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Washout fears ease as Ashes crowd greeted by sun - and wickets

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Australian and English cricketers have been greeted by blue skies in Brisbane as the threat of rain spoiling the first Ashes Test eased – but the day soon turned gloomy for the visitors as Australia made a dream start to the series.

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Persistent heavy rain for the last month encouraged by the La Nina weather pattern had hampered preparations for both sides, while long-range forecasts pointed to a soggy Gabba this week.

But only afternoon showers are forecast on Wednesday, with the radar indicating a small amount of rain could fall on each of the next five days.

Australia made a dream start to the opening session, with paceman Mitchell Starc taking a wicket with the very first ball of the Ashes series when he bowled English opener Rory Burns around his legs.

Worse was to come for the visitors as Josh Hazelwood claimed two more wickets, including that of captain Joe Root, to leave them three down at the first drinks break, having won the toss and elected to bat.

England suffered another blow when superstar all-rounder Ben Stokes fell just after the drinks break.

Gabba ground staff have also enjoyed sunny conditions over the past few days to prepare a pitch that, as is tradition on day one, should still offer plenty to the bowlers.

Australia retained the Ashes thanks to a 2-2 draw in England in 2019, while the tourists haven’t won a series in Australia for a decade.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey will debut and Travis Head will return to Australia’s middle order after beating Usman Khawaja in the selection race, while England have left out veteran Jimmy Anderson but are yet to settle on their XI.

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