A mass of expectation and a wealth of betting support for an England series win preceded the start of the 2013 Ashes series, but overall it was more or less honours even between the two sides at the close on the opening day of the first test at Trent Bridge.
The hosts amassed a rather underwhelming 215 lasting out just minutes after tea but managed to claw things back in the early evening thanks to an inspired seaming display that left Australia teetering on 75/4.
England skipper Alistair Cook won the toss and unsurprisingly elected to bat first with overcast conditions forecast for the majority of the day.
But his day one contribution ended swiftly going for just 13 before Joe Root fell to a Peter Siddle yorker for 30 after a decent stand with Jonathan Trott that sent England into lunch on terms at 98/2.
The afternoon session was all Australia’s however with particular emphasis on Siddle who claimed a further four wickets that decimated the England middle order.
Kevin Pietersen (14), Ian Bell (25) and Matt Prior (1) all fell to the experienced seamer after failing to really make an impact however Trott did make his presence felt for some time with a respectable 48.
James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc shared the remaining five wickets to account for the rest of the England line-up which will have been extremely disappointed to post such a meagre total on the first day of the series when bold statements and markers are most vital.
Nevertheless, England’s riposte was admirable in the final session play where it could have been so easy for the hosts to deflate.
Australia set about laying into England’s score positively but were caught in their tracks in the fourth over of the innings when Shane Watson was caught at third slip for 13 by Joe Root from a smart Steve Finn delivery.
And matters were made worse for the tourists when Ed Cowan and captain Michael Clarke both went for ducks in quick succession, the former caught by Graeme Swann to give Steve Finn his second victim whilst Clarke was caught clean out by Jimmy Anderson.
Steven Smith, added to the Australian squad at a late stage, began his justification of selection with a battling 38 not out to steady the visitors up to some extent, but Chris Rogers lost his wicket before stumps leaving his side with a lot to do on day two.
Providing Australia can fight throughout the morning session, the first test should still be anyone’s game going into the second innings where inevitably, one side will have to raise their level from a batting perspective to really grab the initiative.
England will fancy their chances of edging it based on the fact that the Aussies are likely to be left chasing on day five.