Rory Burns and Joe Root survive to give England solid start
Rory Burns and Joe Root both had moments of good fortune as they steered England to a promising platform of 71 for one on the second morning of the first Ashes Test.
Jason Roy was the only wicket to fall before lunch, dismissed by James Pattinson for 10 after an uncomfortable stay that will only amplify the debate over his role in an unfamiliar opening position, but Burns made a hard-working 41 not out to answer his own critics.
He would have gone for 21 had Australia reviewed Nathan Lyon’s sound lbw appeal but, that aside, the Surrey skipper batted with character and courage in response to the tourists’ first-day score of 284.
Skipper Root also made it through to lunch on 11 from 57 balls, enjoying an unlikely slice of luck when Pattinson grazed his off stump at pace and somehow failed to dislodge the bails.
Resuming on 10 without loss after facing two tense overs on the first evening, England once again had to face up to a fiery new-ball pairing comprising the world’s number one Test bowler Pat Cummins and Pattinson.
Roy never looked at ease against Pattinson, twice foreshadowing his own demise with outside edges that did not go to hand.
The first flew between third slip and gully for four, his only runs of the day, and the second hit the turf just in front of the cordon.
It was third time lucky for Pattinson, though, with first-day centurion Steve Smith taking a low catch at second slip.
Roy’s brilliant World Cup campaign underlined his status as one of the game’s best one-day openers but this did little to settle questions over his red-ball credentials.
Burns has also struggled to impose himself on the Test stage but he showed an admirable appetite for the contest, brushing off an early blow to the helmet from Cummins to grind out a score.
He worked five deliveries to the boundary in two hard-fought hours but by simply occupying the crease and taking the hardness off the ball he was doing his job.
The introduction of Lyon’s off-spin threatened to change things, particularly when his first ball turned wickedly and into an unsuspecting Root.
Lyon did enough to see off Burns with one that gripped but his appeal was waved away and captain Tim Paine, who had the best seat in the house behind the stumps, decided not to refer.
Root had an even luckier moment on nine, Pattinson beating him with a beauty that flew into Paine’s gloves.
The Yorkshireman was convinced he had not hit it and called for a review which showed the ball had shaved the outside of the off stump and somehow failed to dislodge the bails.