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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 05:35 GMT
First Test, day one as it happened

FIRST TEST, DAY ONE (CLOSE): Australia 346-3 v England

Ricky Ponting scores his 32nd Test hundred as Australia are 346-3 at stumps on day one of the first Test.

THE DAY'S ACTION (times local to Brisbane - GMT+10)

By Ben Dirs



1733: Anderson has the dubious honour of bowling the last over of the day and is getting a touch of loop on the ball late on. Anderson doesn't make Hussey play at anything however - a mindless over that symbolises a dispiriting day from England's point of view. Anyway, I'm off for a slap up binge at the Big Plate Cafe with all the trimmings before a few hours in bed. Let's hope someone slaps some sense into Harmison before we meet again tomorrow. 346-3

1727: Hoggard strays on to Ponting's pads and Punter whips him through mid-wicket for a few. 346-3

1723: Harmison cuts a rather pathetic figure down at fine-leg and Lord alone knows what Fletcher and Flintoff will say to him over dinner. Maybe they should take him down the Pig and Whistle in Brisbane and get him absolutely rubbered - he can't bowl any worse tomorrow than he has today and nine or 10 Bundaberg rums might focus the mind. 344-2

1719: Hoggard replaces Flintoff after just one over and there's just the one single from it. 342-3

1715: Harmison, loosening up forlornly, is overlooked for the new ball and Anderson takes it instead. His second ball drops short and Ponting pulls it for four. Harmison has not bowled since 2.11pm. Hussey is now 61, Ponting 134. 341-3

1710: Umpire Bucknor waves the new cherry high above his head and sanity is restored. Flintoff, still game after all this time, will have first go with it. Just one single from the over. 333-3

1703: It's all a bit surreal at the Gabba at the moment. A new conker has been available to England for three overs now but still Pietersen and Giles are on. Hussey gets down on one knee and sweeps Pietersen for four. 332-3

1700: Still Giles. Ponting's got the smile turned up full beam now. Hussey attempts a sweep and very nearly drags it on to the stumps. But doesn't... 328-3

1658: Pietersen continues and it looks like Flintoff has the hand-break off and is just rolling towards stumps. 326-3

1655: The new ball is available but, depressingly, Giles is still in the attack. Harmison is still missing in action. 321-3

1653: Pietersen beats Hussey with one that grips and turns extravagantly. Another decent over from the Hampshire man. 320-3

1648: Three from Gilo's over and we're one away from the new ball - Harmy steaming in, arms pumping, his dander up, sniffing the air for Aussie blood. If you've just woken up, sorry, that's not going to happen. 320-3

Batsman scores 50
1644: Shadows lengthening at the Gabba as Pietersen continues with his twirlers. Hussey brings up his fifth Test fifty from his 94th ball faced. Rock solid. 317-3

1641: Giles is soldiering on, he's been a little trooper. Mind you, so have I: I've written almost 6,000 words so far today. My dissertation wasn't much longer than that. I made most of that up as I went along as well. If only I'd taken it more seriously, I might not be here having my spirit crushed. Three from Gilo's over. 313-3

1637: Two from Pietersen's over. 310-3

1633: Just one from Freddie's over. Manful stuff Freddie, manful. People sending in poetry at 6.30 in the morning. Crackers, absolutely crackers. 308-3

"They have taken the Hill from the Gabba So the Barmies have nowhere to sing And Geoffrey is 'tekin no pleasure' At bowling no pace and no swing.

And nobody's told poor old Harmi' He's supposed to be hitting the sticks Not trying to poleaxe poor Freddie - They're not targets, you fool, they're the slips!

And men now abed here in England Be thankful that you cannot see How Ponting is smashing poor Hoggard - Now Pietersen's twisted his knee.

