Read below to find out how the action unfolded.
Good morning everyone! It's time for the talking to finally stop. England and Australia are ready to go as another thrilling summer prepares to get underway with the beginning of the first Ashes Test in Cardiff. Just over 18 months ago England returned home after being embarrassed by Australia, who cruised to a 5-0 whitewash. Who will be celebrating with that little urn at The Oval next month?
ENGLAND WIN THE TOSS AND BAT FIRST: Alastair Cook wins the first head-to-head of the morning by winning the toss and he will soon be out in the middle to open the batting with Adam Lyth. It looks like a good decision to me. More grass has been taken off the pitch in recent days, so bowling first would have been a risk. Michael Clarke confirms that he would have opted to bat.
ENGLAND: Cook, Lyth, Ballance, Bell, Root, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, Broad, Wood, Anderson
AUSTRALIA: Warner, Rogers, Smith, Clarke, Voges, Watson, Haddin, Johnson, Starc, Hazlewood, Lyon
In truth, there's not really any surprises from either side. Gary Ballance and Ian Bell were both in poor form against New Zealand, but there was never a chance of either player missing out in this match. The weather in recent days made the selection of two spinners unlikely, and Moeen Ali keeps out Adil Rashid to retain his spot.
The signs throughout the week have suggested that Shane Watson would be handed a spot in the middle order, despite the pressure from Mitchell Marsh, who scored two centuries in the warm-up games but is left out of the team this morning. Josh Hazlewood joins Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson in an impressive seam attack as Australia move on following the retirement of the fantastic Ryan Harris.
After winning the toss, Cook said: "It's been a really good summer for us so far. Now we have to start again against a very good side.
"I've got a huge amount of faith in our players. There's some talented players in our team."
In the dark days of English cricket, fans couldn't have dreamed of winning three home Ashes series in a row, but they come into this meeting looking for a fourth successive home triumph. Australia will be desperate to end that run. The tourists have won just one of their last 14 Test matches in England.
The Ashes, or even this match, will not be won this morning, but the action over the first few hours could set the tone for the rest of the series. Australia will be keen to expose the likes of Ballance and Bell early on. It should be a testing first session for England. If they come through it in decent condition, they will be confident of reaching a big total.
Oh dear. It was drizzling a little bit earlier, but the rain is coming down now and the covers are on in Cardiff. Let's hope it will be just a quick shower! There shouldn't be much of a delay.
The covers are off again and the umpires are on their way out. Both sides will follow closely behind for the pre-match handshakes and national anthems, and then finally, it will be time for cricket!
On what is surely his last trip to England as a Test captain, Clarke will be keen to enjoy success in this country for the first time. At the toss, the visiting skipper said: "We have experience, a lot of guys have played in these conditions. We have to play our best cricket against a very good team in their own back yard."
The pre-match musical number are over, but the anthems are still to come. Considering we've already lost a few minutes, it is dragging on a bit!
The three national anthems (Welsh, Australian & English) have been played and the handshakes are finally out of the way. Sledging has dominated the build-up, but one thing is certain, these guys won't be exchanging many pleasantries over the next five Tests.
Play will start at 11.15am.
Here we go then. 10 years after the greatest series ever played was won by England, just over 18 months after Australia celebrated a whitewash, and we are ready for another Ashes clash. England vs. Australia. It doesn't get much better than this. Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth open the batting. Mitchell Starc will bowl the first ball. Play!
Starc's first ball is back of a length at 87mph, but there's not much carry through to Brad Haddin and the pitch is unlikely to be very quick over the next five days. Lyth leaves the first two alone before being beaten by one that keeps very low. That's not a great sign in the opening over. A couple of deliveries bounce before getting to Haddin. The pitch is going to be the subject of debate today. Maiden.
It's Hazlewood, rather than Johnson, who shares the new ball with Starc. He really should suit English conditions.
Cook gets the scoring underway with a nudge into the off-side for one off the second ball of the over. Hazlewood finds a good spot to Lyth, who picks up a couple when a thick outside edge sends the ball racing past gully. A straighter ball allows Lyth to clip four runs through square-leg as Hazlewood strays off target.
