The rain played spoil-sport on the opening day of the fourth
Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, allowing only 46.5 overs of action in
a stop-start day’s play. Having already sealed the series victory in Melbourne,
Australia’s hopes of a clean-sweep were curtailed by the moody Sydney weather
and a strong start from the English bowlers on an excellent batting surface.
All three of Australia’s top-order batters were dismissed after getting starts,
with the hosts ending the day on 126 for three.
England, on the other hand, were much improved with the ball
in hand, as the returning Stuart Broad removed his bunny David Warner before
James Anderson and Mark Wood struck in the final seven overs before stumps to
give the tourists the edge heading into day two.
Following a delayed start due to morning showers, Pat
Cummins opted to bat first on a friendly batting surface, and the Australian
openers were able to survive an interrupted first session that saw only 12.3
Warner and Harris extended this solid foundation after the
break, reaching their second consecutive half-century partnership with the
veteran left-hander creaming a flurry of drives against overpitched deliveries
from the English seamers. However, Warner’s charge was halted against the run
of play by Stuart Broad, with the veteran seamer dismissing the left-hander for
the 13th time in his Test career. Warner feasted on fuller deliveries in his
72-ball stay at the crease, but Broad enticed the opener into a drive with a
good length delivery that seamed away and caught the outside edge, giving Zak
Crawley a regulation catch at second slip.
The rain returned to call for an early tea with the hosts on
56 for one, and the hosts continued to frustrate England in the final session,
with Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Harris sharing another half-century
partnership. England struggled with their radar for the majority of the
post-Tea session, but James Anderson returned to make the crucial breakthrough,
ending Marcus Harris’ vigil with a delivery angling away from the left-hander
and catching the outside edge.
Mark Wood followed up that breakthrough with another wicket
in the very next over, squaring up Marnus Labuschagne by going slightly wider
of the crease and nicking off the world’s number one batter to Jos Buttler
behind the stumps. Steve Smith and the returning Usman Khawaja temporarily
steadied the ship after England’s double-strike, but the rain returned for one
final time to call off the day’s play after only 46.5 overs.