Cricket Expert & Columnist
Nasser Hussain: England got decision wrong at toss on 'perfect' day for Australia in Ashes
With bowling England's strongest suit, Nasser Hussain feels the tourists should have made use of a greenish pitch after winning the toss in Brisbane; Sky Cricket expert says Joe Root's duck amid a score 147 all out has given Australia a big lift - but that the hosts have vulnerabilities
Last Updated: 08/12/21 11:31pm
After England were rolled for 147 having elected to bat first in the Ashes opener, Nasser Hussain looks at Joe Root's decision at the toss, the omissions of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, a "perfect" day for Australia and how the tourists can bounce back…
It always happens in Brisbane, whether it be me with the toss in 2002, Steve Harmison with the wides to second slip in 2006 - or, on this occasion, Rory Burns being bowled first ball by Mitchell Starc.
What a dramatic start it was and 147 all out was perfect for Australia. They had the perfect day as with the rain around they wouldn't have wanted to go out and bat for half an hour in the evening.
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With Australia's new captain Pat Cummins getting a five-for, including the England captain Joe Root out for a duck it couldn't have gone any better for Australia.
I thought Cummins rotated his bowlers well, rotated himself well.
He knew that Root had struggled against his bowling over the years so as soon as Root was in, Cummins took Starc out of the attack and bowled himself.
He got all his bowlers on before lunch, giving them all a go to introduce them into the series. He got his fields right and the catching from Australia was outstanding.
Tough call for Root at the toss
I think the best thing Cummins did was lose the toss because both captains were going to bat. Root did bat and, in the end, it proved a good toss to lose.
I thought it was a harder toss for Root than mine in 2002, which was a diabolical decision!
I think they had had a drought in Brisbane for six months and I suddenly found a bit of moisture in the pitch, had a bowl and Australia were 364-2 at the end of day one!
It was a green pitch here and it had been raining but while everyone focuses on what the pitch is doing on the first morning, as a captain you have to think what the pitch look like on days three, four and five.
The humidity, the cracks in the pitch, the fact it tends to get a bit quicker. You have to think ahead.
Obviously 147 all out tells you it was the wrong decision with the way it seamed around and bounced and sometimes you can confuse it all. I know, I did it.
You turn up, look down at a pitch, see it's green and has rained, so what is your strongest suit?
Anyone who has watched England over the last three or four years would say bowling is England's strongest suit. What is Australia's weaker suit? That is their batting. Sometimes just forget the stats, forget everything, look down at what is in front of you and try and try make a decision.
No Anderson or Broad
I would have rotated Broad and Anderson throughout the series as you need a balanced attack to bowl a side out in the first innings but also in the second innings when it gets flatter. You might need a bit of pace, a bit of spin
The one-dimensional attack in England of Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, and Ollie Robinson won't always work in Australia - although it would have worked on day one here, it would have been the ideal attack.
The problem with two aging seamers, no cricket in the build-up and a recent record of injuries is that they were doubtful to get through back-to-back Test matches
With a day-nighter in Adelaide up next it looks like England are saving them for that game but I would have had one of Broad or Anderson, even though I wasn't that fussed about which one.
Root wicket a crucial moment
With England's batting, there were individual errors.
Rory Burns was under pressure - he has been out six times for a duck this year now, which tends to suggest he is a nervy starter.
When you are nervous your worst technical failing gets exaggerated and his worst technical failing is that his front foot goes over to the off-side a little bit too much.
If you freeze it on when Starc delivered that ball, his foot was way across. Australia had done their prep and Starc knew full and straight was the way to go to Burns.
Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes could have left the balls they got out to but then the biggest wicket was Root - not just because he is England's best player but because of the impact throughout the series.
He has had had difficult Ashes series of late and has struggled against Josh Hazlewood and Cummins so he would have wanted a good start to put the demons to bed. To get out for a duck just starts those mind games.
Whenever he bats, Hazlewood and Cummins will be on to bowl.
Australia have vulnerabilities
England may now need a couple of days of rain but, remember, this Australian batting line-up is fragile.
They have two world-class players in Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith but David Warner is under a little bit of pressure and they have a few players coming back into Test cricket.
The pitch will still do a bit and Robinson and Woakes in these conditions will be a handful but England will have to catch well as they are chasing the game.
It has not been an ideal start for England - Brisbane all over again - but you just have to hope.
England have a decent bowling attack and Australia have vulnerabilities with the bat.