WICKET! LYTH (6) C WARNER B HAZLEWOOD
Hazlewood strikes with the final ball of the second over! Lyth is looking to turn the ball onto the leg-side, but an edge brings gully into play and David Warner takes a very good low catch. Crucial early strike for Australia.
Haddin does well to take one down the leg-side when Starc loses his length midway through the over. Cook looks comfortable as he watches the left-arm seamer search for the right areas. Maiden over. The focus turns to Gary Ballance, who will be keen to relieve the pressure on his shoulders with some runs in the first innings.
Hazlewood was just battling to find the right line before that breakthrough in the previous over, but he looks to be in a better rhythm now. Ballance's technique is sure to be tested against the extra pace of Johnson later. A nervy flirt outside off-stump results in an edge earning him four runs through third-man.
Starc has bowled just two overs but he's out of the attack as Clarke turns to Johnson. Will he be the star of this series? He starts with a very full length to Cook, who nudges a full-toss into the covers for a couple before rotating the strike with a single. Ballance vs. Johnson could be a key clash. The Yorkshire number three is still batting so far back in his crease but he keeps a full one out to earn a run. Cook steals the strike with a single off the last ball.
Dear Mr Hazlewood, on a pitch lacking pace my advice would be to not bowl short Cook. The England skipper quickly picks up the length of half-tracker to lean back and pull powerfully for four runs. Cook then fights the temptation to play at a wider one from the seamer.
Good, aggressive bowling from Johnson, who follows a full delivery with a 90mph bouncer which hits the shoulder of the bat and Ballance's arm. You get the feeling that Ballance's form is down to time spent on the crease. If he manages to see out 40-50 balls, he becomes comfortable very quickly. A single hands the strike to Cook and he manages to pick the gap on the leg-side to earn another run.
Hazlewood finds a bit of movement to bring one back into Cook, who gets an important inside edge on the ball to pick up four through fine-leg. Another run follows wide of the helpless Warner at gully, before Ballance beats Lyon at leg-gully to earn a couple. Hazlewood is looking good but England are doing a decent job of keeping the scoreboard ticking over early on.
Johnson has Cook in two minds with an out-swinger, but the England skipper when a late decision to leave results in the ball running away for four off the face of the bat. Cook leaves a couple of good ones that nip away from the off-stump before pulling to deep square-leg for a single. Nine overs down in Cardiff. Cook 20* Ballance 8
Interesting decision from Clarke as Nathan Lyon, who took a hammering in the warm-up match against Essex, comes into the attack for early bowl. "Turn and bounce," insists Haddin. I'm not so sure. England may look to target the off-spinner over the course of the series. Cook takes a step down the pitch to get to the pitch but he can't pick the gap. That should be an indication of what is to come. Maiden.
Johnson changes his line with a couple of short balls, but Ballance make sure his bat is in a safe position as he watches two deliveries go down the leg-side. Ballance finds the middle in defence when the inevitable fuller balls arrive before nudging a couple through mid-wicket.
Lyon is yet to find the right length and the positive intent from Cook is there to see as he skips forward before driving straight to the fielder at cover. Picking out the fielders is a common theme as Lyon completes his second maiden.
The changes keep on coming as Johnson makes way for Starc, who bowled just two overs in his opening spell. A full-toss is there for punishment and Ballance guides the ball through the covers to earn four. England's number three finds two more to mid-wicket as the hosts continue to make good progress following the loss of Lyth.
WICKET! COOK (20) C HADDIN B LYON
This is a big blow for the hosts. Lyon strikes just two balls after the drinks break as Cook, looking to be positive against the spinner again, edges one through to Haddin while attempting a cut. That's the key wicket for the tourists.
Bell uses his feet first ball, but he can only prod the ball back to Lyon. Australia were given such a tough time by Bell during his fantastic run of form in the summer of 2013. England need their experienced men to deliver. An early miscue is far from convincing as Bell skips down the pitch to loft a single into the leg-side. Lyon won't mind seeing that.
WICKET! BELL (1) LBW B STARC
Australia are on top now! Bell departs for just one when Starc gets one to swing back and hit the pad. Umpire Marais Erasmus quickly raises the finger. I must admit I thought it may have been going past leg-stump, but Bell decides against reviewing after a quick chat with Cook.
