LV= Insurance Ashes Fourth Test, Day One at Emirates Old Trafford:
Australia: 299-8 (Labuschagne 51, Marsh 51; Woakes 4-52)
England: Yet to bat
In a pivotal fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford, England persistently eroded Australia’s batting lineup during a riveting and volatile first day.
Trailing 2-1 and needing a victory to trigger a series decider at The Oval, England regularly landed blows that left the visiting team at 299-8 at day’s end.
Stuart Broad claimed two wickets, with his second – a hook from Travis Head to long leg – propelling him into an elite group of only five bowlers in Test history to achieve 600 wickets.
Chris Woakes emerged as the deadliest, with his 4-52 encompassing a superb catch by beleaguered wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to dismiss Mitchell Marsh.
Despite England winning the toss, Australia, needing only one draw from the last two Tests to hold onto the urn, found themselves in prime batting conditions.
Nevertheless, scores of 51 each by Marsh and Marnus Labuschagne, 48 by Head and 41 by Steve Smith painted a picture of batsmen who worked hard but didn’t quite deliver the crucial contributions.
Indeed, with the scoreboard showing 255-7, Australia risked being dismissed within a day until Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc mounted a resistance.
As the day approached its conclusion, Woakes dispatched Carey with the second new ball, offering England a chance to clean up the tail the following morning.
All this action occurred under the looming threat of inclement weather predicted to disrupt the last two days, possibly adding another twist in a series that has already witnessed three nail-biting finishes.
The high stakes of the game contributed to a tense atmosphere, only loosening when Bairstow’s remarkable catch during the evening session roused the Old Trafford Party Stand.
England’s choice to field first was a calculated move. Anticipating the impending poor weather, the hosts needed to optimize their time to dismiss 20 Australian batsmen.
With the coin landing in Ben Stokes’ favour for the fourth consecutive match in this series, it seemed an opportune time to bowl, but by the start of the game, the sun was out, casting its warm glow for the rest of the day.
Consequently, on a level pitch, it might be inferred that Australia failed to fully capitalize on the match’s best batting day – a point highlighted by multiple batsmen losing their wickets after promising starts, signalling a general lack of finishing prowess.
At the close, no side could definitively claim the upper hand.
In their bowling and fielding, England showcased commendable discipline. To nitpick, they occasionally bowled a tad too wide but, overall, they posed a regular threat and, crucially, capitalized on all their opportunities.
Despite his early waywardness with the new ball, Broad managed to dispatch Usman Khawaja and then bowled an excellent spell post-tea that saw him bounce out Head for his historic 600th wicket.
Mark Wood’s pace enticed a mistake from Smith, Moeen Ali turned the ball to trap Labuschagne lbw, while James Anderson maintained economy from the end bearing his name.
However, Woakes was the standout. Recalled for a critical role in the Headingley victory, he vindicated the decision by maintaining a full length here.
He lured David Warner into an edge in the morning, then delivered a decisive spell in the evening, claiming the wickets of Cameron Green and Marsh in one over.
Under scrutiny for his keeping, Bairstow was inconsistent throughout the day. But his dive to the right to catch an edge off Marsh was as breath-taking as it was unforeseen. His jubilant, fists-clenched celebration while seated on the ground was a sight to behold.
Despite a resilient stand from Carey and Starc, the reliable Woakes was entrusted with the second new ball and didn’t disappoint, finding an edge as Carey attempted to leave.
While Captain Pat Cummins might have chosen to bowl first, Australia understood that a solid batting performance could effectively guarantee the urn’s retention.
The visitors, having lengthened their lineup by including all-rounder Green instead of spinner Todd Murphy, couldn’t fully exploit the flat pitch and pleasant sunshine.
With the exception of Khawaja, who fell victim to Broad while trapped on the crease, all batsmen had their moments. Partnerships of 46, 59, 63, and 65 for the second, third, fourth and sixth wickets hinted at promise, only for most of the top order to succumb to unforced errors.
While Warner managed to avoid Broad’s grasp, he played a loose drive at Woakes. Smith appeared threatening until he played across the line against Wood. Labuschagne scored his first half-century of the series, only to miss a harmless delivery from Moeen.
Head fell into England’s short-ball trap and just as Marsh and Green seemed to be tipping the balance in Australia’s favour, both fell within a span of five deliveries from Woakes.
Carey and Starc dug in, their stand of 39 progressing at barely over two runs an over, until Carey misjudged a delivery from Woakes.
Starc remained unbeaten on 23 at the close, joined by captain Cummins on one.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ashes 2023 Fourth Test
Who was the most effective bowler for England on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test in 2023?
Chris Woakes was the most effective bowler for England, claiming 4 wickets for 52 runs.
How many wickets did Stuart Broad take on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test?
Stuart Broad took two wickets on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test.
What significant achievement did Stuart Broad reach on this day?
Stuart Broad reached the significant milestone of 600 wickets in Test cricket, becoming only the fifth bowler in Test history to do so.
What was Australia’s score at the end of the first day in the fourth Ashes Test?
Australia’s score at the end of the first day was 299-8.
Who were the top scorers for Australia on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test?
The top scorers for Australia were Marnus Labuschagne and Mitchell Marsh, both scoring 51 runs each.
Who is leading the series prior to the fourth Ashes Test?
Australia is leading the series with 2-1 before the fourth Ashes Test.
What is England’s strategy going into the fourth Ashes Test?
England needs to win the fourth Ashes Test to force a series decider at The Oval. They opted to field first to maximize their time to take 20 Australian wickets, anticipating bad weather later in the match.