STUART BROAD ensured England enjoyed early wickets on the first morning of the 2019 Ashes, with Australia reaching lunch on 83-3 in front of a hostile Edgbaston crowd.
Read more - A defining summer for Joe Root
The tourists opted to bat in the first Specsavers Test but lost their top three for just 35 as Broad accounted for openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft - both booed to and from the crease following their roles in the sandpaper scandal - and World Cup winner Chris Woakes sent back Usman Khawaja.
A stand of 48 between Steve Smith, the third of Australia’s reunited ball-tampering trio, and Travis Head evened up the scales heading into the break as the rivals jostled for supremacy on day one of a possible 25 this summer.
England fans will be nevertheless be sweating on James Anderson’s fitness, with the record wicket-taker bowling a solitary four-over spell in the session having just returned from a calf injury.
Tim Paine’s decision to bat first after winning the toss meant Warner and Bancroft were straight into the lion’s den. Catcalls rang around the ground as they walked to the crease, with the Hollies Stand upping the ante with a chorus of “cheats, cheats, cheats”.
Bancroft began by playing back an Anderson maiden but Warner almost gave his detractors their dream outcome when he nicked his first ball of the day down the leg side.
Broad appealed, as did wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, but neither umpire Aleem Dar nor captain Joe Root were persuaded.
That was the start of a colourful but unaccomplished knock from Warner, who was spoken to about batting too far down and survived a loud lbw shout before being given for two when Broad beat him again bowling fast and full from round the wicket.
Dar was quick to raise the finger this time and Warner trudged off to widespread jeers as England fans sang “cheerio” and waved squares of sandpaper. Once again, though, replays told a different story, suggesting the ball would have slipped past the leg stump.
It took Bancroft 25 minutes to get off the mark, with a punched drive down the ground, but it was only a matter of time before Broad had his way. Having successfully pushed the opener deep with a series of yorker-length deliveries he pulled one back and drew a flimsy edge that Joe Root snaffled at slip.
Bancroft crossed with the incoming Smith as he left, inviting the loudest reactions yet, with Broad signalling to the fans to keep up the noise.
The seamer beat Smith’s outside edge three times on nought but Usman Khawaja was next to go for 13, DRS confirming he had feathered Chris Woakes behind.
Smith (23no) began to find his feet and Head (26no) hit four boundaries as Australia restored calm to their innings before the interval.