Broad's omission from first Ashes Test mind-boggling

POOR DECISION: English bowler Stuart Broad should have been selected in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

POOR DECISION: English bowler Stuart Broad should have been selected in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

England's decision to leave Stuart Broad out of the first Test was mind-boggling and a key factor in Australia making a flying start in this Ashes series.

Already without the injured James Anderson, the tourists had to play Broad in the swing, seam-friendly conditions in Brisbane.

Broad bowls well to left-handers and has a psychological edge over David Warner, who rode his luck at the Gabba to score 94.

Despite nursing sore ribs, the NSW opener will be in a confident frame of mind this week when Anderson and Broad return in Adelaide.

Without the veteran pace duo, England's attack toiled manfully at the Gabba and the tourists were unlucky the breaks did not go their way at key stages in the game.

Ollie Robinson was the pick of the bowlers, maintaining a consistent line and length to trouble the Australians.

Mark Wood generated genuine pace, but Chris Woakes continued his poor run in Australia and lacked penetration.

Jack Leach copped plenty of punishment, particularly from Travis Head, and it will be interesting to see if the spinner plays in Adelaide, where England might be tempted to go with an all-pace attack.

The bowlers were let down by sloppy catching and fielding, an area England will need to improve to challenge Australia.

Batting fragile in both teams

Joe Root made the correct decision to win the toss and bat, but the England captain was let down by inept batting at the top of the order.

Australian captain Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc exploited the pace-friendly conditions perfectly on the first day, as they exposed cracks in England's fragile line-up.

Rory Burns failed twice and fellow opener Haseeb Hameed was unable to capitalise after working hard in both innings.

Led by Root and Dawid Malan, England showed admirable grit in the second innings, but 147 in the first innings and losing 8-74 on the final day left the tourists way short of the mark.

Australia's batting line-up appears slightly stronger, but there are lingering questions.

Opener Marcus Harris has yet to secure his spot after another first-innings failure, while Broad's return for the second Test will provide a big challenge for Warner.

Cameron Green broke through for his first Test wicket and snared the prize scalp of Root in the second innings, but despite his potential as a batsman, he remains unconvincing at No. 6.

Alex Carey failed twice with the bat, but made an excellent Test debut behind the stumps, taking a record-equalling eight catches.

Nathan Lyon bowled well in England's second innings to reach the milestone of 400 Test wickets and he has a good record in Adelaide.

Head, Starc justify selection

JUSTIFICATION: Travis Head's player of the match performance justified his selection in the Australian Test team. Picture: Matt Roberts - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images

JUSTIFICATION: Travis Head's player of the match performance justified his selection in the Australian Test team. Picture: Matt Roberts - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Head and Starc repaid the selectors' faith with significant contributions towards Australia's victory.

Head confirmed the contentious decision to pick him ahead of Usman Khawaja, with a superb 152, his first Ashes ton, to earn the player-of-the-match award.

Coming to the crease after the dismissal of Steve Smith, the South Australian left-hander held the innings together impressively, as he belted the tiring England attack with a blistering hundred in the final session of day two.

After a shaky start, he was aggressive and batted well with the tail, combining with Starc in an 85-run stand for the eighth wicket before the New South Welshman was dismissed for a handy 35.

Starc set the tone with the first ball of the match to knock over Burns with a superb delivery.

The left-arm paceman will need to bowl better than he did in the second innings, but he should perform well in Adelaide, where the pink ball should hoop around under the lights.

Cricket Australia's WA whack well-timed

Cricket Australia has copped more than its fair share of criticism this summer, particularly over the unfortunate demise of former Test skipper Tim Paine, so CA should be lauded when it is deserved.

CA was correct in deciding to reject Perth's bid to host an Ashes Test because of WA's strict border protection laws that would have required players, officials and media to stay in quarantine for 14 days after travelling from the previous game in Sydney.

Unlike the AFL, which acquiesced meekly to the demands of the McGowan government in WA to enable this year's grand final to be played at Optus Stadium, CA was unmoved.

After being knocked back to host next month's Test, the belligerent response from WA government ministers was comical.

Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti made the ridiculous call to swap the dates of the Perth and Adelaide Tests - that was never going to happen - and Police Minister Paul Papalia blasted CA for being "completely inflexible".

Maybe Papalia should have a good look at himself and his government in the mirror.

Having lived in Perth for more than two years, the parochialism and isolationist views prevailing in WA are hardly surprising.

For years, there has been talk of secession from the rest of Australia and the state government's intransigent attitude on dealing with the virus is a confirmation of WA's paranoia and arrogance.

CA's decision to give Hobart its first Ashes Test was also the right move.

While the MCG and SCG would have attracted bigger crowds, cricket under lights at Blundstone Arena will be spectacular and suit the broadcasters perfectly.

Has Howard got it right? Email: howardkotton11@gmail.com; Twitter: @hpkotton59