First Ashes Test: Australia 153/6 at Tea break
BRISBANE: England paceman Stuart Broad took three wickets in a brilliant spell around lunch to precipitate an Australia collapse that left the hosts floundering at 153 for six at tea on the opening day of the first Ashes test on Thursday.
Australia would have been reasonably satisfied at 71-1 three balls before lunch but by the end of the second session Brad Haddin (24) and Mitchell Johnson (12) were fighting a desperate rearguard action.
Broad, cast as the pantomime villain in Australia after his failure to walk at Trent Bridge earlier this year, took four for 49 in total to silence the boos and catcalls that had greeted him at the Gabba.
Opener Chris Rogers was the first victim of the bounce Broad managed to generate from the Gabba track but it was the triple dismissals of Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and David Warner around lunch that shifted the momentum firmly England’s way.
James Anderson pitched in to remove debutant George Bailey for three runs before Chris Tremlett, the third England quick, curtailed a promising innings from Steve Smith for 31.
Australia won the toss and decided to bat on a bright, sunny morning at the Gabba.
Broad’s first ball was not quite the disaster that England’s Steve Harmison experienced in 2006 but a no ball that David Warner brutally pulled for four was certainly not the start he had envisioned.
The first ball of his second over, though, came up high off the Brisbane track and when Rogers tried to ride the bounce, it flew off the splice of his bat to Ian Bell at gully.
Watson, whose preparations for the series were disrupted by a hamstring injury, looked like reaching lunch with his wicket intact until Broad again found some bounce in the last over before lunch.
The all-rounder pushed at a ball he could have left and edged it to Graeme Swann at second slip, swatting his bat in frustration at the manner and timing of his dismissal.
Australia captain Clarke faced just seven balls after lunch before he was making his way back to the dressing room with one run to his name after he popped the ball to Bell at short leg.
Opener Warner had looked considered and dangerous in equal measures to build an innings of 49 with some choice shots but he threw it all away when he swatted a Broad delivery straight to Kevin Pietersen in the covers.
England’s Matt Prior kept wickets through both sessions without any obvious discomfort after passing a fitness test on a calf strain.
England, who won the first series of this year’s double header 3-0, are chasing a fourth successive Ashes triumph and a first victory at the Gabba since 1986.