Mitchell Starc took out the right stump of Rory Burns to give Australia the perfect start to the Ashes series on Wednesday, also handing England a Gabba moment to rank alongside Steve Harmison’s opening delivery of the 2006/7 series. Starc’s first ball of the match was as good as Harmison’s was poor, a full yorker which went behind the legs of hapless England opener Burns and swung into the base of his stumps to trigger pandemonium in the Brisbane crowd.
It was vindication for left-arm paceman Starc after his place in Australia’s much-vaunted pace attack was called into question in the run-up to the series. “I know there’s been some negativity around about Mitchell Starc, but that`s what he does, he takes wickets with the new ball,” former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said in commentary for Channel 7. “Whether it be a red ball or a white ball, if he gets it right he’s a wicket taking machine.”
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 8, 2021
It was the second time a wicket had fallen on the opening delivery of an Ashes series. In 1936, Australia’s Ernie McCormick had Stan Worthington caught behind at the same ground to give Don Bradman the best possible start to his first match as captain.
Bleary-eyed England fans watching on TV at home might cling to the fact that the tourists went on to win that match, a repeat of which would go some way to ease the fear that the dismissal of Burns will be series-defining. That was certainly the case after fast bowler Harmison’s opening ball of the 2006 Gabba Test.
The tourists had arrived in Australia apparently brimming with confidence after wresting back the Ashes in the thrilling 2005 series in England, where Harmison had been one of the home side’s best performers.
Tossed the ball to open the series, Harmison charged in at Justin Langer and produced a delivery that ended up in the hands of skipper Andrew Flintoff at second slip. Harmison took just 10 wickets over the series as Australia blanked England 5-0 to reclaim the urn.
(with Reuters inputs)