England can take heart from Gabba green-top

The state of Graeme Swann's thumb may have occupied English thoughts in Perth, but over on the other side of Australia there came a more telling pointer as to what could await come 25 November and day one of the Ashes in Brisbane.

The verdict on Swann was "fine" – and it was certainly not enough to stop him tweeting – after England's first practice session since arriving Down Under. The WACA nets offered a quick surface but the venue for the third Test is not the speed track it once was and the seamers may find Brisbane more to their liking, especially after events there over the last couple of days.

A Sheffield Shield match at the Gabba lasted only two days with 30 wickets falling as New South Wales bowled out Queensland for 75 and 96. The first Test is regarded as the key to the series and with Swann giving England a huge advantage when it comes to spin, the pitch for the opener is likely to favour the quicker bowlers. Last weekend's game on a green surface certainly favoured swing with overcast conditions ensuring a torrid time for the home batsmen.

It was Mark Cameron, a 29-year-old quick bowler known as the Scud, who did the damage, taking 11 wickets – and he is now being touted as an outside bet for Ricky Ponting's side.

"It was very, very cloudy,'' said Cameron. "The wicket at the Gabba was a bit green, and it was that old saying of 'look up, not down at the Gabba'. The ball was swinging around. You couldn't get better bowling conditions, to be honest.''

The Gabba has received more rainfall than usual and the groundsman, Kevin Mitchell, said that much more unsettled weather could lead to similar conditions come the first Test. "If there are some cloudy and humid days then the moisture will stay in the wicket and the grass will continue to grow – that's what happens in the tropics. So it would be something that could possibly happen," he said. "We are hoping for 10 or 12 days including the duration of the match to have nice sunny days – if that happens it will be a fantastic match. If we don't get all that it will still be a fantastic match – you just won't see as many runs."

Australia have a daunting record in Brisbane, having not lost a Test there since 1988, and the first Test Down Under has set the tone for the last two series. In 2002, England lost by 384 runs – Nasser Hussain having put in Australia in the misguided expectation of a sporting pitch. And four years ago, England lost by 277 runs in the wake of Steve Harmison's infamous first ball.

England play their first warm-up game on Friday and Stuart Broad said yesterday that they would take on Western Australia at full tilt, with no thought of easing themselves into the tour. "We know what an important week this is," said Broad. "We're going to take the WA game very seriously, and try and get some really good preparation in before the first Test.

"I've got a competitive spirit. We know that Australia fight very hard and play cricket in the right way. It's international cricket, so you expect that. It's something I obviously need to find a good balance to. I know I bowl at my best when I'm in a bit of a 'bubble', emotional and competitive. I'd expect the Aussies to [look to] get under each of our players' skins. But that's not something we're scared of; it's something we're going to thrive on. There's a lot of confidence."

Countdown to the Ashes: 23

Australian batsmen have scored a total of 23 double-hundreds against England in the Ashes since the first Test in 1882, Sir Donald Bradman hitting eight. In comparison, England have recorded 11 double-centuries against the Aussies.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits