Start
spreading the news – the Ashes is going to be an absolute belter of a series but
let’s hope the next Test can stretch to five days.

Rarely
does wild anticipation of a major sporting event produce such an overwhelmingly
exhilarating opening encounter as that experienced overnight at Lord’s.

Thanks to some
top-quality fast bowling England first bowled out Australia for 190 in
just 40.2 overs, and then the Australian attack put England on its
knees 7-92 at stumps from only 37 overs. That was almost entirely due
to the ageless Glenn McGrath (5-21) wasting no time in capturing his
500th wicket. It was a bewildering experience watching firstly the
cream of Australia’s batting unravel against a searing onslaught from
an aggressive and talented England attack brilliantly led by Steve
Harmison (5-43), only to then see McGrath virtually single-handedly
destroy England to have them imploding at 5-25.

So the
respective attacks didn’t just grab the game and their opposition by the
collective throats, but remarkably sent 17 batsmen scurrying back to the
pavilion with some of them literally licking their wounds. Steve Harmison
managed to hit all three of our top order in the space of just 23 balls, as an
injured Justin Langer top scored with 40, and Ponting had his cheek cut by a
scorching delivery that hit his protective face guard.

But
when Ponting won the toss and elected to bat, he could not possibly have foreseen that the wicket would seam early under
overcast skies and later keep coming through at varying heights.

But for the second time in a fortnight, TV
viewers here in Australia had the surreal intrusion of a world gone mad as London’s public transport was again the
target for bombs. How do
you get your head around such a tumultuous first day Test match for cricket’s
greatest prize where almost half the match wickets have already fallen, while
also dealing with the reality of a city under the kind of attack that makes the
Ashes pale into total insignificance?

Peter Fray

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