On another sensational day of Ashes action, the pendulum swinging this way and that, it was difficult to call who had the advantage as England finished day one of the pivotal third Test on 68-3, having bowled Australia out for 263 at Headingley.
Thursday’s action had everything. A boisterous crowd keen to let their feelings be known that they still feel wronged from a controversial second test at Lord’s, missed chances, returning heroes, big hitting, a superb century and 13 wickets.
But it remains anyone’s game. Forgotten man Mitchell Marsh’s hundred had dragged the tourists back into the contest after they had been struggling on 85-4, before a blistering spell of bowling from Mark Wood had the crowd off their seats.
Wood’s first international five-wicket haul in England, on his first appearance in the format this year, helped the hosts take the final six Australian wickets for 23 runs.
At that point, England looked to be in the ascendancy in a match they have to win to prevent Australia retaining the Ashes with two games to spare.
However, the dismissals of both openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, along with new number three Harry Brook, before the close of play left the hosts feeling like they had missed another opportunity in this tightly-contested series
Back from injury, Wood showed no rustiness in a hostile first spell, where he took the wicket of Usman Khawaja (13) with a 95 mph ball that broke the stump.
Stuart Broad already had David Warner’s number for the 16th time in his test career, finding the opener’s edge in the first over to send him packing for four runs before Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne (21), who has struggled to find his best form, fell.
The key wicket of Steve Smith (22) before lunch had England firmly in command but Marsh, playing in first test for Australia since 2019 in place of the injured Cameron Green, came in from the cold to put the tourists in the driving seat once more.
His third test century, all of which have come against England, in a 155-run partnership with Travis Head, left the famously feisty Western Terrace stand flat, before Marsh (118) was caught in the final over before tea.
Marsh was dropped on 12, one of five good chances put down by England, but Wood’s final spell, where he took four wickets for five runs from 16 balls again shifted the momentum in the hosts’ favour.
Bowling out captain Pat Cummins and forcing wicketkeeper Alex Carey into a hook shot that was caught pleased the crowd, who have not forgotten the role both played in the controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow in the second test at Lord’s, an incident England insisted was not in the “spirit of the game”.
Despite his every touch of the ball being booed, Cummins remained undeterred, taking the wickets of opener Duckett (2) and Brook (3) early in the England innings before Crawley (33) gave all-rounder Marsh his first wicket of the game.
Local lads Joe Root and Bairstow steered England through to the close without any further damage, setting things up nicely for another breathless day on Friday.