England were reminded, as if they needed reminding, just how arduous this Ashes campaign will be on the second morning of the series. Desperate for early wickets and repeatedly denied by a combination of factors including human error, technological wizardry and plain old luck, their relief was barely confined when the breakthrough at last arrived. They had an Australia wicket in the series; they needed just 19 more to win the first Test.
The tourists tried every trick in the book and went into volume two but somehow Australia's openers survived for long enough. Even when the tourists at last thought they had a wicket they were denied by the decision review system. If that seemed a cruel blow after a series of near-misses it was also a tribute to the use of gizmos.
Simon Katich, the Australian left-hander, was beaten by Jimmy Anderson's late swing and adjudged leg before by umpire Billy Doctrove. Katich decided to ask for a review and replays showed that the ball would have gone over the top. Katich was reprieved, England denied.
Shortly after, with the score at 78, Shane Watson was given not out leg before to Anderson and England decided to ask for a review. The ball was shown only to be shaving leg stump and the umpire's original verdict was therefore upheld. By then England must have wondered if a wicket would ever arrive but to the next ball, Watson (36), stuck on the crease, was held at slip by Andrew Strauss. Joy at last.
Neither Katich nor Watson looked wholly comfortable as the ball moved just enough in humid conditions but they were not submitting easily. In quick succession, the tourists, who desperately needed a wicket, might have had three. Anderson appealed loudly for a catch behind off Katich in his first over of the day and there was definite deviation.
Umpire Aleem Dar decreed that it was not out and after making a series of correct calls on the first day was again proved right. Replays showed the ball had touched the flap of Katich's back pad.
An inside edge saved Watson at the other end when Broad went up for lbw as his late inswinger almost breached the batsman's defences. But England's clearest opportunity arrived when Katich pushed Anderson into the covers and set off for a single. Sent back (understandably) by his partner, he was well short of his ground as Alastair Cook gathered.
Katich scrambled back but was well short as Cook's throw began its journey. It missed by inches and on such lapses are series decided. Watson had another escape when Broad produced a beauty of a short ball which reared up towards his throat. Both his feet were off the ground when the ball struck him on the shoulder and was rolling towards the stumps before the batsman, recovering his senses well, kicked it away.
Before the first hour was up, Steve Finn was brought into the attack for his first over in an Ashes Test. It was to be a harsh introduction. He found a consistent line elusive and when he strayed in length Watson immediately pounced to unleash a ferocious on drive.
If Finn, like his pace colleagues, was slightly too short, he was also driven too easily when he searched for something fuller as Watson illustrated again when he twice pounced on half-volleys to drive through the off side to the boundary. When Watson was at last undone by Anderson's perseverance he was replaced by Ricky Ponting who was cheered to the echo all the way to the crease.Reuse content