Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
WCL 2 (1)
Ranji Trophy (2)
Nepal Tri-Nation (1)
PSL 2024 (2)
BAN v SL (1)
You dream of your first day as Test captain. The way Pat Cummins got here is not how he would have imagined, but it is the opening day of the Ashes. How does it play out? Would probably be nice to avoid a tricky decision at the toss. An early wicket would be great. A few scalps in your own tally would be a good start. What about seeing the opposition's best player falling for a duck. Let's not get carried away. Things don't run to a script like that.
Cummins said he "probably" would have batted had the coin fallen his way. We'll never know. It certainly was in the category of a handy one to lose with overcast skies, a green-tinged surface and two under-prepared batting line-ups. But it also meant he was immediately into the game, both in his new role and the one he has performed magnificently in for a long time.
Half an hour later, the pomp and ceremony completed, Mitchell Starc was at the top of his mark with 20,000 spectators behind him (minus the small contingent of local England fans) as, finally, after a bizarre build-up and still some uncertainty over how the rest of the series might play out, the first ball of the Ashes went down at 10am local time.
Over the wicket, full, was it slipping down the leg side? Rory Burns shuffled across, shaped to flick the ball off his pads, but got nowhere near it as the delivery snaked back and clattered into leg stump. For just the second time, a wicket had fallen to the first ball of a men's Ashes series. A penny for Cummins' thoughts in that moment… at least the printable ones.
Starc had been under some scrutiny leading in to the series after taking 11 wickets at 40.72 against India last season. He played through the emotional turmoil of knowing his father was gravely ill. As Burns' leg stump was splattered, the ground erupted and so did Starc as he peeled away in celebration. The vein in his neck looked ready to pop.
First overs of Ashes series do have a history of setting the tone, although when England lost a wicket in the opening over in 2010-11 - Andrew Strauss cutting to gully third ball - they would escape the Gabba with a draw and take the Ashes 3-1. It's only been one day, and let's not forget India were bowled out for 36 in Adelaide last year, but that feels a long way off.
Still, amid the heady scenes of Starc's first delivery, it was only one little part of the job done. As he flagged ahead of the game, Cummins did not give himself the new ball and went with Josh Hazlewood, who was immediately on the mark and soon made Dawid Malan play at one he could have left. A settling first Test catch for Alex Carey behind the stumps.
Joe Root walked in and Cummins made his first move. Starc was out of the attack after two overs. In the end, Cummins never bowled to his opposite number, who he has removed seven times in 11 Tests. Instead it was Hazlewood, another nemesis, who pushed his length up a smidgen fuller and found the outside edge, which was pouched first slip. The year's tally of 1455 runs was not extended. Hazlewood would take a break with figures of 7-4-3-2.
However, when Cummins did make his first impact, it was a statement. Coming around the wicket to Ben Stokes, England's second-best batter behind Root, he squared up the left-hander and Marnus Labuschagne took an excellent catch at third slip. Australia had picked out their catching as an area for improvement. They had made a good start.
England made it to lunch four down, but not much further. Cummins gave himself the first over after the interval and took Haseeb Hameed's edge.
Then there was a bit of a rally as Jos Buttler took on Hazlewood and Ollie Pope was sharp on the quick single. Australia had bought themselves considerable leeway with the early wickets, but it was the first counterpunch of the series. However, just when it looked like Buttler may thrive on his "nothing to lose" attitude, Starc slanted one across and Australia had their opening.
Despite being into the lower order, Cummins then threw the ball to Cameron Green, who had been given a brief bowl before lunch but was still waiting for that first Test wicket 46 overs into his career. With the first delivery of his second spell, he sent down a bouncer at Pope, who couldn't keep the hook down and it was brilliantly caught at long-leg by Hazlewood. There was a mixture of delight and relief on Green's face.
The rest was over in the blink of an eye. With the thunderclouds rolling in, Nathan Lyon was brought back on but couldn't nab No. 400. Although, really, it felt inevitable that with Cummins poised on four wickets the final one would go to the captain. And so it did, when Chris Woakes hooked and Hazlewood hauled in another superb take.
England all out 147. Cummins 13.1-3-38-5. A first Ashes five-wicket haul and walking off the field with the ball held aloft. How was that first day, Pat? "A dream start," he said.