Ollie Pope defended Joe Root’s decision to bat first after the first day of the Ashes turned into a familiar disaster for England.
From the moment Rory Burns became only the second batsman to be dismissed from the first ball of an Ashes series – following Derbyshire’s Stan Worthington, also at the Gabba, in 1936-37 – it was all downhill for England.
They crashed to 29 for four with both Joe Root, dismissed for his first duck of a hugely prolific year, and Ben Stokes both dismissed as Australia were rampant under their new captain Pat Cummins.
Ollie Pope (right) pictured after his dismissal to Cameron Green for 35 on a disastrous opening day of the Ashes for England as they were bowled out for 147 at The Gabba
Pope joined Jos Buttler in a middle order counter-attack after a terrible start for England
Pope and Jos Buttler gave England a semblance of credibility to take the score up to 147 all out before the forecast heavy rain brought a premature end to the first day in Brisbane.
But England, who controversially left out Stuart Broad after ruling Jimmy Anderson out on Tuesday, face a long road back already.
‘I wouldn’t say it created panic at all because you have to stay calm but it wasn’t the ideal start,’ said Pope about the sight of the first ball crashing into Burns’s leg-stump.
‘It was always going to nip around a bit early doors and with the extra bounce it created edges but if we’d managed to get through that first two hours one down for example we could have made the most of the softer ball and a slower pitch today.
‘I wouldn’t look too much at the toss we just had to execute in the first couple of hours of the game. We had the quality in the side to score the runs we needed.
England captain Joe Root (left) won the toss and opted to bat first in Brisbane
Pope became Cameron Green’s first Test wicket as England endured a tough first day
‘We’ll keep fighting and we have to see both sides bat on this wicket. We don’t know how it’s going to react tomorrow and we’ll come back stronger.’
The Surrey batsman, who made 35 before becoming a first Test victim for the giant figure of Cameron Green, did admit to ‘frustration’ because he insisted there was a big score to be made by England’s misfiring batting line-up.
‘It wasn’t the end result we wanted. We’re not going to get too down about it but it’s a disappointing start,’ he said.
‘There’s frustration we haven’t been able to put on that big score we wanted but the pitch did offer a fair bit, especially for seam.
‘It’s a long tour and a long series. We’ll keep the spirits high and come back fighting tomorrow.’
Heavy rain prevented England hitting back at Australia with the ball in the evening session
Pope, preferred to the experience of Jonny Bairstow in the England middle order, tried to be positive after emerging with England at 29 for four.
‘I like to come with a lot of intent and want to move the scoreboard along, especially if the ball is in my area,’ he said.
‘I think a situation like that leant itself to that too. You need to get your runs on the board. The ball got a bit softer and the seam wasn’t quite as pronounced.
‘Jos came in and played nicely and it’s just frustrating neither of us could go on and get a bigger score.’
And the Surrey man attempted to defend England’s decision to leave out more than 1,100 Test wickets in the form of their twin giants Anderson, who they aid is being protected ahead of the second Test under lights in Adelaide, and Broad.
The first ball dismissal of Rory Burns by Mitchell Starc set the tone for England on day one
Instead they went with a spinner in Jack Leach, banking on conditions changing over the five days.
‘Ollie Robinson had the shirt from the summer and he bowled beautifully against India. He has started his Test career very well and Broady missed the back end of that India series.
‘And we’ve got the extra pace of Woody while Woakesey can add to the batting too. I guess that’s the reasons behind it but it’s a bit above my pay grade.’
New Australia captain Pat Cummins got off to a dream start with a five-wicket haul and then expressed his ‘surprise’ that England had left out Broad.
Stuart Broad (right) was left out of the England team for the opening match of the series
‘Everything went to plan today,’ said Cummins. ‘We took all our chances and that was huge. I thought England would play one of Broad or Anderson in each Test so to leave out both was a bit of a surprise.
‘Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson are pretty similar bowlers so the England selectors have gone for different options but we will knuckle down against them and do our thing.’