Years of dreams, months of planning and weeks of practice. And what happened? Rory Burns is out on the first ball.
Not just the first ball of the match but the first ball of the Ashes series. And it sets a serious tone for the rest of the day.
England stumbled before the Gabba stormed the field and were bowled out for just 147 and prevented Australia from starting their reply.
The batsmen were exposed to the relentless strength and penetration of Australia’s fast bowlers on the difficult pitch.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong for Joe Root and his team went wrong. All those hopes of being competitive in this series would have been wiped out in a single day.
Root was dismissed for naught, while his Australian counterpart Pat Cummins took five wickets on his first day in charge. Talk about the story of two captains.
England’s decision to drop both Stuart Broad and James Anderson for the first time in five years sparked widespread apprehension.
And then Root’s choice to bat first proved to be a mistake as the green surface allowed the ball to nibble around and, in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Cummins, Australia had the perfect trio to take advantage of.
JOIN SUN VEGAS: GET FREE £10 BONUS WITH 100 GAME TO PLAY & NO DEPOSIT REQUIRED (Ts&Cs applicable)
Starc sent down the opening ball of the series and left-hander Burns, going too far across his stump, missed what was effectively a leg-stump half-volley.
He was bowled for the sixth duck in Test cricket in 2021 – breaking England’s record for the opening batsman of five sets by Mike Atherton in 1998.
As foreshadowed, it couldn’t have been worse.
England looked exactly as they are – a fragile batting unit and less prepared due to the Covid restrictions and all the recent rain in Brisbane.
Burns’ golden duck joined the likes of Steve Harmison’s wide which went straight to Andrew Flintoff at second slip in 2006, a disastrous first ball for England in the Ashes series.
For the first time since 1936–37 a wicket was dropped on the first ball of the Ashes series, when an Englishman named Stan Worthington was sent off.
3 David Malan was undecided between playing or releasing Hazlewood’s delivery and only managed to hand a catch to debutant wicketkeeper Alex Carey.
When Root dismissed David Warner to Hazlewood at first slip, England were 11-3 and beyond their nightmares.
Ben Stokes, playing his first Test since March, was caught by Cummins for round the wicket and caught by the shoulder of the bat by Marnus Labuschagne at third slip.
England wore a black band in honor of former England player Eileen Ashe, who died earlier this month at the unbelievable age of 110.
Stokes had on his armband the number 568, which was his dad’s grandfather’s number while playing rugby league for New Zealand in 1982. Gade had died exactly a year earlier.
Opener Haseeb Hameed survived the morning session with some calm but got Steve Smith out at second slip in the first over after lunch.
Ollie Pope and, notably, Jos Buttler counter-attacked with a half-century partnership for the sixth wicket, until Buttler bowled a delivery from Starc and then Pope struck a hook and took Cameron Greene for his first Test wicket. Gave.
Cummins ran through England’s tail as Ollie Robinson swiped unconcernedly, Mark Wood took a catch at short leg and Chris Woakes was caught in a carbon copy of Pope’s dismissal at fine leg by a diving Hazlewood.
Australians are already starting to whine about helpless Poms. Even Queensland Police tweeted that they are “opening an investigation into a group impersonating the Test batting order at the Gabba.”
Australian humor, eh?