Sporting a bucket hat England’s sluggish start to the first Ashes match surprised Ben Stokes. Crawley smashed the first ball of the series for four as the sun shone brightly over Edgbaston. England’s attempt to rapidly score led to the widespread use of the Bazball tactic.
Ben Stokes, in a bucket hat, was standing in disbelief on the balcony when the cameras panned to him. Things were looking up for the plan. Many previous Ashes series have been established by the first ball, such as the 2006 series that ended in a 5-0 whitewash in Australia and was preceded by a poor delivery from Steve Harmison. Then, 18 months ago, Rory Burns lost another match after Mitchell Starc amputated his leg.
In response to Crawley’s attempt, the Edgbaston crowd of 25,000 erupted in cheers.
England’s openers got the series off to a rousing start, scoring 22 runs without losing a wicket in just 21 balls. The four boundaries they hit were met with thunderous applause from the crowd.
Ben Duckett chased a wider one from Hazlewood and got a thin edge through to wicketkeeper Alex Carey, but Australia soon got on the board.
However, Crawley had a stroke of incredible luck on 40 after getting tangled up with Boland, with UltraEdge revealing that he got a small touch to a swipe across the line. None of Australia’s bowlers were able to keep England in check.
That didn’t become clear until the following over, though, because neither Boland nor any of the Australian fielders challenged the catch.
When Lyon crashed into Pope’s pads, though, they fared better, as the initial not-out call was reversed after review. After Pope laboriously departed for 31, unchecked, he promptly scored a fifty off of 56 balls.
Just before midday, Australia got on the board when Crawley didn’t budge after a fullish delivery from Boland surprisingly sprang up at him and appeared to flick his glove on its way to Carey.
Despite Australia’s confident arguments, Marais Erasmus remained skeptical, so Cummins took the matter to a higher authority. After leaving for 61 off only 73 balls, he felt vindicated when technology revealed the ball had brushed Crawley’s glove. An exciting opening session came to a close with England on 124 for three.