It's five to six and it's raining; The Aussies 280 for three; Now you tell me that Pietersen's bowling That's it - I give in - bed for me."
Phillip Pritchard from Birmingham in the TMS inbox

1629: Pietersen beats Hussey with a wicked turner. He's looking a bigger threat than Giles at the moment, but then so might my nan, and she's been toes-up for 10 years. 307-3

1626: Flintoff is back on for his first spell after tea. Ponting goes walkabout in front of his stumps and Flintoff goes up for an optimistic lbw. Ponting then runs four from a leg-stump half-volley. 306-3

1621: Pietersen gets another one to turn away from Hussey. Still another 18 overs to bowl tonight, I'm going to be clobbering Auntie Beeb for some serious overtime. Ponting brings up Australia's 300. 300-3

1618: Nothing looks like shifting Hussey. He's like a ruddy limpet and Hoggard has rarely looked so impotent. 296-3

1614: There are a few heads down among the England fielders and they're hanging on for dear life now. Pietersen gets a couple to bite and spin away from Hussey. Warne will be licking his chops, inbetween smoking fags. 293-3

1610: Ponting pushes Hoggard to mid-wicket, where Anderson fields well diving to his right. Australia will be nudging 400 by stumps. 289-3

"There are only two bowlers who will come off at the end of the day and think, 'well, I couldn't have done much more today', and that's Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles."
Vic Marks, TMS summariser

1602: Pietersen is into the attack for a bit of gentle off-spin. He, like Bell, has one Test wicket to his name. Harmison is still missing in action somewhere, if that's not a paradox. Decent enough over, three from it. Players take drinks.286-3

1559: Just one from Hoggard's over. 283-3

1555: Hussey walks down the wicket and smashes Giles straight over his head for four. Giles gets his hand up and then thinks better of it and pulls it away. God I'm tired now, this is eye-watering stuff for the England faithful.282-3

Batsman scores 100
1552: Ponting takes a quick single to Harmison at mid-off and the Durham man fumbles. Hoggard drops short and Hussey punches him away for three. Pietersen gets coated by the fans next to the boundary rope. Ponting brings up his 32nd Test ton with a whip through mid-wicket for three. It's his ninth Test century in his last 13 Tests and his sixth versus England. Frightening. 277-3

1546: Hussey loves his scampered singles and gets Ponting back on strike and within one four of his ton. 270-3

1540: Ponting whips Hoggard through mid-wicket to move to 95. 266-3

"It's just a flat pitch, a worker's pitch, and you just have to strangle players out and not get downhearted. So if Australia get a score well over 450, it's not the end of the world."
Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser

1538: Hussey goes for a run and Flintoff, standing at short mid-wicket, shies at the stumps, but Hussey makes his ground. 262-3

1535: Bell is into the attack. Bizarre. His one Test wicket came at Faisalabad last winter. Ponting goes for a wide one and gets a thick outside edge for four before timing Bell through mid-on for another boundary. England need to root out another one here. 260-3

1529: Ponting brings up the fifty partnership off Giles. Good over from the England spinner though. 248-3

1523: England are shuffling their fielders around, perhaps trying to get under Ponting's skin. Joyce is on for Hoggard at the moment. Anderson drops short and Hussey slams him over mid-wicket for four. 246-3

1522: Just two singles from Gilo's over. He's doing an honest, if decidedly unspectacular, job for England. 240-3

1518: Anderson beats Ponting outside the off-stump. That hasn't happened too often today. Ponting plays a barbaric pull off the front foot for four. 238-3

1514: Giles has a big shout for lbw against Ponting turned down by umpire Bowden. The Barmy Army think the Aussie skipper has gone, as Bowden raises his arm to scratch his cheek at an extremely inopportune moment. Did he change his mind mid-raise? 232-3

1511: Just two from Anderson's over, a plugging one from the Lancashire man. 231-3

1507: Hussey takes a quick single and Harmison could have run Ponting out with a direct hit. Pietersen is keeping us all guessing, he's back on again. Bit of a drama queen our Kevin, maybe he just wants a bit of attention.229-3

1504: Players are back out and the good news for England is that Pietersen is with them. Ponting slams his front foot down the pitch and cracks Anderson straight for four. Ponting then rocks back and cuts the Lancashire seamer away for another boundary. Pietersen is off again, looking a little ginger. 226-3

"I'd be very surprised if two Australians didn't get hundreds. The Kookaburra ball doesn't do anything, which is why you need a good wrist spinner in your team. We've got two young ones at Yorkshire now, one of them will be in the England team in a few years time." Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser

1439: The 'King of Spain' sticks one on a very un-regal length and Ponting gives it the hammer to move to 62. The umpires remove the bails and the players scoot off for some sticky buns and stuff, or whatever rubbish this mob eat nowadays. 217-3