Starc delivers a beauty to greet Root, who gets a vital inside edge on the ball to save himself from being trapped lbw. Drop! It wasn't clear at first, but Root gets an edge on his second ball and Haddin puts down the chance diving with one hand to his right. An optimistic appeal for caught behind follows as Root survives a very nervy start.
The technology has proven that Starc's delivery to Bell probably would have clipped leg-stump. It was an incredible over, and you just wonder if Australia will regret dropping Root. Hazlewood is back into the attack at the other end and Ballance is more than happy to negotiate a maiden over.
Three worrying balls at the start of his innings are followed by the perfect cover drive from Root, who gets off the mark with four past mid-off. Starc hits back to beat the outside edge. Two decent deliveries are ruined when Starc drifts wider and Root cuts to the point boundary for four more. England's number five then adds three more with a push through the covers. Ballance keeps the strike thanks to a single down the ground.
Hazlewood pushes the ball to wide when he attempts to test Ballance with one that goes across him, but he finds a nice line with a sharp bouncer which the left-hander evades comfortably. Ballance is then beaten on the outside edge as Hazlewood tries his luck from round the wicket. Maiden. Ballance 17 Root 11*
Shot! The timing is perfect from Root as he latches onto a straight ball to clip four behind square on the leg-side. Starc desperately attempts to get a hand on the ball when Root drives straight, but the England batsman manages to pick up two more. He's looking in good nick now.
I like the idea of coming round the wicket from Hazlewood, who brings the ball back sharply to force Ballance to block twice at the start of the over. It's just starting to rain once again but the umpires are keen to stay out there for now. Ballance manages to survive another testing over. He might not be scoring quickly, but if he reaches the lunch interval he should be in a good spot to build on this platform. Ballance 18 (49) Root 17* (14)
Johnson is back into the attack, but it's Root on the front foot as he leans back to guide a shorter ball over the fielders on the off-side to reach the rope again. The back-foot drive we're used to seeing from him arrives next as Root punches a couple more through the covers. Warner does the chasing from gully to stop another boundary as Root picks the gap to earn three more. Good batting.
Shot! It won't get much better than this today. Root's hands are so quick outside off-stump as he punishes Hazlewood to guide four to the rope at third-man. A misfield on the off-side allows Root to pick up two more. Australia need to be fuller to him. Ballance is happy to watch on from the other end. Ballance 17* Root 32
LUNCH: Ballance is still not coming forward, but he won't mind frustrating the Australians as long as the ball reaches the boundary as it does when he attacks outside off-stump at the start of the Johnson over. I mentioned the 40-50 ball mark for Ballance, and he looks more comfortable now as he cuts his 56th delivery to the rope for four more. Johnson over adjusts with a straighter ball and Ballance clips three into the leg-side. One more makes it 12 off the final over of the session.
It's been an intriguing start to the first session of this summer's Ashes series. Australia should be happy with their work after removing Lyth, Cook and Bell, but Root is currently leading the recovery following a nervy start which saw him dropped by Haddin. Root and Ballance need to continue to build this partnership in the afternoon. Australia should be confident. Ballance 28* Root 33*
We'll take a break during the lunch interval, but make sure you're here in around 30 minutes as the first day of the Ashes Test continues in Cardiff. See you then.
Welcome back everyone. If you're looking across social media, the pitch in Cardiff isn't getting great reviews but we're being treated to some interesting cricket early in this first Test. The partnership between Ballance and Root is likely to be crucial. Australia's excellent seam attack should be optimistic about piling on the pressure this afternoon.
The players are back out on the field in Cardiff. Ballance (28*) and Root (33*) will continue with England on 88-3. Hazlewood has the ball in his hand.
Root doesn't get all of a pull shot to the longest boundary, but he still manages to collect three runs. Ballance continues to leave well and he finds a run of his own as the afternoon session gets underway in the Welsh capital.
