Steve Smith, who looked in imperious from the first ball of his innings to the second last, was out shortly after securing the first half-century of the summer.

Dancing down the pitch, Smith drilled a short one from Graeme Swann through the covers to bring up his half-ton, before edging a ball from Jimmy Anderson that just shaped away from the Sydneysider.

Swann, who came into the attack primarily to dislodge Phil Hughes, who got out five times to Ravi Ashwin during Australia’s recent series against India, claimed the scalp of the potentially destructive Grant Haddin.

The Aussie wicketkeeper, playing a forward defensive to a tempting delivery from Swann, was beat all ends up, as the ball turned prodigiously, connecting directly with the bails.

The hint of shape seen on the delivery that claimed Smith’s wicket, was soon obvious as England managed to coax reverse swing from the ball.

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Peter Siddle became Anderson’s next victim edging his second ball to Prior who took a superb one-handed diving catch low on to the right. Swann dropped a regulation catch at second slip from Mitchell Starc in the same over.

But the Aussie paceman was heading back to the hutch moments later, after he edged to Prior who took a comfortable catch at navel height.

Swann terrorised the Aussie tale, with three appeals for lbw against James Pattinson: Aleem Dar was unmoved by the first, which was going over off-stump, and the second, which was sliding past leg, but the third was plum, and the Sri Lankan’s finger was duly raised.

Pattison appealled, but to no avail, after Hawkeye showed the ball was going on to hit leg stump three quarters of the way up.

With that in stepped Ashton Agar for his first test match innings. The 19-year-old, perhaps feeling an alleviation of pressure given the performance of the tail, looked cooler than a frozen cucumber, and duly smashed Australia into the lead.

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Ashton Agar’s stunning fifty came off just 50 balls

It soon became clear the spinner was no number 11, showing great timing to hit Anderson back over the bowler’s head for four, paddling Swann around the corner, and pummelling Finn regularly to call corners. The tall Englishman finishing his spell with 32 runs off five overs.

The fifty partnership came off just 60 balls, with Agar drilling Swann through mid-on for four. The 19-year-old had a test match strike rate of 100 for much of his first innings.

He survived a good looking stumping review, with the third umpire deciding he’d just got a big toe down in time.

Agar soon secured the record for the biggest innings of a debut number 11 in the history of the game, a record that had stood since 1902, before notching up his first test match half-century off just 50 balls.

Hughes notched up his 50 soon after, nurdling a single to into the leg-side. Ashton Agar soon thereafter claimed the record for the biggest innings by a number 11 in Australian cricketing history, with a beautiful late cut which also brought the scores level.

Phil Hughes brought up the 100 partnership, and put Australia in the lead with a well-timed drive.

Day 1 video highlights | Live scorecard | Off Stumped blog

Australia – batting

    Runs Minutes Balls 4s 6s
Watson c Root b Finn 13 15 14 3 0
Rogers lbw b Anderson 16 70 37 2 0
Cowan c Swann b Finn 0   1 0 0
Clarke   b Anderson 0 12 6 0 0
Smith c Prior b Anderson 53 98 79 7 1
Hughes not out   63 178 105 8 0
Haddin   b Swann 1 3 2 0 0
Siddle c Prior b Anderson 1 2 5 0 0
Starc c Prior b Anderson 0 5 5 0 0
Pattinson lbw b Swann 2 7 8 0 0
Agar not out   69 90 68 9 2


England – bowling

Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Anderson 21.0 2 70 5
Finn 15.0 0 80 2
Swann 17.0 4 55 2
Broad 2.0 0 13 0