A brilliant century by Joe Root carried England to a strong position at the end of the first day of the opening Ashes Test at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens. Coming in when the hosts were reeling at 3/43, Root was dropped second ball before peeling off his seventh Test ton as England reached 7/343 by stumps.
Australia started in ominous fashion as Josh Hazlewood removed opener Adam Lyth (6) in just the second over, Nathan Lyon bamboozled Alistair Cook (20) and Mitchell Starc had Ian Bell (1) trapped lbw fifth ball.
But when Brad Haddin put down a gilt-edged chance off Starc when Root was on nought, England capitalised.
Root and Gary Ballance (61) put on 153 for the fourth wicket, while Root brought up his 118-ball century during an 84-run stand with in-form Ben Stokes (52) before finally being dismissed by Starc.
Stokes hit a pair of sixes and brought up his half-century before becoming Starc’s third victim; the Aussie paceman couldn’t resist giving the combative all-rounder a send-off.
— ICC (@ICC) July 8, 2015
Jos Buttler (27) and Moeen Ali (26 not out) produced a quick-fire 50-run partnership late in the day, but Buttler was dismissed by Hazlewood with just 13 balls remaining before the close of play.
Hazlewood (3/70 off 22) and Starc (3/84 off 19) were the clear standouts in Australia’s attack, while Mitchell Johnson toiled for no reward, finishing with 0/87 from 20 overs.
Stud of the day
After his let-off, Root was all class. He blasted 17 fours in bringing up the sixth-fastest century by an Englishman in an Ashes Test. Root shapes as a pillar England can build their campaign around. It was just his second 50-plus score in his last 10 innings against Australia.
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) July 8, 2015
Undoubtedly Haddin’s drop from a tricky diving chance – but a very gettable one – to let Root off the hook early. The opportunity to really sink the boot in was lost and it may transpire to be a turning point in the entire series, let alone the Test.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) July 8, 2015
Australia needs to mop up the tail quickly on Day 2, which means breaking up the Moeen Ali-Stuart Broad partnership in the opening overs. If England can claw past 400 it will be a tough psychological barrier to overcome for Australia, and the likes of Broad and Jimmy Anderson will relish the opportunity to charge in at the field-weary tourists. A riveting Test looks set to unfold in Wales.
- The partnership between Root and Ballance was higher than any England produced during the disastrous 2013/14 Ashes campaign Down Under.
- Root’s average of 79.60 batting at No.5 is the best in Test history of players with a minimum of 1000 runs in the position; Steve Smith (66.55), AB de Villiers (63.82) and Michael Clarke (61.83) are next on the list.
- Root has scored more Test runs than any player in world cricket since June 2014 with 1452, ahead of Younis Khan (1415), Kane Williamson (1235) and Steve Smith (1226).