Starc takes the ball from the other end as the umpires briefly interrupt play after realising they were wearing each other's jackets. Good to see they're on the ball. Starc has really struggled to find the right line to the left-hander. He then oversteps and Ballance nudges the ball into the leg-side to bring up the 50 partnership. Root finds the fielder at deep square-leg and settles for another single. Clarke will be slightly concerned with Starc at the moment.
Short, wide and four as Root punishes a poor delivery from Hazlewood with a fine cut shot. The seamer his back with one that comes back quickly, but there's no movement from Clarke when the skipper takes a catch at second slip off the thigh pad. Hazlewood is bowling slightly shorter now, which probably isn't the way to go against Root, who is probably better with the punch than David Warner was in that bar back in 2013. Sorry Dave. Four off the over.
Much, much better from Starc as he hits a better line to beat Ballance's outside edge. A fuller delivery is then squeezed past third slip for four as England's number three takes his past 100. Starc responds with a bouncer which Ballance does well to avoid. Ballance 34 Root 41*
Hazlewood has gone to a fuller length now and he almost sneaks one through with a ball that nips back and just beats the inside edge and the top of off-stump. Root continues to look solid in defence when the ball is shorter later in the over. Maiden.
Lovely batting from Ballance as he leans on a full delivery from Starc to clip four runs into the leg-side, but he breathes a sigh of relief a moment later when an edge drops short of Watson at first slip. Haddin can't collect a wayward delivery down the leg-side and Root reacts to call his partner through for a bye. Root then sneaks a single with an open-faced shot past point.
If Hazlewood is going to win the battle with Root, it's about patience. He can't afford to keep altering his plans to the Yorkshire ace, who finds a gap on the leg-side to pick up a single. Just one off the over.
He's back into the attack now looking to improve this record.
Good fielding from Adam Voges at cover as he dives to his left to stop a firm drive from Root, who does very well to earn two later in the over after getting a thick inside edge on the in-swinger from Johnson. England making steady progress after lunch. Ballance 38 Root 46*
Lyon, who took 1-1 in his opening three overs, is back into the attack. A full delivery is sliced through third-man by Root for a couple, before a leading edge sends the ball just beyond the fielder at cover. It's not his best shot of the day, but it's enough to guide Root through to his 50 as he continues to deliver the goods on the international stage. England take five off Lyon's returning over.
Haddin appeals optimistically when Root takes on the bouncer from Johnson, but there's no suggestion that glove or bat was involved. A short ball is pulled down to fine-leg for one, before Ballance is treated to some short stuff as Johnson comes over the wicket. He dodges the first bouncer and the next ball hits the handle to fall just short of leg-gully. Another bouncer follows, but Ballance keeps this one down. Australia are surely going to stick to this approach for a while. Ballance does not look comfortable.
Lyon is bowling from round the wicket to the right-handed Root and the left-handed Ballance. The former drops to one knee to pull a single to fine-leg. Decent over from the off-spinner. Ballance 38 Root 53*
Root attempts to cut one which nips back and Johnson is left scratching his head as the ball just beats the outside edge. It remains a very slow pitch as Haddin continues to take a lot of deliveries close to his toes. England might be thinking that a score around 350 will put them in pretty good shape. Root adds four to the total when he drags the ball past the stumps off the inside edge while playing a loose drive. Ballance lets the latest bouncer hit him on the forearm as Voges takes a meaningless catch at short-leg.
Root is picture perfect as he drops down to drive Lyon through the covers for four. Australia then launch an lbw appeal when Root is struck on the pad. Clarke is off the field but vice-captain Steve Smith decides to review. He's proved wrong as the technology shows that the ball pitched outside leg-stump. I wonder what the skipper thinks of that choice as he watches on from the balcony. England collect nine off the over.
Lovely timing once again from Root, whose form looks to be on course to last forever as he drives past mid-off for four runs. A single hands the strike back to Ballance, who is going to become very familiar with the Johnson bouncer by the end of the summer if this afternoon's action is anything to go by. Johnson has 0-49 off 10 overs. Will he improve his record in England? Currently averaging just below 40 with the ball in this country.
Root, much like his captain earlier on, is looking to be positive against the spin as he skips forward to earn a single off Lyon. Good from the spinner, though, who concedes just one off the over.
