On lively day one of third Ashes Test at Headingley, Mitchell Marsh and Mark Wood took the centre stage with their rollicking performances as England reached 68/3 at stumps, trailing by 195 runs, after Australia were bowled out for 263 in their first innings, here on Thursday.
As England and Australia fought hard for being ahead in the Headingley Test, Wood and Marsh stood up in playing the longer format after a long time to mark their comebacks in Test cricket memorable.
Marsh, playing his first Test match since 2019 as Cameron Green sat out due to a hamstring niggle, smashed his third Test hundred, a run-a-ball 118, to help Australia recover from a wobbly start.
But Wood, playing in a Test match for the first time since December last year, used his searing pace to great effect and proved to be too hot for Australia’s lower order as the visitors lost six wickets in the space of 8.3 overs to be bowled out for 263.
Put into batting first, Australia were met with tough conditions as England’s seamers found significant movement off the pitch. David Warner nicked Stuart Broad through to the slip cordon to be dismissed by the fast bowler for the 16th time in Test cricket.
Wood, meanwhile, sent Usman Khawaja packing with a pacy delivery clocked at 94.6 miles/hour and Steve Smith, playing his 100th Test, walked in. Labuschagne and Smith found the going tough with Woakes and Ollie Robinson hitting the right channels.
Labuschagne eventually edged Woakes to Root at first slip and Broad had Smith caught behind soon after the batter burnt a review to leave Australia four down at lunch. Post the lunch break, Marsh appeared to be batting on a different wicket to the rest of his mates as he middled his shots with ease.
He was helped earlier on in his innings at 12 when Joe Root shelled a catch at first slip off Chris Woakes. From there, Marsh became more confident and scored at run-a-ball with Travis Head providing strong support at the other end.
The duo resurrected the Australian innings from 85/4 and took the team past 200. Head played with more caution than usual with Marsh pressing the accelerator to keep England on their toes.
The all-rounder completed his ton off 102 balls, his third Test ton against England. But a wicket came against the run of play for England when Woakes had the centurion caught at slips at the stroke of tea, ending a mammoth 155-run partnership off 168 balls.
Head fell immediately after the break, with Woakes once again creating the breakthrough. With the two settled batters back in the hut, England unleashed Wood, who went on to decimate the tail, taking four wickets in the next 14 balls, including castling Mitchell Starc and skipper Pat Cummins in the same over.
In reply, captain Cummins sent back Ben Duckett, who had made two half-centuries at Lord’s, and Harry Brook back early. From 22/2, Zak Crawley and Joe Root lifted England with some positive batting.
But Marsh’s excellent day continued as the medium pacer found Crawley’s edge. Joe Root (19 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (1 not out) remain unbeaten at the close as England would be aiming to take a lead in the first innings with the Ashes series on the line.
Brief Scores: England 68/3 in 19 overs (Zak Crawley 33, Joe Root 19 not out; Pat Cummins 2/28) trail Australia 263 in 60.4 overs (Mitchell Marsh 118, Travis Head 39; Mark Wood 5/34, Chris Woakes 3/73) by 195 runs.