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  • England v Australia, 4th Ashes Test, Durham, 1st day

Cook leads England grind through steady morning

The Report by Daniel Brettig
August 9, 2013
Lunch England 57 for 1 (Cook 21*, Trott 13*) v Australia
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Jackson Bird was picked for his third Test and contributed to a controlled morning from Australia's seamers © Getty Images
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England's captain Alastair Cook fought through the first session of the fourth Investec Test without too many major alarms to guide the hosts to 57 for 1 after winning the toss on a fine morning in Durham. Joe Root fell to Shane Watson but Cook stood firm, and Jonathan Trott made a promising start against Australian bowling that was diligent but lacking a little of the edge it carried at Old Trafford.

Root's exit came via the DRS after the umpire Tony Hill had failed to spot a clear edge behind, but it was a rare moment of intrigue in a morning characterised by Cook's dour defence and sound judgment of what to play at. Jackson Bird bowled sturdily after being called up for his first contribution of the series, while Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle took time to summon their best.

Having retained the Ashes via a draw in Manchester, England resisted the temptation to call in Graham Onions on his home ground, naming an unchanged team. Australia left out Mitchell Starc and called up Bird for his third Test match after a compelling start to his international career against Sri Lanka at the start of the year. Bird's knack for wickets but also long, nagging spells allowed Clarke the option of using Harris in shorter bursts following his earlier exertions.

The early overs were lacking a certain energy, as Harris fought to relocate the rhythm and swing of Old Trafford, while Bird settled into a line and length that encouraged defensive dead bats but did not coax any edges into the Australian slips cordon. There was the merest hint of seam movement but the surface was otherwise slow, as was the outfield. Cook and Root battled to find their timing, England's captain leaving plenty outside off stump while also coping with the full length Australia have forced him to deal with throughout the series.

Clarke again resorted to Watson before Peter Siddle, hoping for some new ball movement, and after a somewhat wayward start it was the newly demoted allrounder - expected to bat at No. 6 in this match - who struck. Root was somewhat tardy getting forward to a ball sliding away from him, and the sound of the nick was clear to all except Hill, who was soon crossing himself and raising his finger after Clarke's referral showed up a noise, a deflection and even a Hot Spot.

The wicket brought Trott to the crease, and he immediately showed signs of improved fluency after a poor third Test. His one boundary before the interval was an edge through the slips but there was also a more decisive flick through midwicket and a pair of confident strides out to drive through the off side. Clarke did not chance an over from Nathan Lyon during the first session, preferring to let his seamers push for wickets on a morning that yielded them less than they might have hoped for.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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