England captain Joe Root is checked by a team medical officer after being hit by a delivery from Australia's Mitchell Starc during the third day of the first Ashes Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane, Australia, on November 25, 2017. Picture: REUTERS
England captain Joe Root is checked by a team medical officer after being hit by a delivery from Australia's Mitchell Starc during the third day of the first Ashes Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane, Australia, on November 25, 2017. Picture: REUTERS

Brisbane — Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc says there are encouraging signs for Australia in the Ashes Test series after winning the early battles with England’s top batting duo Joe Root and Alastair Cook at the Gabba.

At the end of the fourth day on Sunday, the Australians were sailing to apparent victory in the first Test, just 56 runs away with 10 wickets in hand, after restricting skipper Root to a second-innings half-century and twice dismissing senior batsman Cook cheaply.

Much depended on Root in the second innings after he was out for 15 on the first day, but he perished lbw for 51.

Former skipper Cook scored just two and seven and faced a total of only 24 balls.

"It’s still a long way to go in the series, but encouraging signs for us," Starc said after day four.

"We knew the two guys in their line-up we’d have to keep quiet throughout the series, being so experienced and important in their line-up.

"Cookie has scored 10 runs or something over two innings… a big plus for us there.

"Joe, we’ve found a way to get him out both innings.

"Conditions will change as we go to different places in Australia, but it’s a great start with the first Test."

Starc, who took three wickets in each innings, said he was delighted to have had to bowl a total of just 44 overs in the first Test, leaving him well placed for the second Test in Adelaide starting on Saturday.

"It’s a good feeling knowing that when I wake up in the morning I won’t have to bowl," he said. "It won’t be an issue backing up: all good."

The decision by Australia’s selectors to pick just four front-line bowlers puts a lot of pressure on the pace trio, but Starc said there were no concerns.

"I think we bowled 50 overs every Test match last summer. I don’t see why it’s any different this summer," he said.

"I expect it to be the same squad and hopefully the same line-up going into Adelaide."

Starc praised the contribution of off-spinner Nathan Lyon at the Gabba after he finished with five wickets in the match.

"He’s been fantastic. He’s obviously had a bit to say over the last couple of weeks but he has backed it up with the ball," Starc said.

"He’s enjoying himself out on the field and he’s backing it up with his bowling.

"He’s been bowling so well at one end, which allows us [fast bowlers] to come from the other end in short, sharp spells.

"He’s been great for us, and he’s got a few rewards over the course of two innings."

AFP

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