Andrew Strauss chuckled on the eve of the Test when asked the inevitable question about Steve Harmison's Gabba shocker back here in 2006. "I don't think it's overly helpful to mention that first ball four years ago," he said, although the issue was less the fact that Harmison missed the cut strip with that infamous delivery, but rather what it said about the nerves that take hold at the start of such a massive series. And as it turned out, even a player as phlegmatic as Strauss couldn't keep on top of his emotions - or the ball - as the series started with its now-inevitable bang. The first two balls were negotiated safely enough, but the third was shorter and straighter, and climbed off the deck as Strauss sized up the cut. Mike Hussey at gully didn't twitch a muscle as the ball thudded into his palms, and suddenly the serenity of England's start to the tour had been obliterated.
Slipping through the spinner's fingers
Xavier Doherty's introduction to Test cricket was going pretty well in the circumstances. His first delivery, in the 21st over, gripped on a good length and turned back in to Alastair Cook, who left it watchfully outside off stump, and within three balls he was jousting with Kevin Pietersen, the man whose fallibility against left-arm spin is one of the major reasons why Doherty had been preferred ahead of the offie Nathan Hauritz. Though Pietersen came after him right from the start, the rookie was holding his own ... but one ball after completing his second over, he was jolted out of his comfort zone. Cook, on 26, squirted a cut off Watson towards point, but Doherty's leap was fractionally mistimed. He got both hands to the offering, but nothing more, and a priceless breakthrough went begging. Ricky Ponting, to his credit, rushed up to give his young charge a quick pep-talk, before striding purposefully back to business.