England’s Stuart Broad became just the fifth bowler to take 600 Test wickets as Australia ended Wednesday’s opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford on 299-8.
Marnus Labuschagne and Mitchell Marsh each made 51 after England captain Ben Stokes won the toss in a must-win match to keep their dreams of regaining the Ashes alive.
Chris Woakes led England’s pace attack with 4-52 in 18.5 overs while Broad took 2-68 in 14 en route to the landmark when he had Travis Head caught in the deep.
Broad, when asked how it felt to join Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800 Test wickets), Australia’s Shane Warne (708), England’s James Anderson (688), and India’s Anil Kumble (619) in a select group, replied, “Never did I think I would be up there with the greats of the game.”
He also paid tribute to longstanding team-mate Anderson by saying, “I’ve been so lucky to play with him and be born in the same era as him.”
Anderson was the only change to the England side that won the third Test at Headingley by three wickets.
On his Lancashire home ground a fortnight short of his 41st birthday, Anderson had a frustrating day. England’s all-time leading Test bowler with 688 wickets, had figures of 0-43 in 17 overs.
History is against England. No side has won a Test at Old Trafford after winning the toss and bowling.
“Anything with a three in front of it is alright,” said Labuschagne of Australia’s total at the close.
“Where we were [at 183-3], and how many guys got themselves in, I think we would be slightly disappointed with no-one getting a big score,” he added.
Austraia opener David Warner’s place had been called into question after he twice fell to Broad, who has dismissed him 17 times in Tests, for a total of just five runs at Headingley.
But from the first ball of this match, Warner thrashed a wide Broad delivery for four.
Broad, however, moved to 599 Test wickets when he had Usman Khawaja, Australia’s other opener, lbw for three.
Woakes struck next to end a second-wicket stand of 46 when Warner was caught behind off an edged drive, following an assured 32.
The next delivery saw star batter Steve Smith top-edge a pull off Woakes that just cleared Mark Wood at fine leg before going for four.
An increasingly confident Smith drove off-spinner Moeen Ali for a straight six.
Having made 41, Smith was lbw to express quick Wood.
Head was struck on the helmet by a Wood bouncer early in his innings and again looked uncomfortable against the short ball.
But he battled through and it was Labuschagne, who fell next when, one ball after completing his fifty, he was lbw to Moeen – the only specialist spinner on either side after Australia dropped Todd Murphy.
Australia were 187-4 at tea only to lose Head five balls after the resumption as Broad took his 600th Test wicket.
Left-hander Head had made 48 when he hooked at a Broad bouncer and Joe Root held a low catch as he ran in from the boundary at fine leg.
Marsh, who had marked his first Test since 2019 with a hundred at Headingley, again made England pay for any loose deliveries during a stand of 65 with fellow all-rounder Cameron Green.
Their partnership was broken when the recalled Green was trapped lbw by an accurate Woakes.
Australia’s 254-6 became 255-7 when Marsh edged Woakes and Jonny Bairstow, whose wicketkeeping has proved fallible this series, held a superb one-handed diving catch as he changed direction.
The crowd roared in celebration as Marsh departed after hitting seven fours and a six in a quickfire stay of 60 balls.
Alex Carey fell to the new ball, caught behind off Woakes trying to withdraw his bat, with Mitchell Starc 23 not out at the close.
England have won 13 of their last 16 Tests at Old Trafford but have not enjoyed an Ashes victory at the Manchester ground since Ian Botham hit a celebrated hundred in 1981.