England boast 143-run lead at lunch

England took control of the Ashes opener early on day three, boasting nine wickets in hand and a 143-run lead at lunch in Cardiff.

Mitchell Starc dismissed Alastair Cook in the third last over of the session, but England eased to 1-21.

Cook’s field placings, coupled with disciplined and dazzling bowling, meant Australia were rolled for 308 in Friday’s morning session.

Shane Watson was trapped lbw amid a collapse of 6-50.

The flurry of wickets ended with Joe Root holding a finger to his lips after snaring a fantastic slips catch to dismiss Starc.

Starc had `shushed’ Ben Stokes after bowling the allrounder on day one.

The left-armer bowled two maidens on Friday, but was late to take the field and looked restricted at times due to a sore ankle.

“This is a real concern for the Australians,” Ricky Ponting said on Sky Sports.

“There’s obviously something going on there with the ankle.

“It’s unusual for him not to be out there, so there’s some sort of medical situation going on.”

The full extent of Starc’s niggle is yet to be revealed, but team medical staff will be cognisant of the fact there is only a three-day break between the first and second Test.

The tourists resumed at 5-264 on Friday, when Watson walked to the middle on 29 with the weight of expectation on his broad shoulders.

The allrounder had the perfect stage to rescue Australia after their top order faltered on day two, a real chance to silence critics who have lashed him for failing to cash in on immense potential.

It didn’t go to plan for the 34-year-old – at all.

Stuart Broad continued England’s plan of bowling straight at Watson and attacking his pads.

Broad needed three balls – and two lbw appeals – before umpire Marais Erasmus sent Watson on his way.

It was the 13th time in 36 innings against England that Watson had been dismissed lbw.

Watson reviewed the decision – something that generated equal parts mirth and vitriol on Twitter given it was a regular occurrence in the 2013 Ashes.

However it was a fair challenge as the review count was due to be reset in eight overs and the visitors had two in the bank.

Ball-tracking technology suggested it was barely flicking the top of leg stump, so the decision stood.

Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon went three overs later, plumb lbw to Mark Wood.

Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson put on a 39-run stand, but couldn’t reproduce their 114-run partnership that turned the first Test of the 2013-14 Ashes.

Jimmy Anderson and Broad troubled both with the second new ball.

Haddin was caught behind for 22, falling victim to a superb outswinger from Anderson.

Johnson then chipped a full ball from Broad straight to Gary Ballance at midwicket.

Watson might have jeopardised his place in the XI, given fellow allrounder Match Marsh posted a century in both of Australia’s tour games.

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