A CLASSIC display of seam-and-swing bowling by James Anderson helped England bowl Australia out inside two sessions at Edgbaston to restate their 2015 Ashes credentials.
Anderson’s six for 47 included a spell of four wickets for seven runs as the tourists were dismissed for 136 in 36.4 overs – two deliveries fewer than they needed to bowl England out for 103 en route to their series-levelling 405-run win at Lord’s 11 days ago.
Anderson took expert advantage of favourable conditions on day one of this third Investec Test – and two wickets each by Stuart Broad and Steven Finn completed the job, before Ian Bell (53) kept England in control on 133 for three when play was halted early for the day due to rain.
Australia won the toss and Michael Clarke had no doubt about putting his side in to bat, but it all went wrong, with only opener Chris Rogers, who made 52, emerging with credit.
Anderson admitted poor shots were a big factor in Australia’s first-day misery.
The pace bowler said: “It was great to get them out for such a low score, then I thought the guys batted really positively and really well. We thought it looked a good pitch and we were going to bat on it if we won the toss.
“We weren’t expecting it to do as much as it did. We saw Chris Rogers get in on it and he played well and was watchful and put away the bad ball. Throughout the day there was probably a high percentage of poor shots rather than good balls that got wickets.”
Rain breaks kept coming at the perfect time to allow Alastair Cook to give Anderson a breather, and the pace linchpin did the rest on a pitch offering lateral movement under cloud cover.
Finn, back from a two-year Test absence, struck twice in his first three overs – and then Anderson took over with a wonderful display of his talents to eliminate Australia’s middle order. Rogers was rarely convincing but kept his nerve in a battling 82-ball 50 as he again proved his value to the team after being cleared to play here despite his dizzy spell at Lord’s.
Anderson took none for 137 there, but was back on song when England needed him. Finn’s success was gratifying too – in his 24th Test but first since the start of the 2013 Ashes and after a raft of technical issues with his run-up culminated in his early departure from the limited-overs leg of England’s tour down under the following winter. He was deemed “unselectable” back then – but for Steve Smith, Finn’s sixth delivery on his return proved unplayable and was fenced low to slip.
That was 18 for two, after Anderson had struck first with the wicket of David Warner, and brought Clarke to the crease much earlier than he must have hoped. He did not stay long either, bowled off-stump by a full-length outswinger from Finn.
Warner had gone, with just seven on the board, to seam movement from Anderson which trapped him lbw.
Australia were thankful his fellow opener was in typically determined mood, however, adding 43 with Adam Voges.
When rain cleared after lunch, Anderson wasted no time. Voges was kicking himself for trying to leave too late as he edged behind. Mitch Marsh’s attempt to counter-attack came to nought when he too edged Anderson to Jos Buttler, aiming an off-drive, and then Peter Nevill misread the swing and was bowled shouldering arms.
Anderson soon had five for the second time at this venue in his Ashes career, Mitchell Johnson trying to drive too but getting a thick edge to gully.
Broad was as yet wicketless but shifted Rogers at last, lbw from round the wicket, before doubling up with Mitchell Starc caught-behind – another trying to leave the ball. Anderson concluded the innings when Nathan Lyon played on to give him his Ashes-best figures.
England soon lost Adam Lyth, edging a drive to slip – and after a second-wicket stand of 57, Cook fell to a freak catch at short-leg where Voges somehow held on to a fierce pull at Lyon.
Bell played beautifully and hit ten boundaries in a near run-a-ball 50, before his intent to dominate Lyon took him up the pitch where he skewed a skier to midwicket. It was a significant frustration, in front of his home crowd after such a lean spell of scores, but England still had much to smile about.
Rogers, on the other hand, said Australia’s day was “very disappointing”.
He said: “We won the toss, we had first crack at it, but England bowled well and put us under pressure and we didn’t respond and we’ve got to get better at that really. You’ve got to give their attack credit, they bowled very well, but there’s times when you’ve got to fight, you have to get through somehow, and you look at some of the dismissals and think maybe we shouldn’t have got out that way.”