Ashes rookies Mark Stoneman and James Vince silenced their critics on day one of the first Test at the Gabba as England made a promising start to the tour of Australia.
Surrey opener Stoneman and Hampshire’s Vince both scored their debut Ashes fifties as Trevor Bayliss’ England side reached tea on 125-1 after electing to bat first.
England captain Joe Root on electing to bat
‘The pitch is maybe slightly softer than anticipated but I’m sure it will harden up as the day and the game goes on.
‘You can’t play on what’s happened in the past at the Gabba, you’ve got to play what’s in front of you so we’ll bat first and hope to bat big.
‘We’ve prepared really well – in the warm-ups we’ve gathered motivation nicely and everyone has contributed along the way.
‘Captaining England in Australia is something you always dream of as a kid and I’m really looking forward to this series.’
Aussie skipper Steve Smith
‘I would’ve had a bat as well but there’s a bit of cloud, it’s going to be tough batting and hopefully we can get the ball moving around.
‘We’re all excited, it’s been a pretty big build-up so we’re ready to get out here and play. It’ll be hard for the batters, it’s bit slow, so we’ll hope to get our lengths right and get some few wickets.’
It took just ten balls for Mitchell Starc to make his mark on the 2017-18 Ashes series. After opener Alastair Cook had left half a dozen delivers and blocked the rest, he was then sent back to the dressing room after edging behind.
‘It’s the footwork, he doesn’t get out of the crease. It happens early on,’ legendary batsman Geoffrey Boycott said at lunch when analysing Cook’s dismissal for BT Sport. ‘He got caught on the crease and pushed at it. It’s about fractions – that’s the game.’
The rest of the morning belonged to the tourists. The Aussies would have been hoping to run through England’s inexperienced top order after seeing the back of Cook but Stoneman and Vince showed their ability with an impressive stand that showed no signs of breaking before lunch.
Vince, playing in his seventh Test match, drove and clipped his way to 32* while Stoneman, nicknamed ‘Rocky’ by his England peers, was providing solid support.
The Aussie attack toiled away but on a flat and slow pitch were unable to create any chances of note after Starc dismissed Cook cheaply.
Geoffrey Boycott on England's first session
‘That was everything England wanted. They have blunted the home crowd, got themselves into the game and they’ll take this.
‘They need more of the same this afternoon – I don’t think it will be a day full of runs. It’s a grafting day but, so far, Mark Stoneman and James Vince are complementing each other.’
Despite a brief shower appearing to slightly quicken the dead Brisbane pitch, Stoneman and Vince maintained their serene progress for much of the afternoon session.
Nathan Lyon, who said Australia were out to ‘end careers’ prior to the series, was beginning to become more of a threat, however, and found Vince’s edge when he was on 68.
Luckily for Vince and England, Tim Paine failed to clinch on but Australia found the much-needed breakthrough just three overs later.
On 53, Stoneman, who barely gave a chance from his extended stay at the crease, was clean bowled by Pat Cummins, giving Joe Root four balls to survive before the tea break.