England's Rory Burns acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the field. Photo: Rui Vieira/AP Photo

BIRMINGHAM  England reached 328-8 to build a 44-run lead by lunch on third day of the Ashes opener against Australia despite losing four quick wickets in the morning session on Saturday.

England had looked well positioned to build a more dominant lead when the hosts were on 282-4 but that quickly became 300-8 thanks to Australia's disciplined bowling display.

Rory Burns' marathon century finally came to an end on 133, with Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow also dismissed.

Stokes was the only batsman to show any fluency, reaching 50 before he aimed a cut at Pat Cummins and nicked through to Tim Paine.

Burns added just eight to his overnight score, and after more than seven hours in the middle he was undone by Nathan Lyon's off spin, edging to Paine who held on instinctively.

Moeen went for a five-ball duck, and Bairstow managed only eight before steering Peter Siddle to David Warner at slip.

Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad then added an unbroken 28 for the ninth wicket before the break.

Earlier, James Anderson had a gentle bowl on the practice wickets, tentatively going through his action following the calf injury which restricted him to just four overs in the first innings.

The 37-year-old has been passed fit to bat if required but no decision has been made on whether or not he will bowl again in the game.

AP