Ball One – In yet another role reversal in a series of characterised by them, England start days with an intensity that suffuses all that they do. From Prior’s spectacular early take , the appeal to which was overturned on appeal, to Tremlett, in for his first Test in years and instantly relaxed in his approach to the crease, England have looked, as the phrase goes, on it.
Ball Two – Of course any batsman can get out early, but as captain and vice-captain, Punter and Clarke played shots utterly devoid of the discipline the match situation demanded. If The Ashes are retained by England, those two dismissals may be the leitmotif of the series in the way the Harmison ball proved the signature moment of 2006-7.
Ball Three – Betraying his lack of first class experience, Steve Smith went hard at the ball too soon after lunch giving away all his good work prior to the break and edging the impressive Tremlett to slip for a regulation catch. After years of churning out technically proficient cricketers, the evidence provided by Hughes and Smith in this match (and earlier, by Doherty) suggests that Shield and Grade cricket is not the hothouse it once was. Or, with this Australian XI boasting only Ponting, Hussey, Haddin and Clarke with 100 first class matches (a figure reached by every England player except Steve Finn), perhaps Australians just don’t play enough.
Ball Four – Is the pitch fast or slow? On the one hand, it looks slow, since pulls and cuts have gone mainly well in front of square: on the other, Tremlett and Swann have got the ball through quickly, with Prior taking plenty of deliveries above head height from the sinewy Surrey seamer. Another interpretation would diagnose the pitch as two-paced, but that would be most unusual for a first day wicket in Australia.
Ball Five – After Tea, England looked quiet, wilting a little in the heat, with Anderson jogging in and Mitchell Johnson giving it some long handle. Suddenly, two wickets went down and England showed, yet again, the invaluable ability to make something happen when least expected and most needed.
Ball Six – Early days yet, but in a tight selection call, England’s think tank went for Tremlett over Bresnan and he repaid them handsomely, with pace, accuracy and wickets. After the Trott debut in 2009, it looks like England have pulled another rabbit from the hat at a crucial time in The Ashes. The much vaunted attention to detail that characterises the Strauss – Flower regime is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.