James Vince looked a far more astute player in his Test comeback, says Nasser Hussain, on a pleasing day for England – but things will get tougher at the Gabba…
One look at the scoreboard – England at 196-4 – would suggest the first Ashes Test is pretty even after day one.
However, in the context of the series, what has happened to England in Brisbane before, and all the chat ahead of the game about this Australia bowling attack, England will be pleased.
To get just shy of 200 without Alastair Cook and Joe Root contributing too much and the bulk of the runs scored by James Vince and Mark Stoneman, in particular, and now Dawid Malan is a bonus.
England would have wanted Vince, Stoneman and Malan to get into the series quickly and they now have, although the first two will look at missed opportunities to get their maiden Test hundreds.
Vince was impressive – I was singing his praises a year or so ago before he played in Test cricket and then said when he played well for Hampshire at T20 Finals Day this summer, scoring 56 against Nottinghamshire, that he still had a future in an England shirt.
Anyone who has seen him get runs will tell you he is high class, very pleasing on the eye – he just kept getting out the same way in his first spell in Test cricket, nicking off to slip.
In Brisbane he was much more watchful outside off stump, left the ball a lot better and on the rare occasion he did play a loose shot, he got harsh on himself and practised what he should have done.
He just needs to make sure he tightens up and displays that over-my-dead-body attitude because he has all the ingredients to make a success of international cricket.
Michael Atherton reviews day one at the Gabba, saying James Vince played 'beautifully' for his 83.
Getting your first score of note in an England shirt is key, especially, I think, for someone like Vince, who was a leftfield selection for this tour and probably someone who doubted himself after that knock-back of being dropped a few summers ago.
He will have some very nice things written and said about him now and feel a lot more comfortable in his bed – but he will be disappointed.
He’ll be thinking about the 17 runs he didn’t get as opposed to the 83 he did and the manner of his dismissal, which could prove pivotal come the end of the Test match.
Stoneman put on 125 with Vince for the second wicket and he is a real character. When he first came into the side at Durham he would have played on spicy pitches and had to battle hard and grind out scores.
He can be very fluent, as we saw at times this summer and have seen already on this tour, but he is not shy of working hard for his runs and that’s exactly what we saw on day one, on a slow Gabba pitch that I think will quicken up as the game goes on.
What we saw was that Australia don’t have Mitchell Johnson’s fire and brimstone and that England don’t have that much to fear, though it will be hard on Friday morning with the new ball. Edges will also come into play as the deck speeds up.
What Australia did do well was keep the run rate in check – England didn’t get away from them so if they have a brilliant half-hour they could have England 230-6, 230-7 on day two.
I think Australia will go hard at England with a lot of short-pitched bowling, especially to Moeen Ali, who got the nod over Jonny Bairstow at No 6.
I would have gone for Bairstow as he deserves to bat as high as he can and Moeen bats exceptionally well with the tail but it’s not a big issue.
Malan is with Moeen at the moment and he showed he has got a bit about him – it wasn’t easy for the left-hander with Nathan Lyon turning the ball.
Australia were saying ‘who is this England team?’ so it’s nice for Malan, Vince and Stoneman to make sizeable contributions, albeit in a place where it is great to bat.
There are no demons in the pitches so if you bat well you will get runs. England need a fair few more on Friday.