Wood takes five on comeback, Marsh smashes century on Day 1 of third Ashes Test

Day 1 of the third Ashes Test at Headingley began on a very lively note, with Mitchell Marsh and Mark Wood taking centre stage. Marsh smashed a scintillating century while Wood marked his return with a five-fer. At stumps, England were 68/3, trailing by 195 runs, after Australia were dismissed for 263 in their first innings in Leeds on Thursday.

As England and Australia fiercely competed to gain an advantage in the Headingley Test, Wood and Marsh stood out in their comeback to Test cricket, making it a memorable occasion.

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Marsh, playing his first Test match since 2019 due to Cameron Green’s hamstring injury, played a brilliant innings of 118 runs at a run-a-ball pace to help Australia recover from a shaky start. Wood, who returned to Test cricket for the first time since December last year, used his exceptional speed to great effect. He proved too difficult to handle for Australia’s lower order, causing them to lose six wickets in just 8.3 overs and be bowled out for 263.

Opting to bat first, Australia faced challenging conditions as England’s seamers capitalised on significant movement off the pitch. Stuart Broad dismissed David Warner, caught behind by the slip cordon, marking the 16th time Warner has fallen to Broad in Test cricket.

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Meanwhile, Wood bowled Usman Khawaja with a quick delivery clocked at 94.6 miles/hour, and Steve Smith entered the field for his 100th Test match. Labuschagne and Smith struggled against Woakes and Ollie Robinson, who consistently hit the right areas. Labuschagne eventually edged Woakes to Joe Root at first slip, and shortly after, Broad caught Smith behind the wickets after Smith wasted a review.

By lunch, Australia were four wickets down. After the break, Marsh appeared to be playing on a different pitch than his teammates, effortlessly hitting his shots.

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Marsh received a lifeline when Joe Root dropped a catch at first slip off Chris Woakes when he was on 12. From there, Marsh grew in confidence and maintained a run-a-ball scoring rate, with Travis Head providing solid support at the other end. The pair resurrected the Australian innings from 85/4 and took the team past 200. Head adopted a more cautious approach, while Marsh kept the pressure on England by scoring quickly.

Marsh reached his century off 102 balls, his third Test century against England. However, Woakes dismissed him caught at slips just before tea, breaking a mammoth 155-run partnership off 168 balls. Head fell soon after the break, with Woakes once again making the breakthrough. With the two set batsmen back in the pavilion, England unleashed Wood, who proceeded to dismantle the tail, taking four wickets in the next 14 balls, including dismissing Mitchell Starc and captain Pat Cummins in the same over.

In response, captain Cummins quickly dismissed Ben Duckett, who had scored two half-centuries at Lord’s, and Harry Brook. From a precarious 22/2, Zak Crawley and Joe Root stabilised England’s innings.

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However, Marsh continued his form with the ball, finding Crawley’s edge to dismiss him. Joe Root (19 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (1 not out) remained unbeaten at the close of play. England will look to take the lead in the first innings as the Ashes series hangs in the balance.

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