Test diary...by Stephen Brenkley

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The Independent Online

Shaun Tait became the 16th cricketer to make his Australia Test debut at Trent Bridge and the first since 1981. If he emu-lates one of the two men who played their first matches in that year, he will consider himself to have had a rewarding career. Terry Alderman went on to take 170 Test wickets, 100 of them against England, 83 in England on two tours.

Tait would not wish to have the same fate as Alderman's fellow debutant. Trevor Chappell played only three Tests, and his claims to fame remain having two high-achieving brothers and bowling underarm in a one-day match to prevent New Zealand hitting a six to win.

The only other English ground on which more Australians have made their Test debut is Lord's, and 12 of those 21 played in the 19th century. The reason for the high total in Nottingham is that it was for years the venue for the First Test in an Ashes series. The fact that Tait was summoned bespoke grave worries in the camp.

A way to cover options

One way (the only way?) to get a ticket for this Test match is to become one of groundsman Steve Birks' temporary helpers. Some 20 of them come from round the country (and two from Australia) for the Test, helping with the covers. They have been with Birks since he arrived eight years ago and include two librarians, a university professor and a journalist.

Beware the Ashes debut

Since 1989, when the Ashes changed hands, 10 Australians have made their debuts against England. Six have played 10 Tests or fewer. England, often chasing an impossible dream, have given first caps to 23 men against Australia in those 16 years. Thirteen have gone on to play 10 times or fewer, 12 of them under five. Tait is the 392nd cricketer to play for Australia. Kevin Pietersen, England's debutant this summer, was their 626th. England's 392nd first played in 1959. He was John Mortimore.

A rare England clanger

For most of the series, the home side have tactically outsmarted the tourists. The apotheosis of this seemed to have arrived when the scorecards were issued on the first day of the match with Matthew Hoggard at No 6 in the batting order.

What cunning ploy had Messrs Vaughan and Fletcher in store? Turned out to be a cock-up. The scorecard printers had looked at England's first innings from Old Trafford where Hoggard went in at No 6 as nightwatchman and assumed this was his position. Hence the Nottingham scoreboards showed Flintoff, the No 6, as No 7 and Hoggard, the No 9, as No 6. This, of course, is how the phrase at sixes and sevens began.

Nelson strikes again

Who said Nelson - the figure 111 - was a misguided superstition? Marcus Trescothick was bowled with England's total on 111 only for Brett Lee's delivery to be signalled as a no ball. But there was no escape: he was eventually bowled by the 111th ball he faced. Meanwhile, the luckless Michael Kasprowicz at last took his first wicket to make his figures 1 for 111.

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