Desperate to put up a performance after losing the urn in an innings defeat at Melbourne, England lost the toss and were invited to bowl first under gloomy skies at the SCG.
But David Warner and Marcus Harris held the fort well to reach 30 without loss in 12.3 overs, spread across two passages of play between showers.
With a tinge of live grass on the pitch, there was genuine encouragement for the reunited opening pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, recalled after missing two of the first three Tests.
The first ball of the innings gave England further cause for optimism, Anderson’s opening delivery leaping off a good length and rapping Warner on the glove.
That proved something of a red herring, though, with no further unnatural bounce to aid Anderson’s swing. Broad, described by assistant coach Graham Thorpe as a ‘caged tiger’ coming into the match, was unable to generate any real movement initially and was driven heartily through the covers as Warner settled in.
Midway through the fifth over the forecast rain arrived, forcing the teams off with Australia on eight without loss. Another eight-over mini-session was possible before a second rain break, with Australia again coming through unscathed and increasingly comfortable.
Anderson made life difficult for the openers when he went round the wicket but Warner was warming to the task, cracking another extra-cover drive and then pushing the seamer straight back down the ground for four more.
Harris was beaten on the outside edge by Broad but responded by pulling a short ball to the mid-wicket ropes. Mark Wood was summoned to bring some extra pace to proceedings but managed just three deliveries before the rain returned.
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