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Joe Root’s horror Ashes start as team selection and toss decision gets hammered

England captain Joe Root wants to set the record straight in Australia but things couldn’t have started much worse

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Joe Root was left to ponder what might have been after suffering a horror first day on the field and getting hammered by pundits off it.

The England skipper took a huge gamble right from the start by leaving out his two most experienced bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad in conditions that appeared tailor-made for them.

And then even though he won the toss under cloudy skies with a green tinged pitch, he shunned the idea of bowling first preferring to make his batsmen face one of the toughest tests in the game as they were skittled for just 147.

It was a tough day at the office for Joe Root
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Philip Brown/Popperfoto/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Perhaps keen to avoid the mistake made by Nasser Hussain almost 20 years ago, Root chose to bat first much to the surprise of several former players.

“It is a huge gamble,” said former Queensland and Aussie legend Allan Border who had his statue unveiled at the ground this week. “I’m standing here with overcast skies and it is quite humid. We have got a grassy pitch out in the middle there.

“All the conditions are absolutely prime for Jimmy Anderson to perform at his best.

“I think you should be playing your best team first up and the conditions are perfect for someone like Jimmy Anderson and if he is not injured I think they have made a mistake that he is not playing.”

England claim James Anderson is being rested much to the surprise of Aussie legend Allan Border
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PA)

With Broad also left out in preference of Jack Leach, England turned their backs on more than 1100 Test wickets, but Root could still have given his bowlers the chance to make inroads early on.

Instead it was Australia’s pacemen that did the damage from the very first ball and things hardly improved from there.

“I would have bowled first if I was England,” said Mark Waugh. “I think the conditions were just too good not to bowl first.

“Their strengths are their bowling so it’s a brave decision to bat.

“The last four test matches at the Gabba, the team batting first have lost all four test matches, so I think you’ve got to forget what Nasser Hussain did back all those years ago.”

Root found himself out in the middle depressingly early once again with the score at 11-2, and with the chance to show why he batted first.

England opener Rory Burns was bowled by Mitchell Starc with the first ball of the Ashes
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Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

But rather than continue his brilliant 2021 form, he was given nothing short of a good going over by Josh Hazlewood who moved the ball both ways and had Root playing and missing before edging a push to David Warner at slip for a duck.

For a man who is desperate to put the record straight out in Australia, it really couldn’t have got off to a worse start.

“It is a first day duck for the England captain,” said Adam Gilchrist. “Hazlewood, relentless. Australia are pinning England to the floor.”

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