Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day January 3, 2011

Bright debut and the captain's curse

Boundary-free Watson
The opener Shane Watson delivered a fine demonstration of leaving during his uncharacteristically patient 45. Watson usually aims to attack but he settled in and batted through the first session for a boundary-free 19. After the break he started to wind up, hitting his first four, a flick in front of square, in the second over back. His pace increased but when he reached 45 he departed to an edge off Tim Bresnan and walked with his 11th score between 34 and 62 in 14 Test innings against England.

Hungry eyes
This is an important Test for Phillip Hughes, who can prevent Simon Katich's return from injury with a big score. Hughes looked his most composed of the series as he played straight and mostly avoided wild slashes outside off while creeping to 31. Chris Tremlett had four balls left before lunch when he delivered one outside off and Hughes was finally tempted, with the edge racing to Paul Collingwood at third slip. Hughes walked off slowly, dipping his head and tapping his bat against his helmet as he left. It was a disappointing end after such hard work.

Khawaja's cool arrival
The timing of Hughes' dismissal meant Usman Khawaja had precisely forty minutes in which to visualize his first ball in Test cricket. To judge by the trio of offerings he served up in the final three balls of Tremlett's interrupted over, he used the time as wisely as any old pro. Tremlett's first ball was on the pads; Khawaja tucked a comfortable two to get himself off the mark. The second ball was short again but outside off this time, and Khawaja rocked back to play Australia's most assured pull stroke since Michael Hussey's epic at the WACA. The third ball, however, was arguably the best of the lot - a fuller length, nipping away, to which Khawaja shouldered arms with the flourish of a left-handed Ricky Ponting. Throughout his innings of 37, he looked thoroughly at home at Test level - more so, arguably, than most of his top-order colleagues.

Home captain's curse
Ricky Ponting spent the first four Tests struggling for a significant contribution and Michael Clarke suffered the same fate on his opening day as captain. Clarke entered under gloomy skies in the afternoon and arrived not long before a rain break. When the teams returned he started by playing straight, but changed his method when Bresnan dropped a short ball just outside off. It was too close to cut but Clarke had a go, finding James Anderson in the gully. He walked off with 4, taking his tally for the series to 152 in eight bats.

Bresnan bundled
Bresnan was once again England's unsung hero with the ball. Though his first five overs went for a relatively costly 22, he returned to his parsimonious best later on in the afternoon, to shut down an end and force two vital breakthroughs either side of the rain delay, as first Watson edged low to Andrew Strauss at slip, before Anderson in the gully made a fizzing chance off Clarke look simple. Before Bresnan could take his rightful place in the celebratory huddle, however, he was tap-tackled by the in-rushing Kevin Pietersen, leaving both men in a tangled heap on the turf, and Matt Prior doubled up with laughter.

New caps
Clarke's first day as Test captain began with Shane Warne and Mark Taylor being asked to present the caps to Australia's two debutants. Warne handed one to Michael Beer, the left-arm spinner, who the legspinner had tipped to be part of the Perth squad a week before the selectors named him. Beer, who now plays with Western Australia, used to represent St Kilda, Warne's old Melbourne club. Khawaja received his baggy green from Taylor, the former New South Wales left-hander, who started his career at the SCG against West Indies in 1988-89. Clarke, looking smart in his captain's blazer, then won the toss and batted.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo and Peter English is the Australasia editor