Hobart, January 14: Australia's Travis Head struck a century to punish England on a rain-affected opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.
The hosts, who have an unassailable 3-0 lead, finished Friday on 241-6 having earlier been reduced to 12-3 by an England side who won the toss and chose to bowl first.
England showed five changes from last week's drawn fourth Test in Sydney, including a debut for Sam Billings, and started in an impressive manner.
David Warner (0), Usman Khawaja (6) and Steve Smith (0) all went by the start of the 10th over, while Marnus Labuschagne would have followed had Zak Crawley not fumbled.
The 700th player to represent our Men's Test team.January 14, 2022
That may well prove a decisive moment in the final Test as Labuschagne and Head launched a counter-attack by scoring 53 runs from the next seven overs.
But on 71 from 72 balls, Labuschagne comically wrong-footed himself when attacking a Stuart Broad delivery and could only watch from the floor as Australia lost another wicket.
England lost bowler Ollie Robinson to injury and their problems were compounded by the work of Head, who continued to rack up the runs when joined by Cameron Green.
Head survived a big scare on his way to reaching 101 from 113 balls, but his day was ended after he chipped a Chris Woakes delivery to Robinson at mid-on.
Green got to 74 before holing out at deep mid-wicket and only nine more balls were bowled due to rain, with Mitch Starc (0) and Alex Carey (10) to resume play on Saturday.
Travis keeps his Head after Crawley loses his
England could not have asked for a much better start on the green surface, with Robinson and Broad dismantling Australia's top order by dismissing Warner and Smith for ducks.
But Crawley's drop of Labuschagne, combined with England's wayward bowling from that point on, allowed Head – recently sidelined due to COVID-19 isolation – to grab the fifth Test by the scruff of the neck.
He went past the 100 mark, becoming the seventh Australian to do so in a day/night men's Test innings after Warner, Labuschagne, Khawaja, Smith, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb.
Green shoots of recovery
Australia all-rounder Green had a maiden hundred in his sights, only to fall to Mark Wood's short-ball trap 16 runs shot of three figures.
At 22 years and 225 days, he is the youngest player to score 50 or more runs in a men's Test innings for Australia at Bellerive Oval and the fourth youngest overall at the ground.