Australia bounce back after return of the Edgbaston curse

Shades of McGrath in 2005 return as Haddin breaks finger moments before start

Australia experienced another Glenn McGrath moment at Edgbaston yesterday, but it was England who suffered a lot more pain on this occasion with all their fast bowlers put to the sword by new opener Shane Watson when the third Ashes Test finally beat the weather.

Four years ago, McGrath missed the second match of the series, having stood on a ball during his team's warm-up session, and nothing much went right for the Aussies after that. This time, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin had to be replaced by the uncapped reserve Graham Manou after fracturing a finger shortly before start of play.

England agreed to the switch – they could have refused because the teams had been announced and the toss had taken place – but that was just the start of the generosity shown by Andrew Strauss's team when play finally began at 5pm. It was the bowling of Messrs Anderson, Flintoff, Onions and Broad that really disappointed, especially against Watson, as Australia powered to 126 for 1 in just 30 overs.

Katich fell lbw to spinner Graeme Swann following a stand of 85. But the all-rounder Watson, surprisingly called up to replace Phillip Hughes and opening in a Test for the first time, completed an 89-ball half-century and, with Ricky Ponting for company, had reached 62 by the close.

Hughes announced his axing overnight on the social networking site Twitter, giving England several hours' unofficial notice and earning the 20-year-old a rap across the knuckles from Australia's management. But Watson appearing at the top of the order still surprised Strauss's men.

"I was a bit surprised [to see Watson opening]," Swann said. "I didn't know he was an opening batsman but he played like one today so all credit to him. After we've seen him play, we've got a much better idea of how he is going to bat and, hopefully, we can come up with something more useful.

England's new ball pair of Anderson and Flintoff were guilty of failing to make Katich and Watson play nearly enough – and, when they did demand attention, it was usually an invitation to hit a boundary through either pitching too full or too short.

"We weren't consistent enough and did not put the ball in the right place often enough," Swann said. "But we can take stock and look at where we are going to bowl, at Watson in particular, and I'm sure we'll come 100 per cent improved."

No wonder Australia ended the day a lot happier than when Haddin damaged his finger during catching practice. The Australia coach, Tim Neilsen, described England's action in allowing Manou to play as a "fine gesture". He was probably fairly pleased with the way they bowled, too.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory