HOBART: Travis Head scored a magnificent century to put Australia in command at stumps on the first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test against England as rain forced an early close in Hobart on Friday.
At the close of play, Australia were 241-6, with Alex Carey on 10 and Mitchell Starc on zero after being sent in by English captain Joe Root.
Only 7.3 overs were possible in the night session, with a persistent misty rain falling on the ground.
Head came to the crease with Australia reeling at 12-3, but counter-attacked brilliantly to reach his fourth Test century in just 112 balls, with 12 boundaries.
However, one ball after reaching his hundred in the day-night match, he chipped Chris Woakes to mid-off, where Ollie Robinson — who bowled only one over in the twilight session due to back soreness — took a simple catch.
It was Head’s second century of the series, a result he credited to a new attitude.
“I’ve definitely come into the series with an attitude and an expectation of what is required, and I’ve been able to go out and express myself in the manner as I see fit.
Head’s 101 was a superb response to a much-changed England’s complete dominance in the first 10 overs.
Root won the toss and sent the hosts in to bat in overcast conditions and on a real green-top of a wicket.
England, who have already lost the series, had Australia on the ropes at 12-3 after 10 overs, with Stuart Broad and Robinson almost unplayable in perfect bowling conditions.
They removed David Warner and Steve Smith for ducks and Usman Khawaja for six, and should have had Marnus Labuschagne, who was dropped by Zak Crawley, for no score.
However, the game swung back towards Australia when Head and Labuschagne launched a revival, attacking change bowlers Mark Wood and Woakes.
Wood has bowled well all series but his extra pace negated the conditions and Labuschagne and Head went on the attack.
Wood’s first three overs went for 31, while at the other end, Woakes also took some punishment, his first five overs costing 23 runs.
England bowling coach Jon Lewis said the ball changed as it got older and England’s bowling had dropped off.
“I thought we started fantastically, but I felt like the movement went out of the ball completely after 20 overs,” he said.
England won the toss
Australia 1st Innings
Warner c Crawley b Robinson 0
Khawaja c Root b Broad 6
Labuschagne b Broad 44
Smith c Crawley b Robinson 0
Head c Robinson b Woakes 101
Green c Crawley b Wood 74
Carey† not out 10
Starc not out 0
Extras: (b 3, lb 2, w 1) 6
Total: (59.3 Ov, RR: 4.05) 241/6
Yet to bat: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
Fall: 1-3, 5.6 ov 2-7, 8.6 ov 3-12, 9.5 ov 4-83, 22.1 ov 5-204, 48.5 ov 6-236, 57.6 ov
Bowling: Stuart Broad 18-4-48-2 Ollie Robinson 8-3-24-2 Mark Wood 11.3-0-79-1 Chris Woakes 12-1-50-1 Joe Root 10-1-35-0
England Team: Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Sam Billings†, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad,
Test Debut: Sam Billings (ENG)
Umpires: Paul Wilson, Rod Tucker
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