Cometh the hour
When England have got it wrong to Australia's opening batsmen, in the opening overs of past Ashes series, they have got it spectacularly wrong. Phil DeFreitas's long-hops at Brisbane in 1994 and Darren Gough's 18-run over at Edgbaston in 2001 immediately handed the advantage to their opposition. But, today at Lord's England got the first over right and set a completely different tone.
Steve Harmison made an almost instant statement when he struck Justin Langer on his right elbow with the second ball. Langer grimaced, then dropped his bat, before receiving a couple of minutes' treatment from the Australian physio, Errol Alcott. Although the over went for nine, a clear message had been sent out and it was only the beginning. Here Cricinfo's ball-by-ball commentary charts a bruising opening hour for Australia's top-order.
4.4 overs Harmison to Hayden, no run, short one again and Hayden goes for the pull. He misses it completely and cops one on the helmet! Hayden jarred as the ball hits him smack on the badge. Harmison has now struck both openers with well-directed short balls. Hayden just takes his helmet off to check that everything is OK.
7.1 Hoggard to Langer, one run, just short of a length and outside the off. Langer pushed the ball towards cover and runs, Pietersen sprints in and has a shy. If that had hit, Langer was gone for all the world! Risky single, that.
7.6 Hoggard to Hayden, OUT: There's the peach from Hoggard. Perfectly pitched up, swinging in late, Hayden leans forward to drive and misses as the ball shatters the off stump! Hoggard strikes! Now you can bet he'll be bowling another over or two!
9.1 Hoggard to Ponting, no run, full and swinging away, Ponting drives hard at it and the edge flies to Pietersen in a close gully, and he puts down a sharp chance!
10.4 Harmison to Ponting, no run, and it is Ponting's turn now! Short ball, Ponting goes for the pull and cops a nasty blow on the grille of the helmet. Another disruption in play here as the helmet seems to have jammed on Ponting's face and caused a bit of bleeding. It looks a bit gory there as the blood pours down Ponting's cheek.
While England struck the body blows in the first hour, the second hour would bring the real rewards, as England's pace quartet ripped out Australia's top order. So often Test matches start with a whimper as both teams size each other up, but these two sides already know each other inside out and finally they have been given the chance to show their true wares.