England edge day one in rain hit Sydney

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The Independent Online

Tim Bresnan could afford a wide smile in the Sydney rain as he continued to make the most of his new home from home down under.

Bresnan added two more big wickets on day one of the final Test to the five he took on his first Test of the tour in Melbourne last week, as England restricted Australia to 134 for four.



Rain and bad light shortened proceedings to just 59 overs, in which three Australia batsmen got set but none could reach 50.



Bresnan bagged opener Shane Watson and stand-in captain Michael Clarke, after the latter had made a perhaps marginal decision to bat first under heavy cloud cover.



Reverse-swing on an abrasive surface helped Bresnan break Australia's resistance with three second-innings wickets at the MCG, after he had played his part first time round in hustling them out for only 98.



With the Ashes therefore retained, England need to merely avoid defeat here to win the Ashes outright in Australia for the first time in 24 years.



Bresnan tests Australian resolve, whatever the conditions, but was delighted with the ones which prevailed today.



Asked if this SCG pitch reminded him of Headingley, the Yorkshireman made it clear he hardly sees that venue as a bowlers' paradise.



"There's a massive misconception about Headingley," he said.



"It doesn't matter what the weather's doing. The Test pitch does a bit, but the county pitches don't do a great deal - no matter how hard we beg for one with a bit of grass on.



"But I think these were very English conditions we got today."



Australia appeared programmed to take no risks on their way to 55 without loss, until Phil Hughes fenced an edge to third slip off Chris Tremlett from the last ball before lunch.



"They played really, really well this morning - especially with it moving as it was," said Bresnan.



"All credit to them and how they played - especially Watson. He left well, and he played it on his eyes - which is a very English way of playing.



"But we bowled really well in the first session ... made them play in a way they are probably not used to ... forced them to play in their shells a little bit.



"A lot went past the bat, and we got inside-edges on to pads - so although they played really well, we were unlucky not to have them more down."



Watson was restricted to the extent he did not hit a boundary until into the afternoon, and the 89th ball he faced - and Bresnan announced afterwards that England would have put Australia in.



"We were definitely pleased (as bowlers) with the first use of that pitch," he added.



"I think we were going to bowl first anyway, the way it looked and the overhead conditions.



"We bowled well and we got our rewards, so why shouldn't it be like that?



"It's always good to get the first punch in, and I think we certainly did get the first punch in."



James Anderson had occasional trouble keeping his feet in delivery on a surface containing plenty of moisture.



But Bresnan lost his balance only when Kevin Pietersen somehow contrived to collide with him as the pair celebrated Clarke's wicket.



"If I'm brutally honest it's all Kev's fault," said the successful bowler.



"He's given me a high-five, then run straight across me - and we got our legs tangled up.



"I went down quite hard. It looked quite funny on the replay, but more embarrassment than anything luckily."



As for the out-of-form Clarke - who made just four in his first match as Test captain, deputising for the injured Ricky Ponting - Bresnan confirmed England still see him as a dangerous opponent.



They are likely to have to get used to viewing debutant Usman Khawaja likewise, after an impressive first Test innings from the 24-year-old - which ended in anti-climax when he mistimed a sweep at Graeme Swann to depart to what proved the last ball of a truncated day, thanks to returning rain.



Bresnan said of Clarke's dismissal: "It might have just bounced a touch on him, and he got the edge not where he wanted to play it.



"He's still a quality player. We respect him highly - he's just been a bit unlucky."



Having got Khawaja for a first-ball duck, for the second of his two failures for Australia A against England in Hobart last month, Bresnan nonetheless agreed: "He looks well organised.



"We've seen more of him today than in any of the digs in Hobart, so we refined our plans a little bit. He looks a good player."



Khawaja was naturally disappointed to get out.



He said: "I had a ball out there; I was having so much fun.



"I just wanted to stay out there as long as I could. I didn't want to come off."



As Australia's first Muslim Test cricketer, he is well aware many will attach an extra significance to his debut.



But he deflected that with a cheeky reference to his new team-mate Michael Beer, also making his first Test appearance here.



"You can make something up of anything.



"You could say Michael Beer is the first person who sticks his tongue out 24-seven to play for Australia."

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