Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day

Presentations and precipitations

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the first day of the first Test between Australia and New Zealand at the Gabba

Daniel Brettig at the Gabba

December 1, 2011

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Richie Benaud presents Mitchell Starc with his baggy green, Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day, December 1, 2011
Mitchell Starc receives his baggy green from Richie Benaud © Getty Images
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The debutants
As they did in Johannesburg in 2009, Australia presented baggy green caps to three men on the same morning. Two years ago Ricky Ponting had handed the caps to Phillip Hughes, Marcus North and Ben Hilfenhaus, but this time his successor Michael Clarke called on a trio of older stagers to do the honours. David Warner's was presented by Michael Slater, Andy Bichel handed out the cap to James Pattinson and Richie Benaud gaved Mitchell Starc his. Benaud might have mentioned his own great left-arm paceman Alan Davidson to Starc, who like Davidson can swing the ball.

The first over
Clarke surprised by handing the first over to Pattinson, and a nervous over resulted. Three times Brendon McCullum crashed offside boundaries, and Pattinson also served up a wide. Swing and seam was evident, but the radar way awry. Seldom missing a trick so far as Test captain, Clarke perhaps erred in posting Nathan Lyon and Starc to mid-on and mid-off. The reassuring sight of his Victorian team-mate and good friend Peter Siddle near the bowler's mark would have helped to soothe Pattinson's nerves, much as Lyon benefited from having his New South Wales country colleague Trent Copeland alongside him in Sri Lanka. Instead, Siddle was at fine leg, and Pattinson's edginess endured.

The drops
For a period either side of lunch, it seemed New Zealand were handing out chances more readily than Australia's fielders were prepared to accept them. Usman Khawaja had twice spurned catches at short leg before he accepted a gentler offering from Kane Williamson's bat and pad, but it was a genuine surprise to see Clarke and Warner spill chances. Clarke grassed a slips catch from Dean Brownlie that was simple in every respect apart from the fact it flew off the toe of Brownlie's bat, and Warner allowed the same batsman's cut at Starc to burst through his hands.

The rain
It is a feature of Brisbane's ground-staff, attuned as they are to the vagaries of the tropics, that the curator Kevin Mitchell junior will occasionally rush out onto the field to cover the pitch in advance of the umpires asking him to. This time the rain was yet to arrive when the umpires called off play for bad light, but Mitchell, having observed the weather radar closely, had the covers rolled out and sitting next to the match strip in anticipation of the first drop of moisture. When it landed the pitch was safely covered, as the day's play slid to a damp and early conclusion at 4pm local time as the rain fell solidly for the remainder of the evening.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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