THE first ever Ashes Test in the North East provided attritional fare in the first session at the Emirates ICG this morning.
England reached 57-1 at lunch – after the momentous first ball of the fourth Investec Test was a no-ball bowled by Australia’s Ryan Harris.
England captain Alastair Cook chose to bat first – perhaps had a tricky decision to make, after winning the toss under partly cloudy but brightening skies, on a pitch many predicted would help the seamers.
That was not especially evident, as Harris and Jackson Bird – brought in for his first Ashes Test at the expense of left-armer Mitchell Starc – failed to find any significant sideways movement either in the air or off the seam with the new ball.
Cook needed 17 balls to get off the mark.
There was still no four from either player until Root drove the final ball of the 12th over to the extra-cover boundary off Bird. Then the next ball, the first of Harris’s second spell, trickled over the rope at long off from a Cook drive.
A slow outfield contributed to the modest scoring rate.
Joe Root was the only wicket to fall in the session, falling for 16 off 52 balls as he played tentatively and nicked an edge off Shane Watson to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Umpire Tony Hill gave it not out, but the controversial Decision Review System ensured that the verdict was overturned.
Jonathan Trott came in and he was untroubled in reaching 13 off 23 balls, while Cook reached lunch on 21 not out from 90 balls.
ENGLAND first innings
A Cook not out 21
J Root c Haddin b Watson 16
J Trott not out 13