The first morning of any Test series always has a magical presence about it.
Welcome to the 2019 edition of the Ashes.
Tim Paine won the toss on an overcast Birmingham morning and chose to bat first.
It didn’t take long for Stuart Broad, who was bowling 64% fuller than he has ever bowled before, to strike as David Warner, playing his first Test since his ban was lifted, lasted only 14 balls for his single digit score of 2.
Things didn’t get better for the Australians as Broad then removed Cameron Bancroft for 8 and then Khawaja was dismissed for 13 to Woakes.
A fighting half-century partnership between former captain, Steve Smith and Travis Head took Australia to the lunch interval, but then things got dramatically worse for the visiting side thereafter.
England took 5-71 in the middle session of play as Australia crumbled to 122-8 at one stage. England were on top and would have been looking to skittle Australia out quickly and cheaply for under 200.
There was just the little hurdle of a Steve Smith sensational century that stood in their way.
In his comeback Test, Steve Smith showed exactly what Australia had been missing in the past 12 months, with his gutsy, unorthodox batting that brought up his 24th Test century, in very trying conditions.
It was a sublime innings and a great treat to watch.
We can think what we want about Smith and what happened in Cape Town in 2018, but we simply cannot deny the skill this man has. He is simply one of the best.
To my disappointment, the Edgbaston crowd immediately starting booing Smith as he reached his milestone. These are supposedly cricket fans, as such they should have appreciated a brilliant Test century from a great player.
Credit must go to the tail-end batsmen, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon, who made sure they stuck around with Smith.
The last two batting partnerships for Australia put on 162 valuable runs, with 88 coming between Smith and Siddle, who made 44 runs, and 74 coming between Smith and Lyon.
England let their days efforts slip away as they allowed Smith to retain the strike on several occasions late on Day 1, as they went from an attacking mind-set, looking for wickets, to just sitting back, almost resigning to the fact they know they can’t dismiss Smith, and waiting for him to make a mistake.
Smith was eventually last man out for a brilliant 144, and Stuart Broad picked up a deserving five-for. With Jimmy Anderson out injured after only 4 overs in the morning session, Broad took the role of senior bowler incredibly well.
England’s Jason Roy and Rory Burns survived the 2 overs before stumps to end the day on 10-0.
It was a great day of Test match Cricket, with proper gutsy batting, and I can’t wait to see what Day 2 has in store for us.