IT was a chastening experience for England on the first day of the Fourth Specsavers Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

In a day interrupted by high winds and rain, in-form Australian batsmen Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith put on a century partnership to help their side close on 170-3.

England lost the toss and were asked to bowl first, but got off to the perfect start when Australian opener David Warner nicked Stuart Broad's fourth ball of the morning.

Warner, attempting to leave the ball, failed to withdraw his bat in time, with the edge caught comfortably by England wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.

Warner’s fellow opener Marcus Harris was soon on his way too, trapped leg before wicket for 13 by Broad. Despite Harris calling for a review, the ball-tracking technology showed the ball was clipping the top of the stumps.

Harris’ dismissal left his side struggling on 28-2, but Labuschagne and the returning Smith soon showed their class.

The crowd in Manchester were looking forward to seeing Jofra Archer resume his duel with Smith, with the Aussie missing the last test at Headingley after Archer’s lethal short ball concussed him at Lord’s.

But Archer’s pace and bounce failed to trouble Smith here, with the Australian ploughing on in his unorthodox style to make an unbeaten 60, following on from his previous scores in the series of 144, 142 and 92.

Labuschagne, who was drafted into the side when Smith suffered that injury at Lords, made a battling 59 in the second innings to save the game there, before making 74 and 80 at Headingley.

He made 67 here before being castled by a fine Craig Overton delivery, as he and Smith put on 116 for the third wicket. That dismissal came just after heavy winds brought farcical scenes.

Litter from the crowd repeatedly blew across the outfield to stop play, Smith swept an invading beach ball to the boundary and the bails blew off enough to persuade the umpires to remove them for a brief period.

Those bizarre interludes did little to lift the England mood, as rain brought a premature end to proceedings at around 5:30pm, with Australia well on top.