-swinging delivery that rapped him in front of the off-stump.
A fine knock, but England would have wanted him to stay in for longer.
Jonathan Trott (49 runs off 60 balls – 7 fours)
Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott is guilty of not converting his starts into bigger scores in this edition of the Ashes. Coming in at the fall of Joe Root, Trott raised 73 runs for the second wicket with captain Cook, playing his shots on both sides of the wicket. He was looking good for another Ashes fifty when Lyon deceived him into playing an inside edge that popped up in the air and was taken by a diving Khawaja.
England need an in-form No. 3 batsman. Maybe pushing Ian Bell up the order might do the trick?
With Australia clearly on top at the end of the day’s play, it will be interesting to see if England can manage to get to 250 in the morning session. James Anderson has been looking good, batting on an unbeaten 16 (all runs scored in boundaries) off just 10 balls, with Yorkshire man Tim Bresnan for company. Lyon will look to take his first five-wicket haul in this edition of the Ashes as his side pursues a 2-2 scoreline.
Over to Day 2, then!