Australia’s start to the Ashes series got off to a disastrous start in Brisbane, with another withering batting collapse.
Another series, another withering batting collapse for Australia.
Day one of the first Test at the Gabba proved nothing much has changed.
Following an all-too familiar script, it was left to the lower order to save Australia’s batsmen from utter embarrassment as the home side stumbled to 8-273 in the Ashes opener.
Brad Haddin (78 not out) and Mitchell Johnson (64) mounted a salvage mission with a 114-run seventh wicket stand after Australia at one stage lost 5-61.
But the rearguard action couldn’t mask the damage done.
Led by their most maligned man, Stuart Broad (5-65), England cast aside a disrupted preparation to look every bit a side destined for a fourth consecutive Ashes triumph.
The capitulation was eerily similar to collapses at Trent Bridge, Lord’s and Chester-le-Street earlier this year, but coach Darren Lehmann has pledged to pick and stick with his batting order this series.
Of Broad’s five victims, none was more significant than Michael Clarke, who popped up a short ball for one just two overs after lunch.
The England fast bowler has now had Clarke’s number for six of his past eight innings.
“I saw the reaction from the players, how much it meant to the guys,” Broad said.
“I wouldn’t say I have got a hold over him, his record’s obviously phenomenal how important a player he is for them.
“The key was getting him in early enough with a hard enough ball to execute plans like that.”
Clarke had no hesitation in winning the toss and electing to bat on a belting Gabba pitch, but optimism soon turned to disaster.
It wasn’t hard to see why Australia haven’t won in nine Tests and England haven’t lost in 13.
David Warner (49 from 82) showed intent from the first ball he faced from Broad, taking the fight to England early.
But, after the early loss of Chris Rogers (1), the real turning point came on the stroke of lunch, when England’s villainous fast bowler fought back from a jeering crowd and Warner’s boundaries to dismiss Shane Watson and kick-start a devastating fightback.
Australia quickly slumped from 1-71 to 6-132.
Broad struck again when Warner spooned a catch to Kevin Pietersen; debutant George Bailey then lasting just 15 balls before edging James Anderson (2-61) behind for 3.
Steven Smith’s (31) dismissal off the bowling of Chris Tremlett completed the middle order route.
Johnson then came in and did what most of the batsmen couldn’t, mixing patience with aggression in an innings that featured six fours and two towering sixes, more than justifying his return to Ashes cricket.
Haddin also showed his willingness to fight, combining with Johnson to save Australia from an unmitigated disaster.
“We fought back very hard,” said Johnson.
“(The collapse) isn’t frustrating. It’s an opportunity for us to score some runs. We don’t want to be in that situation too often but it’s good we can get ourselves out of those situations by putting on big partnerships.
“We want to get 300-plus and we think that’s definitely a good score to have. It can play on opposition’s minds if you get over that 300 mark.”