Watson played an important role with the ball in the 2013/14 series with his ability to keep things tight at one end, but he bowls a loose one early in his first spell here as Root cuts for three to bring up the century partnership off 144 balls. Three off the over. Australia need a wicket.
Root continues to score at just under a run-a-ball as he rotates the strike with a sweep behind square off Lyon, who finds the slightest hint of turn outside off-stump as Ballance negotiates the rest of the over.
Brilliant from Warner at gully as he stops a well-timed late cut from Root, who won't be offered much room to free his arms should Watson settle into a nice rhythm. The all-rounder strays down leg-side to give Haddin no chance as the ball races away for four byes, but he responds by beating the outside edge when Root plays a loose drive. Frustrated with a poor shot, Root quickly adjusts and drives the next one through the covers for four.
Ballance uses a slightly bigger stride forward than he has been doing against Lyon, and his reward is a single off a thick inside edge. Root is left scrambling to get back in his crease when he skips forward to hit the ball against Smith, who is standing at short-leg. Another single hands the strike to Ballance, who can only pick out short cover with a firm drive.
Root is usually comfortable around off-stump, but if he does have a vulnerable spot, it's coming forward to the seamer. A thick inside edge earns him a run as Watson looks to camp in that area. Ballance nudges a couple into the leg-side but he can't find the middle with a drive and then plays and misses at the end of the over.
There's plenty of excitement around the bat when the ball loops up but Smith can't hold on at short-leg. He really should take the catch. However, a quick look at hotspot proves that there was no bat involved. Root sweeps for three to move to 80* and Ballance adds another with a push into the covers. Root steals the strike with another single.
Watson is out of the attack as Starc returns for a new spell after struggling to find the right areas earlier in the day. His frustration grows when a leg-side delivery drifts further away from Haddin to gift four extras to the hosts. Starc is then too wide and too full outside off-stump as Root lunges forward to drill the ball through the covers for four. It just looks so easy for him as he nudges two more off the pads.
It didn't take too long for Watson to return as he switches ends to replace Lyon. Ballance moves closer to a potentially crucial half-century with a couple of runs. Watson might have a role to play in this innings.
After coming round the wicket, Starc is back over to the right-handed Root and that probably is the better tactic. Root settles for a single when he fails to get all of a push down the ground. 50! Ballance has been battling the Australian bowlers and his own technique today, but this could be an important moment for him and England as he reaches his half-century with four through points. Cardiff salutes England's number three. He'll be keen to end his poor run with a ton in this innings. Ballance 53 Root 88*
Hazlewood has been the pick of the Australian bowlers today and he comes back into the attack as the tourists look for an important breakthrough. It's a very good over on his return before Root spoils a potential maiden by moving into the nineties with four runs to the cover boundary.
Johnson is back and he is coming round the wicket to Ballance, who has looked uncomfortable against the short stuff. On a better pitch it would be a tougher challenge but the ball is getting older and the surface is not offering much help. Ballance evades a couple of bouncers before adding four to the total with a clip off the pads.
Hazlewood starts with a wider one to Root, who is beaten on the outside edge as he plays a loose drive. It's a very good over from the seamer as he tests Root with a challenging line and length. Maiden over.
Ballance gets inside the line of a sharp short ball from Johnson to earn a couple behind square on the leg-side, but a late cut is stopped by Warner in the gully. A wild swing outside off-stump should keep the seamer interested. Haddin then does well to get a glove on the ball when Johnson drifts one down the leg-side. Ballance 59 Root 92*
TEA: Hazlewood mixes his lengths up early in the over before Root does well to hurry a single after a push into the off-side. Ballance is denied more runs from Warner, who does brilliantly to stop the ball off the outside edge again. No troubles for England in the final over of what has turned into a great session for the hosts. Ballance 59* Root 93*
Yorkshire continue to deliver the goods for England as Ballance and Root lead their side to a good position at the tea break on day one. Root has played brilliantly since being dropped second ball by Haddin, and Ballance is battling his way back to form. Australia need something better from their seamers when the action resumes in around 20 minutes.
