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July 10, 2013
Australia 75 for 4 (Smith 38*, Hughes 7*) trail England 215 (Trott 48, Bairstow 37, Siddle 5-50, Pattinson 3-69) by 140 runs
Jarrod Kimber : Batsmen reveal Australia's pain
Features : England turn up bearing gifts
Mark Nicholas : No surprises from Siddle
Features : Siddle and Anderson find their bunnies
Features : Siddle flicks switch to light way
Matches: England v Australia at Nottingham
Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of England and Scotland
Frenzied. That barely begins to tell the story. The pent-up tensions at the start of an Ashes series frothed out into a memorable first day of eager and aggressive bowling, angsty batting and high excitement. When the nervous energy had subsided, and a sell-out crowd began to wend its way home, the first day of the Investec Test series had granted its favours slightly, without ever quite making eye contact, towards England.
In the build-up to the Test, it had been observed that the ball had not swung as much at Trent Bridge this season. It turned out that England's most genteel Test ground was just being bashful. On a warm, hazy day, swing bowling was in the ascendancy, 14 wickets fell and no batsman has yet made a half-century.
This is a slow, dry Nottingham surface, already markedly cracked and with the forecast of dry days ahead, England, who won the toss, will fancy that reverse swing and the spin of Graeme Swann will come to the fore as the match progresses. Those possessing tickets for the final day will already be looking for a back-up attraction.
The stand-out bowling figures on a turbulent day went to Peter Siddle, an indefatigable rouser of the troops, who specialises in making an impact at the start of an Ashes series, and who emphatically demanded an immediate reassessment of Australia's qualities as he took five wickets by tea with remorseless, good-length bowling and just enough swing to make it potent.
But the ball of the day was surely delivered, on behalf of England, by James Anderson. He produced a mesmerising delivery to bowl Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, sixth ball for nought, a late outswinger and a suitable way to go past Fred Trueman's landmark of 307 Test wickets. On the balcony, David Saker, England's bowling coach, really did lick his lips with pure delight.
Before then, Steven Finn had made inroads by dismissing Shane Watson and Ed Cowan in successive balls. Watson's desire to dominate brought an edge to second slip; Cowan, who had been off the field with nausea for much of the day, added to the indiscretions by carving at a wide one; and Finn came within a whisker of a hat-trick by beating Clarke's outside edge.
Finn was preferred by England to Tim Bresnan and then took the new ball as Stuart Broad remained off the field for ice treatment on his right shoulder - which required a cortisone injection less than a week ago - after he was struck by a bouncer from James Pattinson. Australia will not be wishing him well.
Chris Rogers was Australia's stabilising element, just the man to provide an additional neutron or two, but he got too far across his stumps to Anderson in an effort to cover the outswing and was picked off lbw, his call for a review narrowly failing.
Siddle was Australia's inspiration. His hat-trick in Brisbane two years ago, and Test-best 6 for 54, proved to be a false dawn for Australia as England went on to win three Tests by an innings.
When he leaked 27 runs in four overs in a first, unrewarded spell, it was symptomatic of Australia's anxious start, but his switch to the Radcliffe Road end for a one-over spell before lunch brought immediate dividends when he found some late outswing to bowl Joe Root.
Clarke unsurprisingly turned to him once more immediately after lunch. Kevin Pietersen fell to a typically flamboyant drive, whereas Jonathan Trott's booming drive at a wide one left the batsman so appalled as he dragged on that he made as if to demolish the stumps in self-admonishment. Until then, he had played with great certainty for 48, milking Australia's attack through the leg side with regularity, but even he was struck by Ashes fever.
A fourth spell accounted for Ian Bell, who was defeated by an excellent outswinger. At 178 for 4, Bell and Bairstow had been close to confirming England's superiority. Instead, Bell left with a quizzical nose scrunching, recognition that for England, overwhelming favourites for the series, things were not exactly going to plan.
They went even more awry in Siddle's next over when Matt Prior, with only a single to his name, departed ten minutes before tea. Siddle banged one in short and wide and Prior's suitably belligerent response merely presented a catch to cover.
Australia's first wicket had been the one they most desired: Alastair Cook: Cook, a remorseless compiler of 766 runs in his last Ashes series, a series which he reflected ahead of this rubber "changed me as a cricketer". This time Australia removed him for 13 and they will pray that the number is a harbinger of ill luck all summer long.
The successful bowler was Pattinson. The ball was not particularly potent, pushed wide across Cook, but he edged a loose drive to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Cook sat on the balcony, alone, and no doubt pondered on the demands of captaincy at the start of an Ashes series. Clarke, several hours later, went through the same thought process.
Pattinson had expressed his desire to avenge England's ridiculing of his older brother, Darren, when his sole England Test cap went awry against South Africa in 2005.
On the ground where Darren made his name, James launched the series nervously with a wide and a bye - a loopy bouncer followed by a ball that swung down the leg side. But he does not lack for on-field aggression. His snarl was soon evident against Root, returned with a cheeky chappie smile that might have come straight out of an old-time English music hall. He might also have picked up Pietersen's wicket when Haddin narrowly failed to intercept a glance down the leg side.
Ashton Agar, a 19-year-old left-arm spinner on Test debut, had cause to be even more jittery. An Australian spinner on debut in an Ashes series cannot bowl a ball without being aware of Shane Warne's arrival into Ashes folklore. He began with the Ball of the Century; some act to follow. Agar, gum chewing furiously, delivered a low full toss which Trott gratefully punched to the cover boundary. But his tall, springy approach and stately action promised good things to come.
England, 185 for 6 at tea, succumbed rapidly at the start of the final session, losing their last four wickets for two runs in 14 balls.
Broad's fallibility against the hook shot was underlined when he unwisely tried to attack Pattinson; Bairstow, who had played enterprisingly for 37, considering that he has spent much of the past year as a drinks waiter, was bowled hitting across a full-length ball from Mitchell Starc; Finn gave Starc two in two, reviewing a catch at the wicket to no avail; and there was no late flourish from Swann who offered only a tame prod to cover.
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