Ashes 2013: England hold the edge over Australia, says Steven Finn

England ended a dramatic first day of the Ashes series insisting that honours are at least even but with a major injury concern over Stuart Broad.

The all-rounder was unable to bowl when Australia launched their reply to England's first-innings total of 215 after being hit on the right shoulder by a short ball from James Pattinson – the same shoulder in which he needed a cortisone injection after the Champions Trophy final last month.

England coped admirably in his absence as Steve Finn relished a rare opportunity with the new ball to dismiss Shane Watson and Ed Cowan with consecutive deliveries, and Jimmy Anderson also claimed two as Australia struggled to 75 for four – including their captain Michael Clarke bowled for a duck by a rapid leg-cutter which clipped his off-stump and took Anderson past Fred Trueman's haul of 307 victims to become England's third most successful Test bowler. But there is now a danger that they may have to play the rest of the match with only three specialist bowlers, although Finn remains hopeful that Broad will be able to return.

The official line was that he stayed in the dressing room with the shoulder being iced to boost his chances of playing in the remaining four days of the match. But Broad himself described his condition as "a bit ropey" when collared by a Sky reporter as he left the ground. "I think it's a bit sore but the extent of the damage I don't know," said Finn. "We're very hopeful he'll be fit [for Thursday]."

Asked how serious a blow it would be to England's chances were Broad to be ruled out, Finn said: "I'd have to bowl a few more overs I think. We have got a few guys who can bowl — Swanny can be handy, especially in these sorts of conditions. But at the moment we don't know the extent of Broady's damage."

Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann, expressed his sympathy for Broad, although with a steely confirmation that the barrage of short deliveries from Pattinson at England's lower order, which also led to the dismissals of Broad and Graeme Swann, were a sign of things to come.

"We don't like anyone getting hurt full stop," he said. "But we're going to be quite aggressive with their tail, as we saw today, and that's not going to change for the whole series."

Lehmann was satisfied that Australia had made a point with their first-day showing, especially after losing the toss – although he warned that there is much more to come from Pattinson and Mitchell Starc, their young new-ball pair.

"We probably should have bowled them out cheaper to be fair," he added. "The first day of an Ashes series, it's pretty big isn't it, and the younger guys got a bit excited with the new ball." Instead it was the old warhorse Peter Siddle who led the Australia attack with five wickets. "We needed that experienced head, didn't we?" Lehmann conceded. "Peter stood up and did really well."

Lehmann said Nathan Lyon and David Warner, who were two notable omissions from an Australia team in which the 19-year-old left-arm spinner Ashton Agar was given a shock Test debut, had both taken the news well.

He stressed that Lyon, an unspectacular off-spinner from Adelaide, "is still going to play a part in this Ashes series", but offered no such guarantees to Warner, who has been sent to play in Zimbabwe and South Africa with Australia's A team – not as fresh punishment for swinging a punch at Joe Root in the Birmingham Walkabout last month, Lehmann insisted, but to allow him to stake a claim to be recalled for the third Test at Old Trafford in August.

"He has to make some runs, as simple as that," said Australia's coach. "Then get back on tour and see how we go from there. He was obviously disappointed at not playing but he's been very good, outstanding."

Warner spent much of the day in the field, deputising for Cowan, who was suffering from a stomach bug – or "a bit crook", as Lehmann put it more technically – and apparently relishing the mixed reception he received from the crowd. But Watson, his erstwhile opening partner, could yet be a greater concern for the tourists.

He was withdrawn from the attack after a four-over spell and Lehmann confirmed he was suffering from "a niggle in his lower leg", although it did not seem to impede him at the batting crease.

Predictably Finn and Lehmann disagreed slightly about the balance of power after day one. "Maybe we might have our noses ahead," said Finn. "Obviously we'd like to have got a few more runs after winning the toss. It's a very tight battle."

"Pretty even stevens, isn't it?" Lehmann responded. "Tomorrow's going to be a pretty big day." Even on the evidence of the fewer than 80 overs that were bowled on an opening day marred only by a desultory over rate, it seems highly unlikely to be dull.

Powered by article was written by Andy Wilson at Trent Bridge, for The Guardian on Wednesday 10th July 2013 20.47 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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