Australia did pretty well this morning, but had Root been caught by Haddin they would have reduced England to 43-4 and the hosts would have been in huge trouble. In his current form, you can't give Root a chance to punish you. Root and Smith have been tipped to be the key men in this series. The Yorkshire man is on top of his game once again.
Australia need to strike early in the evening session. If they can get Root soon, it would be a huge boost. With Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler to come we could see England go on the attack in the latter stages of day one.
The players are back out on the field at the SWALEC Stadium. Clarke gives his side the final few words of encouragement before the resumption of play. Johnson will continue bowling.
Root starts the session with a lovely cover drive but he can only find the hands of Voges. It's a pretty good over from Johnson, who beats the outside edge with one that holds its line. A maiden looks to be on the way until Root moves to within three of a century with four through the covers. Ballance 59* (146) Root 97 (116)
There's a leg-gully in place for Ballance and the Australians would have you believe he was in with a chance with a few gasps when the left-hander clips Hazlewood into the leg-side for a couple of runs.
WICKET! BALLANCE (61) LBW B HAZLEWOOD
Australia make the breakthrough! An excellent partnership comes to an end as Hazlewood delivers a full ball to trap Ballance's back leg. It just looked out. Kumar Dharmasena sends the batsman on his way and there's no review. It's not three figures, but Ballance should take some confidence by the way he's battled back to form today.
If Stokes gets in, the run-rate will always be healthy for England. Hazlewood is off target to the new man as the ball drifts down the leg-side. Stokes gets off the mark with a thick inside edge into the leg-side for three. Five runs and a wicket off the over.
Johnson vs. Stokes. This could be a fun battle to watch unfold this summer. An inside edge sends the ball crashing into the pads and Stokes is a relieved man as it drifts just past the stumps. It's a traditional line and length from Johnson. Stokes looks solid after the early scare. Maiden over.
CENTURY! He just keeps scoring runs. Root does it again for England as he drives past point to record his seventh century in Test cricket. What a player. Australia will be hoping that this isn't a sign of things to come in this series. Can Root go even bigger in this innings? A superb straight drive for four more suggests that he's far from finished. All of the home supporters in Cardiff unite in shouts of, "Rooooooot!" Stokes 3* Root 107
Six! Well, I said this could be an exciting session. Johnson delivers a bouncer to Stokes for the first time and the Durham all-rounder responds with a pull shot. The ball sails over Haddin off the top edge to earn him six runs. Another boundary follows when a late cut beats a helpless Warner in the gully. Stokes can't help but laugh when Johnson ends the over with a long stare.
Lyon is into the attack for Australia. Predictably, these two are both keen to be positive against the spinner. Root, who just took some painkillers out in the middle, drops to one knee but fails to connect fully with the sweep shot. Another example of England attempting to attack the spinner but struggling to find the gaps. Well bowled Lyon. Maiden.
Stokes shuffles across the crease to nudge the returning Starc into the leg-side for one. Shot! He's looked on another level throughout the day and his latest drive shows his class again as Root collects four through cover. England are scoring at 3.80 runs an over. Impressive work from the home side after a tough start to the day.
You've got to imagine that Stokes fancies slog-sweeping Lyon over mid-wicket, but the spinner refuses to five his opponent the freedom to attack in his latest over. One ball almost sneaks through off the inside edge as Stokes plays out a maiden.
Clever batting from Root as he opens the face of the bat to frustrate the two slips and earn four runs through third-man. He adds a single to keep the strike. Clarke is looking very disappointed at second slip. The seamers must improve.
Lyon thinks he's in with a chance when Stokes skips down the pitch to chip the ball, but Warner can't jump high enough to get his hand on it at short cover. Six! Great show of power from Stokes as he launches the spinner down the ground for six more. Life will become very difficult for Clarke if the seamers struggle and Lyon leaks runs at the other end.
Root's batting today has forced Clarke to leave a man out at deep point and it's Lyon who cleans up when the ball is driven into the off-side once again. Two more runs are added when an inside edge beats the fielder at square-leg.
