Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day November 25, 2010

From a captain to a debutant, nerves all round


Emotional overload?
Andrew Strauss chuckled on the eve of the Test when asked the inevitable question about Steve Harmison's Gabba shocker back here in 2006. "I don't think it's overly helpful to mention that first ball four years ago," he said, although the issue was less the fact that Harmison missed the cut strip with that infamous delivery, but rather what it said about the nerves that take hold at the start of such a massive series. And as it turned out, even a player as phlegmatic as Strauss couldn't keep on top of his emotions - or the ball - as the series started with its now-inevitable bang. The first two balls were negotiated safely enough, but the third was shorter and straighter, and climbed off the deck as Strauss sized up the cut. Mike Hussey at gully didn't twitch a muscle as the ball thudded into his palms, and suddenly the serenity of England's start to the tour had been obliterated.

Slipping through the spinner's fingers
Xavier Doherty's introduction to Test cricket was going pretty well in the circumstances. His first delivery, in the 21st over, gripped on a good length and turned back in to Alastair Cook, who left it watchfully outside off stump, and within three balls he was jousting with Kevin Pietersen, the man whose fallibility against left-arm spin is one of the major reasons why Doherty had been preferred ahead of the offie Nathan Hauritz. Though Pietersen came after him right from the start, the rookie was holding his own ... but one ball after completing his second over, he was jolted out of his comfort zone. Cook, on 26, squirted a cut off Watson towards point, but Doherty's leap was fractionally mistimed. He got both hands to the offering, but nothing more, and a priceless breakthrough went begging. Ricky Ponting, to his credit, rushed up to give his young charge a quick pep-talk, before striding purposefully back to business.

Birthday bonus
Peter Siddle was a surprise choice for this Test match, given how effective Doug Bollinger had been for Australia throughout the past year. But when push came to shove, Ponting preferred to back the wholehearted aggression of a man whose endeavours had fallen short in England during last summer's 2-1 defeat. So in came Siddle for his first Test since January, and what an impact he made. Bowling wicket to wicket, he found enough movement to end an ominous innings from Kevin Pietersen, then did the same to Cook as his failing outside off undermined a priceless innings. After that it all happened too quickly for England. Matt Prior's loose waft found nothing but thin air, and with a raucous Gabba baying for blood, Stuart Broad was clearly unready as he rushed belatedly to the crease and tried to find his composure. Siddle, however, marked his 26th birthday with a perfect first-ball yorker, and a futile use of the referral couldn't deny him his hat-trick.

Swinging on to the straight and narrow
Shane Watson's first over was the ultimate mixed bag. His first delivery was swinging on to the pads, and Jonathan Trott helped it effortlessly through the leg-side for four; the second was a rank wide as Watto tried to readjust his line but over-compensated badly, and two further powder-puffs underlined the impression that he wasn't quite at the races. But then, just like that, he nailed his line and length. The fifth ball zipped off the deck to serve up a warning, before the sixth was simply too good for an uncharacteristically loose Jonathan Trott. Full and fuller, and angling in all the time, it burst through the gate of an unbalanced drive, to set in motion a day of rattled timbers for England.

Wayward wicketkeeper
Don't ask Brad Haddin if you're an Australian considering an umpiring review. Haddin's record in this regard remains unchanged after he backed up Siddle's roaring lbw appeal to Trott in the fourth over. Siddle had angled one in and was fluttering his arms liked an over-enthusiastic dancer at Aleem Dar, who ruled it not out. Ponting conferred with Haddin, who gets the best view, but rarely makes the right decision on reviews. The replay showed the ball was just brushing leg stump, leaving the call with Dar, and Australia were down to one challenge within 20 minutes.

Short-handed by short-leg
Simon Katich didn't do any better when he convinced Ponting to ask for the second referral when he thought Ian Bell had edged behind. Katich was at short-leg, on the other side of Mitchell Johnson's delivery, and was the only one who really believed. The slips cordon offered no initial support - not even Haddin - and Bell soon moved on smoothly from 18.

Sign of the times
There are so many sponsorship boards at the Gabba that there isn't much space free for the witty scribble on a bed sheet. Spectators have to resort mostly to strips of cardboard but even those have to be trimmed when they invade on the corporate space. One home-made sign was raised at the fall of the second wicket: "Just another Kevin to get rid of." Australia's prime minister Kevin Rudd, whose constituency includes the Gabba, was cut down earlier in the year and today Peter Siddle removed Kevin Pietersen on 43. As Pietersen departed the name on the note was replaced by "Cook".

