NOTTINGHAM, England, July 10 (Reuters) – England roared back in the final session following a feeble batting display as wickets tumbled on a dramatic opening day of the first Ashes test against Australia at Trent Bridge yesterday.
Australia, huge underdogs in the series, enjoyed the perfect start when fiery fast bowler Peter Siddle took five wickets and England collapsed to 215 all out shortly after tea.
However, Steven Finn removed Shane Watson and Ed Cowan in successive balls and James Anderson dismissed Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers before Australia lurched to the close on 75 for four.
Steve Smith, on 38, and Phil Hughes, seven, were the not out batsmen.
England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and chose to bat in overcast conditions.
James Pattinson’s first ball of the series was a wild short-pitched wide and the fast bowler struggled to find his line as the ball swung extravagantly in the air.
Cook and Joe Root had to survive the odd unplayable delivery, but they looked comfortable until the skipper, on 13, drove loosely at a wide ball from Pattinson and nicked a catch through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
The Australians joyously celebrated the wicket of Cook, who scored 766 runs in the last Ashes series, but the situation was tailor-made for the phlegmatic Jonathan Trott.
He greeted Siddle to the attack with successive fours and also dispatched debutant spinner Ashton Agar’s first ball in test cricket to the extra cover boundary.
Root, opening for the first time in tests, struck six neat fours in a patient 30 but he was deceived by the first ball of Siddle’s second spell, a rapid full-length yorker which crashed into his stumps to end a second-wicket partnership of 51.
England took lunch on 98 for two but Kevin Pietersen, returning to the side after injury, nibbled at a Siddle outswinger in the first over of the second session and was caught by Clarke at second slip for 14.
Trott struck eight sweetly-timed fours and was two runs short of his fifty when he carelessly dragged a wide Siddle delivery on to his stumps to leave England in trouble at 124 for four.
Jonny Bairstow and Ian Bell shared a fluent 54-run partnership for the fifth wicket before Bell, on 25, limply hung his bat at a Siddle outswinger and edged a catch to Watson at first slip.
Matt Prior swatted a wide ball from Siddle straight to Hughes at point to give the bowler his eighth five-wicket haul in tests and send the few pockets of Australian fans in the crowd into raptures.
England were tottering on 185 for six at tea and Stuart Broad lifted them past 200 with five meaty fours in his innings of 24.
The fast bowler skied a catch back to Pattinson, Bairstow was bowled for 37 by a swinging full-length delivery from Mitchell Starc and Finn was caught by Haddin off Starc for a golden duck.
Swann prodded Pattinson meekly to Hughes at cover and England had lost their last four wickets for two runs in the space of 14 balls.
Watson started Australia’s reply aggressively with three boundaries but he fell for 13 attempting a fourth, smartly pouched by Root at third slip off Finn.
The tall fast bowler’s next delivery was also wide and full, tempting Cowan into an injudicious drive that sent the ball flying low to Swann at second slip.
Clarke strode out at 19 for two and he lasted only six balls before Anderson produced a peach of a delivery which held its line and clipped the top of off stump.
The England crowd suddenly came alive and Trent Bridge was abuzz as Smith and Chris Rogers set about repairing the damage.
Smith took the attack to the bowlers and the experienced Rogers, playing his first test for five years, supported him sensibly until he was trapped lbw by Anderson for 16.
England pushed hard for another breakthrough but with Broad off the field receiving treatment on a shoulder injury they could not find it and Smith and Hughes will resume on Thursday with Australia 140 runs adrift.
England first innings
A.Cook c Haddin b Pattinson 13
J.Root b Siddle 30
J.Trott b Siddle 48
K.Pietersen c Clarke
b Siddle 14
I.Bell c Watson b Siddle 25
J.Bairstow b Starc 37
M.Prior c Hughes b Siddle 1
S.Broad c & b Pattinson 24
G.Swann c Hughes b Pattinson 1
S.Finn c Haddin b Starc 0
J.Anderson not out 1
Extras: (b-6 lb-5 w-8 nb-2) 21
Total: (all out, 59 overs) 215
Fall of wickets: 1-27 2-78 3-102 4-124 5-178 6-180 7-213 8-213 9-213 10-215.
Bowling: Pattinson 17-2-69-3 (1nb 2w), Starc 17-5-54-2, Siddle 14-4-50-5 (1nb 1nb), Agar 7-1-24-0, Watson 4-2-7-0.
Australia first innings
S.Watson c Root b Finn 13
C.Rogers lbw b Anderson 16
E.Cowan c Swann b Finn 0
M.Clarke b Anderson 0
S.Smith not out 38
P.Hughes not out 7
Extras: (lb-1) 1
Total: (for four wickets, 21 overs) 75
To bat: B.Haddin, P.Siddle, J.Pattinson, M.Starc, A.Agar.
Fall of wickets: 1-19 2-19 3-22 4-53.
Bowling: Anderson 10-0-25-2, Finn 8-0-37-2, Swann 3-0-12-0.
England won the toss and chose to bat