Stokes comes down the pitch, but Lyon changes his length this time to force the all-rounder to block. That doesn't stop the attack though as Stokes takes two steps before just managing to loft the ball past mid-on for four runs. Another boundary follows when Lyon drops one short to allow Stokes to hammer the ball through the covers. This partnership is worth 52 from 63 balls. Stokes 28 Root 121*
Warner produces another excellent piece of fielding to get his hand to a cut from Root, who has forced Clarke to leave just one slip in place as the returning Watson bowls to an off-side field. The slightest hint of seam movement sends the ball past the outside edge before Root cuts a wide one away for three.
Root continues to look solid in defence, but he misses out while attempting to get bat on a wide, full delivery from Watson. A single comes off the penultimate ball of the over before Stokes manages to keep out a fine yorker from Starc.
Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, AB de Villiers and this man? Are they the four best batsmen in Test cricket today?
Watson is too wide to the left-handed Stokes, who connects with a powerful shot through point and collects four. Some surprisingly high bounce shock the batsman as Watson nips one back to strike him in the midriff. Stokes 32 Root 126*
Starc gets the line wrong to Root as the centurion steps across the crease to nudge three runs into the leg-side. Stokes thinks twice about playing at a wider one as Starc continues to desperately search for the right areas. A wayward delivery down the leg-side sneaks under Haddin's glove as England collect four byes. Eight off the over. Starc's figures are a disappointing 1-67 off 16 overs.
Ouch! Stokes attempts to get out of the way when substitute fielder Shaun Marsh targets the stumps from mid-on, but the all-rounder is still struck on the inside of the knee. That's going to hurt for the rest of the day. Stokes and Root each pick up a single off the Watson over.
Here's an interesting move. David Warner is into the attack with his part-time medium pace. Could you imagine his reaction if he removed Root? His gentle out-swingers don't appear to be too much of a problem as Root follows two with a single into the off-side. Stokes makes it four from the over.
Watson settles on a very good line for four deliveries before allowing Stokes to nudge three runs to deep mid-wicket. Root is then beaten by one that keeps very, very low outside off-stump. I'm not sure what to expect from this pitch over the next five days.
The experiment gets a second over as Warner watches Stokes flick the ball through fine-leg for four runs. A nudge to mid-on is enough to earn Stokes a single as Root, who has been struggling with a sore back today, reacts quickly at the non-striker's end. Another single makes it six off the over. England in a very good position.
WICKET! ROOT (134) C WATSON B STARC
Starc resists a big celebration as he strikes on his return to the attack. He catches the outside edge and it's Watson who takes a fine low catch at first slip. A fantastic knock comes to an end as Root departs for 134 from 166 balls.
Jos Buttler is the new man at number seven. He's a key man. If he gets in and sticks alongside Stokes, the run-rate will only increase. Starc completes a wicket maiden as Buttler starts his knock with five dot balls. The new ball is seven overs away.
Good move from Clarke. The new ball is around the corner, so he turns to Lyon. It won't be easy for Buttler to begin his innings against spin. It's a pretty uneventful over as Stokes cuts a single to deep cover to spoil a potential maiden.
Close! Stokes breathes a huge sigh of relief as an outside edge sends the ball over the head of Smith at third slip, which is a surprise on this slow pitch. An attempted yorker is then clipped into the leg-side for a couple of runs. A leading edge has mid-on interested but the ball drops short. We could have a very entertaining finish to the day.
Buttler gets off the mark by lofting his eighth ball over cover for three runs. 50! Rogers does well to prevent a boundary at cover but he can't stop Stokes from reaching his half-century off 76 balls. He looks in good form again. Can he kick on from here?
WICKET! STOKES (52) B STARC
What a beauty! Starc has been poor for most of the day, but this is a very good spell. Stokes can do nothing about a ball that leaves him and knock backs off-stump. Starc puts his fingers to his lips to order Stokes to say nothing. Not sure if that's reference to something which has happened today or not.
Moeen Ali is the new man for England and he's immediately off the mark with a push down the ground for two runs before adding two more with a clip off the hip. Starc is forced to restart his run-up after pulling up, and he's left annoyed again when Ali brings up 300 with a nudge to deep mid-wicket for three. Shot! 2,2,3 and 4 as Ali sends a drive through extra cover to pick up four more. I think Starc may be suffering with cramp. He immediately heads off the field at the end of the over.
