The main men: Warne and Strauss
Shane Warne has been the outstanding bowler for Australia in this series, and he proved it again on the first day of the final Ashes Test. Pressed into service before lunch on a first-day pitch, Warne winkled out three wickets in the morning session, and then picked up two more over the course of the day to end with splendid figures of 5 for 118. The highlight of his performance was his control against both left-handers and right-handers. There was no rough on the track yet, but Warne pitched 83 deliveries to the right-handers on or outside leg, and kept the batsmen down to only seven runs, an indication of his class and the batsmen's respect for him.
Warne has contributed 33 out of the 80 wickets taken by Australia in this series - that's more than 41%. And Australia's reliance on him is further highlighted by the fact that Warne has taken the first wicket in England's innings five times out of nine in this series - twice each in the second and fourth Tests, when Glenn McGrath wasn't around - and in the first innings here.
If Warne was Australia's hero, then Andrew Strauss ensured that England didn't completely throw away the advantage of batting first. Strauss hasn't had a very happy time of it in the series so far - especially against Warne - but today he went some way towards getting his own back. The stand-out feature of his innings was his assurance at the crease: his in-control factor - that's the number of deliveries middled, left alone, or padded up to - was an impressive 87%. Though he was finally dismissed by Warne, for the fifth time in the series, Strauss handled him with assurance throughout the innings, achieving 90% in-control factor (70 out of 78) against him. In fact, England batted more comfortably throughout the day than the scoreline suggests - their in-control factor against all bowlers was 82.5%, and, quite surprisingly, the bowler they handled most easily was Glenn McGrath, against whom their control factor rose to 87.7%.