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from Left field:

Ashes day one: advantage Australia?

CRICKET-ASHES/

What an extraordinary first day of Test match cricket, even by Ashes standards. A day that ebbed and flowed, that tormented and teased both sets of supporters and ultimately left us with the question: where does the balance of this match lie?

As Kev notes, lunch for England would have been the equivalent of trying to digest tarmac, a disconcerting affair to say the least. Having won the toss and electing to bat England were reduced to 92-3 by a persevering if unspectacular Australian attack, which left the Barmy Army cowering behind their beer snakes fearing the worst.

Tea would have been sweeter -- "two more sugars please" -- after Pietersen and Collingwood put on a hundred runs for the loss of no wickets. If Pietersen batting is like watching an artist paint a masterpiece, then watching Collingwood is like sitting through a blacksmith beating a horseshoe into shape.

Then came an astonishing final session. Collingwood played at one outside off as unconvincingly as he'd hit a boundary a few balls earlier, and was snaffled by Haddin behind the timbers.

from Left field:

Where the Ashes will be won and lost

With the furore over Cardiff being awarded the first Ashes cricket test still bubbling, here’s a run down on each venue for England v Australia and how the results might pan out.

Cardiff: Starts Wednesday, July 8th
A controversial choice for the first test, given that Trent Bridge and Old Trafford were overlooked entirely, but we’ve been told to expect the wicket to turn sideways. Don’t be surprised to see: England field two spinners, Shane Warne drooling over the pitch … from inside the commentary box, Ricky Ponting cursing the fact his only spin front-line option is Nathan Hauritz and rain.

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