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo, Peter English is Australasian editor.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2010, 22:38 GMT

    @Foxtrot I am sure you have forgotten the pitch on which Aus was bowled out for just over 200 in the second test of the Ind -Aus test series !

  • safwan on November 25, 2010, 21:33 GMT

    im a pakistani, yet i believe that Ashes in the last 5 years has produced the most thrilling cricket played anywhere. True, england have been bowled out for 260. 10 years back, Australia would have posted 500 in reply and rolled england over. Now, things have changed radically. England posses the best spinner in all the game, Swanny could turn this game on its head first thing tomorrow morning. This is precisely why Ashes over the last 5 years has been deeply intriguing.

    on another note, i want to congratulate aleem dar. The guy is a fantastic umpire. some of his decision making on the first day was top drawer. ONLY if simon taufel too could umpire his home country's test matches. that would be some combination!

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2010, 19:06 GMT

    Good Match !!! After A long time!!! Yeah i would say " Congrats to Siddle for his classical effort but Pointing cant handle his team now in 2010 and 2011 world cup , as we can see that when bell used to hit him some , and so pointing spread his field all over the ground and when he used to stop some deliveries all field used to come back - what game planning is this . I think its england captain and their XI were exicted about previous victories They are gone foolishly Yet we should not forget that England also make comeback in their Previous Ashes after their 1st Test, So England are still Good Team , But some how they loose actually england will lose their moral for world cup and aussie will regain their cup... So We Have To See This Ashes more exciting !! Pakistan Zindabad !!!:D From Osama Akhter

  • Srikant on November 25, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    @foxtrot... I guess it is difficult for you to digest the fact that we subcontinent people score more than you. Subcontinent pitches too offer results, case in point being the recent 2-0 loss of Australia in India. Also its not as if Australian pitches do not provide draws, or else west indies would have lost all test matches when it last played in Australia. Also the sub continent heroes have those humongous number of runs on the back of their run scoring ability on all kinds of pitches and are not only shirt front bullies. Sehwag, Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Mohammed Yousuf, Sangakkara are what they are because they have scored all around the world. Australia since the retirement of Hayden, Langer, Martyn and the two Waugh brothers are struggling for the lack of talent in the run scoring department and not because they do not get shirt fronts often....

  • Anand on November 25, 2010, 18:44 GMT

    someone...umm...yeah...foxtrot..say again....hype up indian batsmen test averages?...batting stats?....aussies batted on the same pitches din they?....what all the best to england...they r going to win and take back the urn to where it belongs.........ABA

  • Nikhil on November 25, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    Every single person is wriring off Poms now! come on people, its just test 1 day 1 and 260 is not a very bad score either, agreed England should have got more after winning the toss, but the game is not at all over yet!

  • vinay on November 25, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    @sagnik - You can have dinner all year along with your family,but dining with them on a festive occasion is what counts or what is remembered.. if you miss visiting grandparents on diwali or thanksgiving.. they will never forget it.. similarly.. Cricket can be played everywhere.. but Ashes is special which cannot be matched neither by the brilliance of Aus-India test matches nor by the tension of the Indo-pak matches

  • Baljinder on November 25, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    I am an Indian, and for the first time in my life I find myself rooting for Australia...there must be something wrong with me...

  • Mashuq on November 25, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    Sure, it's too early to tell, but I admit to being suckered by the Pommie press's hype. Keep it up, Punter, and all will be forgiven. Don't count on the lower order - do it yourself. Give us a big century, like you used to do and shut those whingeing Poms up real good. Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie!

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Agree 200% with everything that Davo47 said. I am glad Siddle has proven us wrong, because I always liked the guy but wanted Bollinger in this test. Time to drop Johnson, the Marcus North of bowling. Showed again today that when he doesn't get wickets, he's giving away too many runs. He continuously gave the momentum back to England when he was bowling. Hilfy will go better if he pitches it up more, he was a bit short today. Heartiest congratulations to Peter Siddle today, a true Aussie performance. Aggressive, pumped-up, acknowledging the crowd, and doing it all against the Poms. Well done.

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