NASSER HUSSAIN: As an England fan I wanted Joe Root to lose the toss

NASSER HUSSAIN: As an England fan I wanted Joe Root to lose the toss. He would have known idiots like me have bowled first at the Gabba and been remembered for it… it’s forgotten if you bat first and get it wrong, but rarely if you field

  • England were skittled out for just 147 on the first day of the Ashes in Australia 
  • Joe Root won the toss and he elected to bat on a green surface at The Gabba 
  • Both captains would have chosen to bat but it was a ‘good toss to lose’ scenario

Before we condemn Joe Root for making the wrong decision at the toss it should be remembered that both captains as the coin went up were going to have a bat.

It was a classic ‘good toss to lose’ scenario because Root and Cummins would have known history told them they should probably take first knock but, looking down at the pitch, their instinct would have been to bowl. That was the issue.

As I said in before the first Test, Root had to forget about what has happened in the past at the Gabba and do what he felt was right on the day.

Joe Root (right) won the toss for England and they elected to bat on the first day of the Ashes

Root (left) was dismissed for a duck and a flawless Australia skittled England out for just 147

Sportsmail’s Nasser Hussain (second from right, pictured at the Ashes in 2002) chose to bowl first after winning the toss at the Gabba in Brisbane and it backfired on him and England

Sometimes you can complicate these things and I certainly did that all those years ago when I tried to reinvent the wheel at Brisbane by bowling first when conditions demanded I should bat. That turned out to be the wrong decision but 147 all out tells you Root got it wrong by batting this time.

I wanted Root, as an England fan, to lose the toss. I could see the mind-games unfolding in front of me in the build-up to it. He would have known that idiots like me have bowled first at the Gabba and been remembered for it for the rest of their career. It can be forgotten if you bat first and get it wrong but rarely if you bowl.

So those thoughts were sitting on one of Joe’s shoulders but on the other he would have seen a green pitch, rain around and knowing he has a strong bowling line-up and fragile batting. That battle over what to do would have been going on in his mind.

Why did both captains want to bat? They were thinking not just about how the pitch looked on the first day but also how it might develop as the game goes on. And they would know that with a soft pitch on day one indentations would be created and it will quicken up as the game goes on.

They would have been thinking about what would happen if the sun comes out and, with the humidity in Brisbane, the probability of cracks widening. You have to think of the second innings as well as a captain ahead of a Test. There are so many grey areas.

England certainly looked nervous. We have seen it so many times on the first day of an Ashes Test in Brisbane. Whether it was Michael Slater cutting Phil DeFreitas first ball, or Steve Harmison bowling his first delivery straight to second slip, or me bowling first when I should have batted. There is always a story and this one was Rory Burns.

Both captains would have chosen to bat first and it was a classic ‘good toss to lose’ scenario

This was the sixth time Burns has been out for a duck in Tests this year so he’s obviously a nervous starter and when you are under pressure your technical frailties get exaggerated.

And the Surrey opener’s frailty when under pressure is that his front foot goes across to the off side far too much. Bowlers have succeeded against him before with a full delivery first up aimed at his pads and I think Mitchell Starc was just trying to go full and straight to trap Burns in front.

Burns went so far across – the freeze frame at the moment Starc delivers the ball shows his front foot at least six inches from where it should be – he left his leg-stump exposed and immediately with that wicket the pressure was ramped up on England.

And it meant Starc, who was said to be under pressure for his place by some pundits going into the Test, was straight into the game with his tail up. It was the Gabbatoir all over again and England were chasing the game from the off.

It can often be more egregious to elect to bowl first and that prove a mistake than to bat first 

The most important wicket, of course, was that of Root not just for this first Test but also the series. The England captain basically tried to remodel his game after the last Ashes because Cummins and Josh Hazlewood had got him out so many times. So for Australia to get him for a duck after all the success Root has had since then was massive.

It was noticeable Cummins brought himself on the moment Root came to the crease because he has dismissed him seven times before in two Ashes series.

But it was Hazlewood who got him with an excellent bit of bowling and he has now dismissed the England captain eight times, leaving Root still having to prove he can succeed against his dual nemesis after all the technical work he has done.

Australia didn’t put a foot wrong. They caught brilliantly and Cummins, on his first day as Australia captain, got everything right, not least losing that toss!

So a bad day for England but Australia have frailties with the bat too and this first day does not have to be terminal. How England bowl with the new ball on day two will be absolutely crucial.

Cameron Green is mobbed by team-mates as Australia dominated proceedings at The Gabba

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