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July 30, 2009
Ashes debutant of the day
Shane Watson has waited an awfully long time to make his mark in an Ashes campaign. In 2005, his only memorable contribution to the summer came when he was on the receiving end of one of the most comical sledges of all time, when Darren Gough spooked him shortly after his infamous ghost-sighting in Lumley Castle in Durham. And then in 2006-07, he was all set to play a pivotal role in the series, but limped out of contention before the first Test in Brisbane, and was not seen again all season. Today, in glorious late-evening sunshine, he expunged those unhappy memories with a free-flowing 62. So much for his Test average of 19.76 - the selectors, it seems, were spot on.
Call of the day
Ricky Ponting hasn't been able to go very far this week without someone reminding him of his fateful decision to bowl first in the last Edgbaston Test in 2005. The groundsman, Steve Rouse, told Cricinfo this week that he thought it had been the correct decision in the circumstances, but not many other people in the game shared that opinion. Ponting was on a bit of a hiding to nothing with the toss this evening as well - after a day-long rain delay and with not much more than a two-hour burst to launch the match, the temptation was there to bowl once again. But this time he resisted, and when his openers raced to 62 for 0 in the first hour, he was vindicated.
Bowling change of the day
Graeme Swann has a happy knack of striking in his first over of a Test match - he even claimed two in his first six deliveries on debut against India in Chennai last December. Simon Katich obviously wasn't fazed by this habit, and opted against a sighter when he faced up to the first ball Swann bowled at him. He launched into an over-ambitious pull to a ball of good length, and Aleem Dar raised his finger after the ball crashed into his pads. It had been a good and aggressive 46 from Katich, but in the end the change of pace did for him.
Celebrity of the day
With little to occupy their time for the majority of the day, the Edgbaston faithful were no doubt grateful for the opportunity to engage in a touch of star-spotting. David Cameron and Ernie Els were among the glitterati spotted around the terraces on Thursday, but the greatest stir was created by none other than Kevin Pietersen, who was mobbed by autograph hunters and general well-wishers when he emerged behind the pavilion around 4pm.
Tweet of the day
Cameron, as it happens, expressed a fairly fruity opinion of the social networking site, Twitter, during a radio interview earlier this week, and after today's developments, one wonders what the Australian selectors make of it as well. Speculation was already rife that Phillip Hughes had been dropped to make way for Watson, but the matter was put beyond all doubt when Hughes himself tweeted the news to his friends and followers several hours before the toss. "Disappointed not to be on the field with the lads today," he wrote. "Will be supporting the guys, it's a BIG test match 4 us. Thanks 4 all the support!"
Drama of the day
An Edgbaston Ashes Test is not complete without a last-minute team-changing development. In 2005, Glenn McGrath trod on a cricket ball and ricked his ankle during the pre-match warm-ups. Four years later, it was the wicketkeeper, Brad Haddin - ironically the man responsible for leaving McGrath's fateful ball on the outfield - who had to be belatedly withdrawn. He broke his left ring finger after the toss, but before the players came out for the start of play, and after a consultation with Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss, was replaced by Graham Manou, who became the fifth Australian wicketkeeper to play a Test since the debut of Ian Healy in 1988.
Let-off of the day
England's seamers did not bowl especially well in their brief foray - the pitch was slow, the outfield was fast, and the slightest error in line and length (and there were several of both) was punished. But James Anderson did have one squeakingly close appeal for lbw against Simon Katich, who had made 5 at the time. A full-length delivery zipped off the pitch to crash into his back pad, but Aleem Dar judged that the ball would have slipped past the off stump. It looked closer than that, but it was the pacemen's fault that they didn't force any further chances.
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