Burns out first ball of Ashes as England struggle to 59-4 at lunch

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) – Mitchell Starc sensationally bowled Rory Burns with the first ball of the Ashes series as Australia ripped through England's top order in a chaotic first hour of play at Brisbane on Wednesday.


Dawid Malan, who had scored six, and captain Joe Root, for a duck, quickly followed as England slumped to 11-3 after choosing to bat first on a green-looking wicket.

Australia captain Pat Cummins then removed Ben Stokes for five to leave England struggling at lunch on 59 for four with opener Haseeb Hameed standing firm on 25 alongside Ollie Pope on 17 not out.

England captain Root won the toss and took the brave decision to bat in hot, humid, bowler-friendly conditions at the Gabba under overcast skies, a decision he may have been rueing during the interval.

Brisbane has been experiencing a wet start to the summer, washing out most of the tourists' scheduled warm-up games.

Having had little chance to become acclimatised to conditions, England's top order struggled with the pace and movement of the Australian attack.

The crowd of around 28,000 were barely settled in their seats when Starc clean bowled Burns around the left-hander's legs with a full, swinging delivery.

Burns looked to glance the ball that seemed to be heading down the leg side, only for it to straighten and crash into leg stump.

It was only the fourth time in Ashes history that a wicket had fallen on the first ball. The last victim was England's Stan Worthington in 1936, also in Brisbane.

Josh Hazlewood then had England reeling with two quick wickets -- Malan caught by debutant wicketkeeper Alex Carey for six and then the prize scalp of the world's top-ranked batsman Root, taken at first slip by David Warner without scoring.

England captain Joe Root trudges off after scoring a duck on the first morning at the Gabba on Wednesday
England captain Joe Root trudges off after scoring a duck on the first morning at the Gabba on Wednesday Patrick HAMILTON AFP

With the visitors in huge trouble at 11-3, all-rounder Stokes, so often England's saviour, strode to the crease and he and Hameed looked to steady the ship.

After hitting a glorious cover drive to the boundary after the drinks interval, Cummins got a ball to lift and square up Stokes who fended to Marnus Labuschagne diving to take a good catch to his left at third slip.

England were 29-4 when Ollie Pope joined Hameed at the crease and with conditions easing, they managed to steer England to lunch with no further damage.

England, already missing the rested Jimmy Anderson, made the surprising decision to leave out veteran seamer Stuart Broad.

They instead opted for a seam attack of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson, bolstered by Stokes and left-arm spinner Jack Leach.