Ashes: Fifth Test Day 1: The moments that mattered

Travis Head celebrates a sublime day one century in Hobart (Photo - Cricket Australia)

It was a day for everyone in Hobart, as the first evening’s play at Bellerive Oval delivered it all.

It started with an English masterclass with the ball, as Ollie Robinson and Stuart Broad delivered a bewildering opening spell, claiming three quick Aussie wickets to be well on top.

But the counter-attacking brilliance of Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head took the momentum away from the tourists, despite the former falling in spectacular fashion.

A Head and Cameron Green partnership delivered a memorable evening of test cricket, before some quick wickets and rain brought the first day’s play to an early closure.

Here are the moments that mattered.

Robinson, Broad makes good on toss call as openers, Smith depart early

As the covers came off in Hobart to show the green strip, as the coin landed in favour of England, Joe Root had no problems electing to bowl first as a fully loaded seam attack looked to make the most of the overhead conditions and grass on the pitch.

With the ball doing plenty off the seam early, the new Australian opening pair of David Warner and Usman Khawaja would have had bad memories of the last time they were sent in to bat in a Test match at Hobart – dismissed for just 85 in the first innings and in an innings defeat to South Africa in 2016, found it tough going early.

After adjusting their lengths after bowling too short early, Robinson started finding the seam movement, Warner who couldn’t find any fluency early in his innings, edged behind for a duck which was well held by Zak Crawley at second slip.

Crawley could have had a second chance the next Robinson over when Marnus Labuschagne edged behind off the second ball he faced. The ball was sailing straight into Joe Root’s lap before Crawley dived in front and spilled the chance.

The strikes kept coming for England early when after a couple of nice drives down the ground, Stuart Broad found the outside edge of Khawaja’s bat.

The next over, Robinson found the edge off Steve Smith’s second ball which was held by Zak Crawley in the cordon to leave Australia at 3/12 and reeling early.

Marnus slips up as Broad breaks through just before the dinner break

Just as Australia was powering back into the driver’s seat, came a moment of luck just before the Dinner break which handed the first session to the tourists.

With Marnus Labuschagne in almost cruise control on a tricky wicket, He looked to pre-meditate a shot to a Stuart Broad delivery by stepping outside the line off his stumps and trying to whip it into the off side.

He ended up getting too far outside the line, missed the line of the ball, and slipping over just as the ball smashed into his middle stump.

It was an ugly-looking dismissal for the World’s number one ranked test batter but it was a timely and important blow for England right before the dinner break as it broke an important stand that had taken the game back into Australia’s favour.

The strike from Broad brought Cameron Green to the middle, just six minutes before lunch. A big test for the young all-rounder who has yet to make a big contribution in the first innings.

England lose a soldier early in the middle session

After Mark Wood bowled a steady over upon resumption from the dinner break, Ollie Robinson took up the attack from the Church Street end.

It was not to prove a successful exercise as immediately Robinson looked uncomfortable, when a period of sustained pressure was required to build on the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne just prior to the interval.

An off-driven four from Cameron Green and a whip over mid-wicket from Travis Head contributed to a nine-run haul from the Robinson over; one which featured the bowler’s speed dropping to a pedestrian 112km per hour.

Robinson left the field immediately after the conclusion of the over.  With Mark Wood conceding 50 runs from his first seven overs and Chris Woakes 42 from his first nine, England will be praying that his back stiffness is not a terminal blow to his test match.

Tourists given a huge headache as Travis puts them to the sword

Travis Head capitalised on his attacking start in the game’s second hour to scoot past 50 in only 53 balls.

Head decided on a policy of all-out aggression upon arriving at the wicket with the score at three for 12, taking Marnus Labuschagne along in his slipstream in a withering counter attack that neutralised the threat of the English seamers.

Whilst Labuschagne was lost in the final ten minutes before the dinner break, Head refused to be subdued as he proceeded to punish England every time they erred in length, as they did somewhat more often than captain Joe Root will have required.

Head went to the drinks break with his score on 67 as the Australian recovery continued to four for 152.  He has found a willing ally in Cameron Green, who has traditionally been a slow starter in his innings thus far in his test career, but at the half-way point of day one has scored 32 from 48 deliveries.

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Head leaves as Green continues to flourish

Travis Head completed a majestic hundred late in the second session before succumbing to Chris Woakes the following ball.  Head attempted to work Woakes through mid wicket but was only able to chip the ball to mid on where Ollie Robinson took a comfortable catch.

It was a commanding innings from Head, and one that has turned the entire momentum of day one around after England had seized the early initiative.  12 boundaries rang from Head’s bat as he combined with Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green to swing the day in Australia’s favour.

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Green remains at the wicket at tea time on 57 not out, whilst Alex Carey has just joined the fray.  The wicket of Head has reduced Australia to five for 215, and while a return of one for 130 has made this Australia’s session, the late wicket has kept England in the contest.

We are now in the same match situation as we were two hours ago.  The early skirmishes of the post-tea session will determine the momentum leading into the night time, and it remains to be seen whether one side or the other will be able to capitalise on that advantage.

Green gives it away with a test hundred at his mercy

Cameron Green perished with his score on 74 when it appeared that only misadventure or ill fortune could prevent him from posting his maiden test century.

Sadly he chose misadventure as, having looked less than comfortable as Mark Wood pitched short twice in his eleventh over, Green essayed an aerial pull shot.  Zak Crawley hardly had to move on the mid wicket boundary before taking a routine catch in front of his eyes.

Wood, as is his wont, has given everything he had to England’s cause today, but he has been errant in length and occasionally line.  In his first eleven overs Wood has been taken for eleven boundaries, but he has now chipped in for a vital wicket as Green looked capable of taking the England attack apart.

Mitchell Starc has joined keeper Alex Carey at six for 237, with a late night pending owing to early rain and a dreadfully slow England over rate.

Rain brings a terrific day to an early close

It was scintillating test cricket the whole way through the first day of the Hobart Ashes test. With the ball constantly challenging Australia’s batters, they edged their way along to 6-241.

Alex Carey was cautiously making good of the tricky conditions, reaching 10 not out, while Mitchell Starc didn’t get time to get himself off the mark before Hobart’s weather came into the mix.

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Despite there being nothing on the radar, rain soon forced the umpires to call the covers out. Many thought they would be quickly whipped off, but the wet weather settled in and play was called off early on an engrossing first day’s play of the fifth Ashes test.

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