Well, this is how you start an innings. Ali looks at one ball from Lyon before dropping to one knee to slog-sweep the spinner over the rope for six. England's all-rounder takes the aerial route once again to pick up two more with a loft over cover.
We haven't seen Johnson in a while but he's back into the attack with the new ball just two overs away. Buttler is more than happy to watch some unthreatening deliveries when the seamer drifts two wide in the first half of the over. The England fans are enjoying his attempts to hit the right spot as Buttler easily avoids a bouncer. A thick edge delights the home crowd as Buttler picks up four before ignoring some words from the bowler.
Hazlewood gets to begin his new spell with the old ball, but he really struggles to hit the line or length he needs to find. Ali foolishly leaves one which nips back but the ball is too high. The reviews are refreshed at 80 overs, so Clarke decides it's worth a punt. Far too high. Not out.
Johnson is thrown the new ball and there's immediately some swing into the pads of Buttler, who clips the ball into the leg-side for three. Starc is still not moving very well as he fields that ball and Clarke sends his seamer off to be replaced once again. It's no surprise to see Johnson pull his length back for Ali, who has not always looked comfortable against the short ball at his level. I'm not sure if he should waste the new ball with too many bouncers, though. Four off the over.
Ali looks very solid in defence as he keeps out a decent over from Hazlewood, who finds a bit of swing but is slightly too straight early on. He over adjusts and Ali cashes in to drive four through the off-side. England will be delighted if they reach the close without losing another wicket.
Haddin is forced into more work down the leg-side as he takes a wayward ball from Johnson, who watches Buttler hit the next ball through mid-wicket for a couple. A similar shot follows later in the over as Buttler earns two more. One more run on the leg-side allows him to keep the strike.
Hazlewood is a touch too full at the start of the over and Buttler manages to beat point to pick up a couple of runs. A thick outside edge leaves fielders and bowlers frustrated. It was never a chance but Clarke had just taken out third slip and Buttler collects four more. A pull hands the strike to Ali, who pushes the ball down the ground for a couple. Nine runs scored.
Buttler looks comfortable as he rocks back to pull Johnson away for a single. Starc is back on the field for Australia, but I'm not sure if he'll be allowed to bowl again this evening. Ali appears to be growing in confidence against Johnson, and it helps when the seamer continues to send balls down the leg-side. It also helps when you can drill the ball through square-leg for four. The 50 partnership arrives in just 51 balls.
Hazlewood pleads with Kumar Dharmasena to raise his finger when he hits the pad, but it was too high and the ball probably would have gone down the leg-side, too. Buttler never looked too concerned.
WICKET! BUTTLER (27) C JOHNSON B HAZLEWOOD
Oh dear, this is a poor shot from Buttler. He can only pop Hazlewood straight to Johnson, who takes a very easy catch at mid-on. It's a poor way to get out after looking comfortable on his way to 27 from 31 balls. Every Australian's favourite Englishman heads out to the middle as Broad joins Ali. He watches the ball drift down the leg-side as Hazlewood completes a wicket maiden.
Ali attacks a wide one from Johnson, but he can't connect with a loose drive. England will not want to lose him with less than five minutes remaining in the day. He's beaten on the outside edge again at the end of a maiden over. There will be just one more over this evening.
CLOSE OF PLAY: It doesn't come as a surprise to see Hazlewood deliver a bouncer with the second ball, but Broad calmly ducks out of the way. Another short ball is almost inevitable as Broad watches it land safely on the off-side after getting himself into an awkward position. A thick edge sends the ball into the leg-side but Broad elects to keep the strike, rather than expose Ali. Hazlewood finishes with a maiden. Ali 26* Broad 0*
It's been a really interesting start to the Ashes series in Cardiff today. Australia were in control with early wickets before Joe Root hit back with a superb 132. Ballance and Stokes both recorded half-centuries before the touring bowlers responded in the closing stages of the day. England would have liked Buttler or Stokes to be there at stumps, but they've probably just edged the opening day.
That's all from our live coverage this evening. I hope you've enjoyed following the action with me. Make sure you follow day two from 10.30am tomorrow. Goodbye!