James Anderson and Mark Wood hit back late on a rain-marred opening day to give beleaguered England some hope in the fourth Ashes Test at Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
Australia, holding an unassailable 3-0 series lead, looked in a strong position at 111/1 before pacers Anderson and Wood struck in the space of seven balls.
At the close, after only 46.5 overs were possible following four rain interruptions, Australia were 126/3 with Steve Smith on six and Usman Khawaja, playing in his first Test since 2019, not-out four.
Marcus Harris, coming off his 76 in Melbourne, batted obdurately for his 38 off 109 balls before he was stuck on the crease and nicked Anderson to Joe Root at slip.
In the next over Wood, charging in, got the prized wicket of Marnus Labuschagne for 28, leaving Australia at 117-3.
Wood angled one back off a length and Labuschagne, looking to defend from the crease, edged to Jos Buttler in a crucial double breakthrough for England – and put Australia under pressure.
“Two massive wickets. You want to try and test yourself against the best players,” Wood said.
“I feel like I have bowled well but haven’t got the wickets I would have liked. A bit of good luck and important to make them play as much as possible. Thankfully, I made Marnus play at that ball and found the edge.”
Earlier, the recalled Stuart Broad again proved David Warner’s nemesis, enticing a thick edge to Zak Crawley at second slip for 30.
It was the 13th time in Ashes Tests Broad had snared his “bunny” Warner after tempting him to drive at a shorter delivery.
“He’s very consistent, holds his length well and tries to create that false shot,” Warner said of his battle with Broad.
“Today I tried to drive the ball too straight, where the other ones I drove through the covers were a bit squarer. But it is awesome just to see Broady back out there. You want to face a world-class bowler and to have him and Jimmy Anderson bowling at us is great.”
Broad – who has not played a full part in this series – dominated Warner during the 2019 Ashes in England, tormenting the experienced opener from around the wicket and dismissing him seven times in the space of 104 balls.
Warner, who looked in good nick following scores of 94 and 95 earlier in this series, had a big moment on 21 when he edged Ben Stokes just past the outstretched hand of Crawley in the slips for one of his six fours.
His dismissal came just four balls before the third rain break of the day and sent players from the field with Australia 56-1.
Australia, chasing their fourth consecutive win of the series, had won the toss and chose to bat.
The Ashes are already gone for Root’s England after going down by an innings and 14 runs inside three days in the third Test at Melbourne to give Australia a 3-0 lead with two Tests to play.
It followed heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, where batting collapses, poor fielding and questionable selections cost the tourists dearly.
The Sydney Test was a milestone for Root, leading England for a record 60th Test – passing Alastair Cook’s captaincy mark of 59 games in charge.
“I want us to keep working really hard at all facets of the game,” Root said at the toss of England’s challenge in the remaining two ‘dead’ Tests of the series.
“It’s important that we keep believing and understand that things do change in time. We’ve got to be strong and resilient and take those chances.”
England’s last Test win in Australia was at the SCG in January 2011.