1st Test, Day One, Cardiff.
Joe Root was England’s saviour once again as England ended day one of the first Ashes test in a decent position against rivals Australia.
Before Root’s galvanising performance at the crease, the crowd in Cardiff were watching on in fear as the Australian seamers attacked the stumps with relative success, reminiscent of scenes down under 18 months ago.
Adam Lyth’s Ashes debut ended predominantly when he went for just seven runs early on. Captain Alistair Cook went next for just 20 before Ian Bell came and went with just one run to his name.
With the score 43-3, England were in need of a hero, and he came in the form of the ever reliant Root. But it almost wasn’t to be.
When Root slightly edged the ball on zero, England fans’ hearts jumped to their mouths as the world suddenly went slow motion. Seemingly, any England fan praying for his survival had their wish granted as Aussie wicket keeper Brad Haddin dropped the simplest of catches. England fans and players alike blew air from their cheeks. The Australians thought to themselves what could have been.
After the scare, Root was composed, and hit the right shots towards the boundaries left, right and centre. Before long, Gary Ballance and himself contributed 153 runs between them to steady the ship.
Root made it to a half century in just 56 balls and then quickly made it to three figures with a trademark cover drive. His century in 118 deliveries was the fastest ever recorded in the first test match of any Ashes series.
The Yorkshire batsman made it to 137 before he was caught behind, but by then his job was done.
It was another magnificent innings for Root, who is the highest test run scorer in the world in 2015. He has scored 675 runs in 10 innings, with two hundreds and four half century’s altogether.
“I’m really pleased with the way things have gone. I rode my luck at times, especially early on,” said Root.
“It’s a little bit slow. Seeing the first few not carry was a bit of a worry. There’s a little bit there – there are a few little indentations, which could be helpful when we bowl.
“I’m happy to be in the position we are in as a team. Hopefully we can kick on in the morning. The longer we can keep them out there, the better it is for us.
“The guys out there currently are both very capable of scoring big scores – hopefully tomorrow is one of those days where they take it to them and we score 400-plus.”
By the end of the day England, guided by Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler before his late dismissal, surpassed 300 runs and ended on 343-7.
The Australians will still feel that they can turn the tide of the first test should they take wickets early in tomorrow morning. One highlight of their day was the 3-70 bowling figures from Ashes debutant Josh Hazlewood.
Hazlewood dismissed opener Lyth for the first wicket of this summer’s Ashes. He also crucially caught Gary Ballance LBW and got the wicket Jos Buttler late on.
“The game is fairly level at this stage. Hopefully we can clean them up in the morning,” said Hazlewood.
“We were good in patches. We kept it tight for periods but we leaked a few runs. When Root was batting he played fantastically and we need to find a plan for him.
“The wicket is quite slow and nullifies the short stuff but we tried to keep it full and swinging. The Duke ball is good fun – if you get it in the right areas there is always something there. If they get 40 or 50 more I think that’s about par for them.”