Stuart Broad shines but Alastair Cook continues to struggle

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The Independent Online

Stuart Broad was on a hat-trick in his first over of the Ashes tour - yet England ended day one against Western Australia regretting the early dismissal of one of their own openers.

The rattled hosts stumbled to nought for two, before half-centuries from opener Wes Robinson (62) and Adam Voges (72) aided the recovery to 242 for eight declared.

That left England with an awkward six overs of batting in mildly deteriorating light - too much for Alastair Cook, who could do with early runs down under to silence the doubters but was instead curiously bowled off his midriff as he attempted to pull Steve Magoffin.

WA captain Marcus North chose to bat first in this three-day match at the WACA, and it was he who accompanied Robinson in an important third-wicket stand of 42.

Voges then helped the opener add 87 more, and the tail had enough substance to defy England's best efforts and carry their team to an acceptable total on a predictably pacy pitch.

The tourists, or more specifically Broad (three for 47), could hardly have started this high-profile campaign any better.

He struck with only his fourth first-class ball in Australia, finding enough bounce to have Liam Davis edging to second slip on the back foot - Graeme Swann making no mistake with a neat catch, low to his left.

Michael Swart went first ball when he could not get out of the way of a short ball, and looped a catch off the glove to Paul Collingwood running in from third slip.

None other than North, noted for vulnerability early in his innings but currently being touted as a likely successor to Ricky Ponting as Australia Test captain, had to keep out the hat-trick ball in the second over of the morning.

Steven Finn replaced James Anderson at the Lillee-Marsh Stand end but struggled to find any consistency with his length.

He gave both left-handers occasionally awkward moments when he got it right but over-pitched alarmingly at times, driven straight back for four by Robinson in his first over and then serving up successive full-tosses in his next.

Broad took a break with new-ball figures of 6-3-6-2, the miserly Anderson switching ends only to fail to convince umpire Ian Lock he had Robinson caught behind.

Even Swann, famed for his uncanny knack of instant wickets, failed to part North and Robinson as England received an early lesson about the patience and hard work sure to be required this winter.

But Broad was not done with, and had North carving a back-foot edge to Swann high at second slip just before lunch.

Anderson and Swann might easily have won lbw decisions against Voges and Robinson respectively in early afternoon.

Instead, Robinson swept Swann for successive fours to the unguarded square-leg boundary and hoisted him over long-on for six too on the way to a painstaking 128-ball half-century.

It was only when Andrew Strauss turned to Collingwood to fill in some overs that the latter's part-time medium-pace immediately brought Robinson's wicket, via a return catch.

After tea, Anderson was repaid for his discipline with the old ball when Luke Pomersbach edged a flat-footed drive behind.

Voges then contributed to his own downfall only four runs later, taking off for an unwise single to cover and beaten to the non-striker's end by a direct hit from Collingwood.

It was an anti-climactic end to a stylish 129-ball stay, containing 10 boundaries, but fair reward for England's determination.

Luke Ronchi stayed long enough to expose a rusty Finn's apparent limitations but followed a straight-driven four and hook for six off successive deliveries from England's tall seamer by cutting the next for a catch at gully.

Swann nabbed a heartening late wicket too, Ryan Duffield edging an attempted cut behind, and a canny declaration came after just two overs with the second new ball - much to Cook's ultimate regret as England closed on 10 for one.