|Men’s Ashes: First Specsavers Test, Edgbaston (day two of five)|
|Australia 284: Smith 144, Broad 5-86|
|England 267-4: Burns 125*, Root 57|
|England trail by 17 runs|
Rory Burns’ maiden Test century led a determined England batting effort on the second day of the first Ashes Test against Australia at Edgbaston.
The left-handed opener, playing his eighth match, battled through an attritional day for 125 not out.
With Joe Root making 57 in a second-wicket stand of 132 and Ben Stokes an unbeaten 38, England reached 267-4, trailing by 17.
England had slices of luck. Burns was on 21 when he would have been lbw to Nathan Lyon had Australia opted to review, while Root survived a James Pattinson delivery hitting off stump but not dislodging the bails when he was on nine.
Those incidents were characteristic of a day when Australia bowled well for little reward in front of another noisy crowd that celebrated every England run and basked in the warm evening sunshine.
Only when they persuaded the umpires to change the ball did the tourists have a period of success, with Joe Denly and Jos Buttler falling in the space of four overs.
But Stokes, given a hero’s welcome after his performance in the World Cup final, joined Burns in an unbroken stand of 73 for the fifth wicket.
It leaves England in a strong position, even if they are likely to need a healthy first-innings lead to negate the disadvantage of batting last on a pitch already offering sharp turn.
England batsmen come through first examination
Speaking before the series, England coach Trevor Bayliss said “you do not have to be Einstein” to deduce that an unreliable top order was their biggest obstacle to regaining the Ashes.
In an unconvincing display against Ireland last week, when England were bowled out for 85 in the first innings, it was Burns who looked the most vulnerable.
Here, though, the Surrey man was the mainstay of a collective England showing of old-fashioned batting values – patience, watchfulness and occupation of the crease.
It meant that the action was much more sedate than the chaos of the opening day, but the home crowd were just as keen to sing for England and taunt the Australians.
Like Thursday, umpiring errors were a feature, but more forgivable. It was a surprise when Burns was shown to be lbw to Lyon, the noise of ball hitting stump actually led to Root being given caught behind and a tiny inside edge was not detected when he was given leg before to Peter Siddle on 14. Both were overturned.
On top of England’s solid day with the bat, there was also the welcome sight of James Anderson running on the outfield, but there is still no news from the scan on his injured calf.
Burns lights up Edgbaston
Following Australia’s Steve Smith on day one, Burns became the second idiosyncratic centurion of the Test, with his leaning stance, glance to mid-wicket as the bowler runs in and bat that comes down from the direction of gully.
After England resumed on 10-0, Jason Roy edged to first slip for 10, leaving Burns and Root to grind through the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon.
Root scored only 11 from his first 60 balls, but gradually increased in fluency. Burns left well, scored mainly square of the wicket on both sides and had the fortune of a number of edges not going to hand.
Just as England were gaining momentum, Root patted a drive back to Siddle that the bowler held one-handed, with Denly and Buttler following soon after.
Burns continued the battle. He spent 37 minutes on 92 and 35 balls in the 90s before a single off Lyon – confirmed after he was shown to have beaten a direct hit to the non-striker’s end – sparked an emotional celebration and chants of his name from the Hollies Stand.
Together with Stokes, he repelled the second new ball to take England to the brink of parity.
Australia toil for little reward
Bar bowling a fraction too short in the morning and off-spinner Lyon occasionally drifting on to the pads of England’s left-handers, Australia toiled honestly and without the rub of the green.
How different might the day have been had the bails fallen when Pattinson got through Root to hit the off stump? On another occasion, one of Burns’ edges could have found a slip fielder.
They were at least boosted 58 overs into the day when they convinced the umpires that the ball had gone out of shape and were given a replacement that swung much more than the previous version.
Pattinson immediately shaped one into Denly that pinned him leg before, while Cummins’ away movement had Buttler edge to third slip.
That, though, was the best it got for the visitors, who at one point gave an over to Matthew Wade, a wicketkeeper by trade.
After an unsuccessful review against Burns, the day ended with Australia being subjected to a barrage of mock appeals from the Hollies.
‘Cook would have been proud of that innings’ – what they said
England’s Rory Burns on BBC Test Match Special: “It is something I have dreamt of. I was on 99 for a while – to get over the line is awesome. I was calm throughout it. I was waiting for a ball to come into my area.
“It was one for the purists – hard work. I enjoy that. Getting in the battle and doing what you can is enough for me.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special: “Rory Burns has arrived here at Edgbaston. Mentally, he showed he is made of strong stuff.
“Alastair Cook would have been proud of that innings. There is no greater compliment for an England opening batsman.
“He was all over the shop against Ireland last week. His technique was not with him. He has gone away and worked with his coaches. He has got his hands tighter to his body and had a great game plan. To bat all day was fantastic.
“That was the best day of Test match batting I have seen from England in a long, long time.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “England really should be looking to establish a sizable first-innings lead tomorrow – and they will need it.”
- Burns is the first England opener to bat through a day in a Test since Alastair Cook against Australia at Melbourne in 2017
- Burns spent 54 minutes in the nineties
- He is the first opener to score a hundred in England other than Alastair Cook since Adam Lyth in 2015