Burns and Root press home England’s advantage at Edgbaston
Rory Burns and Joe Root took advantage of some early moments of fortune to contribute half-centuries and put England in a respectable position at tea on day two of the first Ashes Test.
Australia neglected to review a leg-before decision against Burns, on 21, with technology highlighting their blunder, while James Pattinson located Root’s off-stump only for the England captain to be spared when the bails stayed in place.
A 132-run stand formed the backbone of England’s 170 for two, Root departing before the end of the session for 57 after Peter Siddle took a sharp return catch, though Burns (82no) is on course for a maiden international ton.
It has been a chastening day thus far for Australia’s vaunted bowling attack, who have struggled to find the lavish movement their English counterparts enjoyed, with Jason Roy and Root the only batsmen back in the pavilion.
Roy seemed ill-at-ease at the crease on Friday morning 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.
There were a couple of outside edges that raced to the boundary for Burns, now two short of his Test-best score and who will have eyes on three figures that will go some way to solidifying his place at the top of England’s order.