Giles blames first-day nerves

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The Independent Online

Ashley Giles blamed nerves for England's under-performance on the first day at the Gabba.

"We've all been there before," he said. "It was the first day of a series, the first day of an Ashes series but you can't really prepare that well for it. You know you're going to be nervous and you've got to get yourself into it.

"We all arrived at the ground and all started the game nervous. Until you get into the game by having a bowl or a bat there's going to be some nerves there.

"I don't think that's contributed hugely to the score but this has been probably the most hyped series of any Ashes series. It's a great honour to play in it, but that adds extra pressure as well."

But Giles was confident England would bounce back. "The guys will keep their heads up," he said. "They are tired, but I know this England team and they will come out buzzing and we'll be looking to pick up some early wickets. This side doesn't lie down so I'm sure we'll be coming out fighting."

For the Australia captain, Ricky Ponting, who has had to endure 14 months of criticism since losing the Ashes to England at the Oval, his century was particularly satisfying.

"We've all been preparing ourselves for a long time for today as well so to be able to go out there and do it when it matters was nice," he said. "After the first ball of the day went to second slip I think we all had a bit more of a lift about us because that meant the English might have been a little bit nervous out there.

"Our openers really took toll of anything that was loose and got us off to a great start and I got in against not a very new ball and the wicket was good so it was nice to spend a long time out there."

Ponting picked out Justin Langer's innings for praise: "It was exactly what we needed, what he needed. He's been under a little bit of pressure. He said he felt it, and for him to come out and play the way he did today shows the sort of player he is and the sort of character he is."

Debate of the Day

Not for the first time, umpire Billy Bowden was involved in the action. He seemed to be about to give Ricky Ponting out lbw but instead scratched his eye with the trademark crooked finger. It deceived the crowd completely. Should umpires showboat?

Ball of the Day

All but a year since he last played, Ashley Giles had much to do to justify his place. His 26th ball back in Test cricket bounced and gripped a fraction off the pitch. It was sufficient to force Damien Martyn to cut in the air. The overlooked Monty Panesar could hardly have done better.

Shot of the Day

Ricky Ponting's straight drive to the boundary off Andrew Flintoff showed the highest class. Australia's captain had just come to the crease and there was nothing much wrong with the delivery. The stroke involved exquisite timing and assurance, and showed Ponting was preparing for a big innings.

Moment of the Day

The first ball of the most anticipated match of all, from Stephen Harmison, finished in second slip's hands - but not via the bat. It could have been called wide three times over and set a mood for the day.

Stephen Brenkley

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