Brilliant Burns brings up maiden hundred at Edgbston
Rory Burns went a long way towards cementing his spot at the top of England’s order with a maiden international century on day two of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
Burns capitalised on some early fortune – had Australia reviewed an lbw appeal off Nathan Lyon, the Surrey captain would have departed for 21 – to move to three figures for the first time in his eighth Test.
The opener’s unbeaten 100, as well as Joe Root’s 57 in a 132-run union alongside the centurion, carried England to 205 for four – still 79 adrift of Australia’s first-innings total.
At 154 for one, England appeared to be cruising but once Root departed to a sharp return catch from Peter Siddle, Australia successfully campaigned to have the ball changed, bringing the cheap wickets of Joe Denly and Jos Buttler.
The headline act, though, was Burns, who spent 18 balls on 92 and nine on 99 before scampering for a quick single off Lyon, getting home despite a direct hit at the non-striker’s end from mid-on.
Despite the initial uncertainty, Burns removed his helmet, relief etched over his face, as he celebrated with Ben Stokes, having helped England into a respectable position in this Specsavers series opener.
The day started with Jason Roy ill-at-ease at the crease as England resumed on 10 without loss in response to Australia’s 284 all out, achieved thanks to Steve Smith’s majestic 144.
His only runs of the day came courtesy of a streaky boundary between third slip and gully, soon departing after fencing at a rising delivery from James Pattinson, the outside edge pouched low at second slip by Smith.
Nathan Lyon was introduced into the attack as early as the 13th over and his first delivery spun wickedly, almost taking out Root’s off-stump, though he should have been in the wickets soon after.
Burns had propped forward to the off-spinner but was beaten on the inside edge. It was a half-hearted appeal from Australia and any thought of querying the call was not taken into consideration.
Not for the first time in this Test, the umpire’s judgement was shown up by the decision review system, ball-tracking showing the delivery would have straightened enough to crash into leg stump.
Australia were further aggrieved when Root, on nine, was given out following a beauty from Pattinson, a willowy sound evident as the ball passed the bat before being caught by Tim Paine.
However, UltraEdge showed the ball kissed the off-stump and the bails remaining in place meant Root, back at number three, was spared.
Shortly after the lunch interval, the umpire’s finger went up once again only for Root to immediately signal for a review, a big inside edge coming to his rescue, this time off Siddle.
There were few alarms from then on as Burns and Root ate into Australia’s advantage in an increasingly assured union.
Both batsmen went to fifty from 110 deliveries and it came as a surprise when Root was prised out before tea, too early on a drive from Siddle, who flung out his right arm and took a stunning reflex catch.
It was just reward for his toil and persistence, the veteran seamer comfortably the most economical of Australia’s four frontline bowlers.
Australia were able to have the ball changed after tea, the new nut providing more movement for Australia’s seamers and leading to the downfalls of Denly and Buttler, both of whom fell to deliveries angling in off Pattinson and Pat Cummins respectively.
Much of the focus by this point was on Burns, and he survived a couple of nervy moments to reach three figures for the first time in England whites.