Lily fails to hear Warne, and Flintoff fails to entertain
Not so super, Fred
Those coming to see Andrew Flintoff in his final Test - pretty much everyone, really - got the experience for only 22 minutes towards the end of the day. Walking out to bat with the trumpeter playing the Flintstones' theme song, Flintoff spoke briefly to Jonathan Trott on the way to taking guard and was in a hurry to entertain. He square drove a boundary through gully off Mitchell Johnson before ducking into a short delivery next ball that rammed his shoulder. In Johnson's following over Flintoff slashed outside off stump and nicked to Brad Haddin, turning the volume down in the stands.
The first run in a pressure innings feels the hardest and it was almost impossible for the debutant Trott. He spent a dozen balls waiting to get off the mark, with the short leg Simon Katich creating a major obstacle. Two fielders were placed in the deep for short balls and Trott received a couple from Peter Siddle that were squeezed in Katich's direction. The first went behind Katich, who slid and threw so quickly that Trott might have been run-out if the ball had hit. Katich then intercepted another before Trott finally found a two with a back-foot push to midwicket off Marcus North's offspin. He finished with a hard-earned 41, an innings ended by Katich, who stopped a forced clip at short leg and fired back a throw that didn't miss.
C'mon Lily, give us a wave. Please!
HELLO! might have you believe Australia's first couple, Shane and Simone, are headed down the reconciliation path, but his Warne-ness proved he still has an eye for the ladies. Warne was sitting up straight when Sky's cameras twice panned to Lily Allen in The Oval stands, calling on the songstress to give him a wave. But according to her Twitter account, Allen was tuned into TMS, not Sky, leaving Warne's advances to waft unnoticed through the airwaves. So what did Allen think of the day's play? "Collingwood is dull. He'll probably still be batting when I'm back here at The Oval on Saturday, having scored no runs." Perhaps in the second innings.
Head to head
Johnson had picked up Ian Bell in each of his three previous bats in the series and when he entered before lunch it looked like it wouldn't be long before the streak continued. Bell somehow survived a flurry of short balls, including one which seemed to brush the strap of his glove, with fends, head turns and leaves. It was a gripping start and as Bell steadied, Johnson returned occasionally to old ways, delivering two untouchable offside wides in the second session and another after tea.
Double dose of pain
There were more fears for Bell when he drove Ben Hilfenhaus for four and, after jogging up and down the pitch, sat down to grab at his leg. Andrew Strauss was urgent in his waves to the dressing room and the physio trotted out to provide the necessary attention. The visit worked, Bell got to his feet and stood up to Australia with a solid 72. Just as people were asking if this was the new, improved and tough Bell, he inside-edged his first ball after tea and lost his off stump.
Dust to dust
The Australians left The Oval after Wednesday's training session discussing the anticipated firmness of the wicket. That opinion rapidly changed over the course of the first session, however, with dust clouds forming on the surface and balls barely carrying to Haddin. The decision to omit Nathan Hauritz looked all the more curious when Marcus North, a part-timer, turned the ball sharply mid-way through the second session, but Australia's apparent mis-reading of the surface went largely unpunished as England's top-order gifted too many of their wickets with loose strokes outside off stump.
Captain shows the wrong edge
Strauss displayed the required toughness in the first session with a committed half-century but a softer approach resulted in his downfall in the third over after lunch. With a gentle waft to Ben Hilfenhaus' full ball outside off stump, his innings was over. The edge travelled to Haddin and England had lost their pillar. Replays showing a huge no-ball that was not called by Billy Bowden also gave the local fans justification to complain.
Not very appealing
Hilfenhaus is a quiet, straight-down-the-line kind of bloke, but he must have been told to appeal a bit more whenever spotting half a chance. He was bowling to Collingwood when the batsman played and missed, initially forcing a that-was-close look from the bowler before he heard Haddin was going up for a caught behind. Hilfenhaus' sigh turned into a loud yell at Bowden, who was not interested and walked down the pitch while calling over.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo