Australia skipper Michael Clarke, who won the toss and chose to bat, was unbeaten on 48 at stumps, having shared an important 83-run fifth-wicket stand with George Bailey (53) after Australia had lost three quick wickets just before tea, negating a strong start which saw the hosts coast to 155-1.
Australia’s top-order all made starts but were out to poor shots, except Steve Smith who was bowled by recalled spinner Monty Panesar.
England could have been in an even better position but dropped three catches in the last session including Michael Carberry’s sitter at backward point off Brad Haddin just before stumps.
Haddin, who also survived a DRS referral for lbw against Broad and another dropped chance in the next over, was not out on seven at stumps.
Clarke had no hesitation in choosing to bat for the second time in the series and, after losing David Warner (29) to a rash shot against Broad (2-63) early, Australia was dominating on a flat wicket that didn’t offer much assistance to the bowlers.
Chris Rogers (72) and Shane Watson (51) put on 121 for the second wicket before Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann struck five balls apart.
Anderson took a low, return catch to dismiss Watson (51) and break the 121-run second-wicket stand, and Swann had Rogers (72) well caught by wicketkeeper Matt Prior in the next over as Australia slumped to 155-3.
“The wicket is harder to bat on than we originally thought,” Rogers said. “It was OK early, but then towards the back end of Shane and my partnership, a bit of reverse swing was playing tricks. Hopefully the wicket will get tougher as it goes on.”
Panesar, recalled for his first Ashes test since 2009, compounded Australia’s slide when he bowled Smith (6) on the last ball before tea.
But he grassed one of two chances early in the evening session that let Australia off the hook.
Panesar put down a caught-and-bowled chance he should have held when Bailey was on 10, and Australia was 190-4.
Bailey responded by hitting a six back over Panesar’s head in the next over to take Australia’s total past 200.
Clarke, who was averaging 103.6 in nine previous tests at the Adelaide Oval, was on 19 when he chipped a Swann ball to midwicket but Joe Root was unable to take a difficult chance.
Clarke had a nervous moment on 23 when Swann deflected a drive from Bailey onto the stumps at the bowler’s end and appealed for a run out, but the TV umpire ruled that the Australian captain had grounded his bat just in time.
Bailey, who averages 55 in 35 ODIs, was shaky early but posted his maiden test half century in just his second test with a pulled six off Broad.
He also hit Panesar for two straight sixes - one at each end - in racing to 52 from 79 balls but he was tempted to hook at a Broad short ball and Swann took a good catch at square leg to end the partnership.
While Australia kept an unchanged lineup after a big win in the series-opener, England were forced into three changes to accommodate the loss of Jonathan Trott, who left the tour with a stress-related illness.
Root will move up the batting order to fill his spot at No. 3, while New Zealand-born Ben Stokes earned his first cap and Panesar was recalled to work in a spin tandem with Swann on a pitch that will keep low for the duration.
Stokes had 0-26 and was the only English bowler not to pick up a wicket on the first day.
Despite failing to make the most of the conditions on Thursday, Australia were still in a better position than they were in the previous Ashes Test at the ground in 2010 when they won the toss and were all out for 245 on the opening day. England won that Test by an innings and went on to claim the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years.
Swann acknowledged England were disappointed to have dropped three catches but refused to apportion blame after the tourists had to settle for limiting Australia to 273 for five.
Swann said on Sky Sports 2: “We’re fairly pleased. Five five down for 270... it would have been ideal if we’d got six or seven. We missed a couple of chances that on another day we’d expect to take. But we stuck to our guns fairly well.
“We’re disappointed, but not angry. That’s cricket. You do drop catches.
“We’ve fielded exceptionally well on this trip so far, taken some belters.
“It’s just a shame that today was the day that a couple went down but we’ve got a great spirit in the camp and nobody’s going to be hard on anyone else.
“We know how hard we all work on our fielding, and we’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully take those half-chances.”
Swann was encouraged by what he saw from the wicket on day one.
“There’s no pace in the deck whatsoever,” he said. “There’s a little bit of turn. It’s drier than we’d normally expect in Adelaide. It was slow and very easy to bat on if they were willing to play straight.
“We’ve got to try to come back tomorrow and get the ball talking early on. It got a bit of reverse swing today, which was encouraging.
“If we can do that again tomorrow, and then a bit of spin from me and Monty, and hopefully go through them cheaply.”
He added: “If we can keep them below 350, we’ll be happy. You never know what par is until both teams have batted. We thought 500 was par (in the first Test defeat) last week and we only got 120!”
Australia v England
Adelaide Australia Won Toss
Australia First Innings Close
C J L Rogers c Prior b Swann 72
D A Warner c Carberry b Broad 29
S R Watson c & b Anderson 51
M J Clarke not out 48
S P D Smith b Panesar 6
G J Bailey c Swann b Broad 53
B J Haddin not out 7
Extras b5 nb2 pens 0 7
Total 5 wkts (91 overs) 273
Fall: 1-34 2-155 3-155 4-174 5-257
To Bat: M G Johnson, R J Harris, P M Siddle, N M Lyon.
Bowling: Anderson 21 9 56 1
Broad 19 3 63 2
Swann 19 2 55 1
Panesar 24 4 68 1
Stokes 8 2 26 0