BRISBANE, Australia (Reuters) – England were left to regret their decision to pick spinner Jack Leach ahead of seamer Stuart Broad as Australia tightened their grip on the opening Ashes test on Thursday.
The hosts had taken the upper hand after routing England for 147 and they dominated day two, which they finished on 343-7 nL1N2SU03O for a burgeoning first-innings lead of 196 at the Gabba.
Left-arm spinner Leach could not justify his selection and gave up 95 runs in his 11 overs for the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne before being taken off the attack.
The decision to drop veteran Broad to accommodate Leach had surprised many but bowling coach Jon Lewis would not say they got their bowling combination wrong.
“We felt it was the right decision at that time,” he said.
“If we’d bowled to the best of our ability, we’d have put Australia under a bit more pressure than they were today.”
“We’re definitely not defeated yet. Expect Jack to come back strong tomorrow and show the character I know he has.”
England’s frontline seamers, especially Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood, bowled with lot of heart but all-rounder Ben Stokes sent down only nine overs having hurt his knee.
Playing his first competitive match since July, Stokes struggled for rhythm and over-stepped more than a dozen times even though it went undetected by the on-field umpires.
Lewis could not confirm if Stokes would bowl his full allocation of overs in the remainder of the match.
“Obviously Ben has hurt himself on the field today so didn’t bowl full pace at the back end of the day,” Lewis said.
“We’ll assess him overnight and see how he pulls up in the morning.”
Australia scored at above four-an-over and even when the England seamers created opportunities, their sloppy fielding let them down.
David Warner, who scored 94, was the beneficiary on three occasions.
Warner was on 17 when Stokes bowled him with what turned out to be a no ball. Robinson created another opportunity when Warner was on 60 but Rory Burns spilled the ball in the slip.
The batsman could also have been run out but Haseeb Hameed’s hurried throw from short leg was wide off the mark.
“There were periods when Australia got on top of us and we are frustrated to have missed some opportunities,” Lewis said.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, Editing by Ken Ferris)