Australia had to rely on the decision review system (DRS) three seperate times in order to claim wickets during England's first innings during an inauspicious start to the Ashes series. England wrapped up their first innings with the earliest declaration in Ashes history, after Joe Root guided the home side to 8/393 courtesy of his 30th Test century.
The visitors had their work cut out for them in securing wickets at times, with DRS referrals required to send Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope back to the pavilion. The field umpire's blushes were spared on a third occasion when Root reviewed a delivery he had initially been given out LBW on off Nathan Lyon's bowling.
Pope was the first to be sent packing, despite umpire Ahsan Raza being unmoved by Lyon's initial appeal for LBW after a play and miss from the English batsman. Australian skipper referred it to the DRS, which showed the ball would have clipped leg stump, sending Pope on his way.
Next came Crawley, who was spared by the other umpire, Marais Erasmus, after a Scott Boland delivery looked to have clipped his glove 10 overs after Pope's dismissal. Another review from the Aussies showed the ball had clearly deflected off the opener's glove - a crucial wicket after Crawley had gotten off to a strong start, heading back to the sheds for 61.
Australia missed a golden opportunity to dismiss Crawley earlier in his innings, with the Englishman offering a coy grin after no appeal came on a delivery he knew he had edged through to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Replays showed a clear nick that went unnoticed.
Lyon thought he had Root out in the 49th over of the innings, however the Englishman's review of the LBW dismissal showed the ball had come off his glove before hitting his pads. It was a crucial review for England, with Root going on to be the cornerstone of their first innings total.
Fans on social media had a raised eyebrow towards the umpires' seemingly tentative decision-making, with former Test star Mark Waugh suggesting umpires were more conservative when teams had DRS reviews to spare. Others said Australia would be in a much worse position had Cummins not successfully reviewed decisions against them with Crawley and Pope.
What a massive game-changer DRS has been since its introduction. Aus have Eng 3-124 at lunch. 15 years ago, it would have been 1-200.
— Ric Finlay (@RicFinlay) June 16, 2023
Fair to say umpires er on the side of caution when they know both teams have there full lot of reviews left.
— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) June 17, 2023
We’ve already taken 2 wickets where we’ve had to review to get the index finger up. We’ll need our share of the 50/50s this series if these are the pitches being served up at Stokes’ request. Hard work, harder work if umpires calls don’t go our way. #ashes
— Paul Kneeshaw (@Stick_Beetle) June 16, 2023
That's why the review is so important. Two clear dismissals given not out on ground.
Three wickets in the first session is a good result, but England's quality middle order awaits.#Ashes
— CricBlog ✍ (@cric_blog) June 16, 2023
The most fortunate people in the game so far are the umpires. A couple of absolute howlers in the 1st session in favour of the home team. Very very lucky that Australia was able to review them. #ENGvAUS#Ashes
— KillerBeePlacebo (@RoderickMakim) June 16, 2023
The standard of umpiring in Ashes in the UK since 2013 has been abhorrent. The best umpires in world cricket are Richard Kettleborough, Richard Illingworth, Rod Tucker and Paul Reiffel. Why can’t we have the best umpires umpire the best Test matches? DRS cancels out bias. #Ashes
— Jacob Landsmeer (@jlandsme_93) June 16, 2023
Joe Root century guides England to strong first innings position
Calm, untroubled, but still infused with the impish brilliance of a master batter freed from the straightjacket of captaincy to express himself with some quite preposterous strokeplay, Root went his own way to a glorious hundred that could help shape this series. He was the glue that allowed all the manic stuff that comes with England's all-out attack to work on Friday, reaching his 30th Test ton and fourth against Australia off - by Bazball standards - a positively pedestrian 145 balls.
But glue's absolutely not the right word to describe some of the magic he sprinkled. In 141 years of Ashes combat, has there ever been anything like the amazing reverse ramps over his shoulder, taken off Australia's captain Cummins and super-accurate Scott Boland, that cleared the third man ropes? Quite amazing.
It was a stunning knock, decorated with seven crisp fours as well as four sixes in all, including a couple of huge ones slogged off Nathan Lyon after he'd reached three figures, that demonstrated his total control amid the mayhem. Though the declaration spoiled his late fun, the knock was a little reminiscent of his century at Cardiff that set his stall for the 2015 series which England went on to win 3-2.
Amazingly, since that series, he hadn't scored a hundred in eight years and 31 innings against Australia. Annoyingly for him, his career has been littered with failures to convert his 50s into hundreds versus the old enemy.
But this was very ominous for the visitors. Root went past 50 for the 20th time in the Ashes, and this time there never seemed a single doubt he would go on to three figures for just the fourth time against them.
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