Pat Cummins enjoyed a dream start to life as Australia captain as he led from the front with a first Ashes five-for to bowl England out for 147 on day one of the opening Test.
England’s Ashes campaign began in depressingly familiar fashion as the tourists were skittled for just 147 by Australia on the opening day of the series at the Gabba. The tone was set with the very first ball of the series as Mitchell Starc pegged back Rory Burns’ leg stump and it only got worse for England as they slumped to 11-3 when Josh Hazlewood removed Dawid Malan (6) and then Joe Root for a duck.
Cummins dismissed Ben Stokes to make it 29-4 and while Haseeb Hameed (25), Jos Buttler (39) and Ollie Pope (35) were able to provide some resistance, the last five wickets went down for 35 runs as the tourists’ innings was wrapped up on the stroke of tea.
The miserable batting display detracted from the decision to omit Stuart Broad, joining fellow pace bowler James Anderson on the sidelines, the first time in 15 years England have played an Ashes Test without at least one of them.
With the bad weather, Covid restrictions and a lack of preparation for both sides amounting to a unique build-up to the series, a grey morning and half-empty Gabba did little to make this feel like an Ashes opener.
The day began with Root making the bold decision to bat first after winning the toss despite a healthy covering of grass on the pitch and ample cloud cover, with Cummins confirming he would have done the same, while there was no place in the England XI for Stuart Broad.
When play began half an hour later, Australia made an explosive start as Burns moved across his stumps to Starc and was bowled by a ball that whistled past his pads and swung late to crash into leg stump to bring an almighty roar from the Brisbane crowd.
Three overs later, they were celebrating again as Hazlewood angled the ball across Malan, the left-hander fiddled at it outside off and edged through to Alex Carey behind the stumps.
Root came in at No 4 before the world’s top-ranked Test batter was undone by Hazlewood without troubling the scorers, drawn forward and nicking to David Warner at first slip as the ball nipped away off the seam.
Hameed and Stokes dug in and got through the rest of the first hour, but the latter fell soon afterwards, a back-of-a-length delivery from Cummins from around the wicket jumping out of the surface and the edge flew to Marnus Labuschagne in the cordon.
After getting through the remainder of the morning without incurring any further damage, England would have hoped to start afresh after lunch but found themselves right back in the mire as Cummins had Hameed caught at second slip in the first over of the afternoon.
Buttler joined Pope in the middle and quickly got into his work with a boundary off Hazlewood and continued to attack in an attempt to put some pressure back on the Australian bowlers.
Australia lost a review after going upstairs for a catch down the legside as Buttler tried to work Starc away, but the left-armer had his man just past the midpoint of the afternoon session with a ball pushed across the England man, who feathered behind.
That wicket marked the beginning of the end for England with Pope top-edging a hook a couple of overs later to hand all-rounder Cameron Green his first Test scalp but Cummins dismissed Ollie Robinson eight balls later.
There was a brief flurry from Chris Woakes (21), who took Hazlewood for three successive boundaries, before being bounced out by Cummins, who had got Mark Wood (8) with a short ball in his previous over.
Cummins’ five-wicket haul, completed on the stroke of tea, was the first by a captain in an Ashes game since Bob Willis in 1982 and the first by an Aussie skipper since Richie Benaud 20 years earlier.
England were all out by tea, only for a huge storm to wipe out the evening session and prevent the start of Australia’s reply, meaning day two will start at the earlier time of 23:30 GMT.