1432: Pietersen tweaks his left knee fielding in the covers, and for a moment it looks like he's done himself some serious mischief. The England physio is on and he shepherds Pietersen off the field. The good news for England fans is that it looks precautionary, he's walking gingerly rather than hobbling about. 209-3

1430: Hussey uses his feet to Giles and whips him through mid-wicket for four. England are bouncing about in the field now, sensing that they're in contention, if not on a par with Australia. 208-3

1423: Flintoff serves Hussey up some chin music. Welcome to Ashes cricket big man. Hussey then leaves one that almost sends his off-stump cartwheeling. Hussey then leans into one and the ball races to the long-on boundary. It's 200-up for the hosts. 203-3

1418: WICKET Australia 198-3 (Martyn 29)
Gilo breaks through, Martyn making room and top-edging a dolly to Collingwood at slip. Collingwood looks to the manner born behind the stumps and England manage to nudge the door slightly ajar once more just as it looked like it was about to be jammed shut. Hussey survives the rest of the over.

"I keep hearing references to how late it is in the UK, things like 'I'm sure you're all stifling yawns'. The thing is, for myself and many other students, this sort of hour is when we're most in our element. My sleeping patterns last week were ridiculous; usually I got to bed at about 9am and then woke up at 5pm..."
Ned Pendleton of Leamington Spa in the TMS inbox

1414: Flintoff is back on for his third spell, obviously mindful he's the only one who's looked like getting a wicket. Ponting picks up a couple to mid-wicket, but it's another over of intent from Flintoff. It's going to be a long, hot winter for the England skipper...198-2

1411: Ponting looks like he's deliberately holding himself back against Giles, content just to nudge and nurdle - for now. 194-2

1409: Martyn paddles a short one from Harmison through the covers for two and follows up with a peachy drive for three to bring up the fifty partnership. 192-2

1406: Maiden over from Gilo - Ponting surprisingly watchful at the moment. 187-2

1404: Another maiden from Harmison, but he's hardly giving the Australian batsman any problems. 187-2

"Gilo's lost an awful lot of weight, I think he's on the Cambridge diet, the one that Botham sometimes goes on. He is a different shape. Blowers would struggle to call him a wheelie bin at the moment."
Jonathan Agnew, TMS commentator

1358: Time for the King of Spain to strut his stuff. Martyn takes an early liking, sauntering down the wicket and lofting him over mid-on for four. Dreamy late cut by Martyn and Strauss just stops the four at third man. 187-2

Batsman scores 50
1357: Harmison digs in a bouncer and it balloons well over Ponting's head for a wide. Ponting brings up his 50 from just 65 balls with a push to mid-wicket. Better from Harmison, but you won't see a more effortless half-century in your life as that from the Aussie skipper. 180-2

1351: Bit airy-fairy that by Martyn, driving away from his body straight to Pietersen at point. He gets three with a similar shot next ball. 177-2

1345: Ponting tucks Harmison, slipping down the leg-side, away for one. Harmison looks to have found some rhythm at long last, like a train which was bouncing along the tracks suddenly slipping into a groove. 171-2

"It's slightly dispiriting that a Harmison maiden over should elicit such euphoria among his team-mates..."
Vic Marks, TMS summariser

1342: One from Hoggy's over and the big, weird drink car crashes over the boundary and the players take on energy. 169-2

"Ponting is seeing the ball like a big Queensland mango at the moment. Although there are good signs from England, they're showing a bit of resolve."
Tim Lane, TMS commentator

1334: Harmison bowls possibly his first decent delivery of the day, getting Martyn to fence outside outside off-stump. MAIDEN OVER FROM HARMISON, ATTENTION, MAIDEN OVER FROM HARMISON. 168-2

1329: Hoggard, still striving for some swing, is wheeled back into the attack. Can he be the man to put his hand up for England? Martyn tucks Hoggard away for three, Harmison sticking out a big clown's boot on the fine-leg boundary. Ponting then rocks back to a long-hop and pulls the ball to the boundary. The Aussie skipper's in some nick. 168-2

1328: Harmison is back into the attack. This is pretty much crunch time for him. His second ball, short outside off-stump, is given the full welly by Martyn. The rest of the over is better though, just one from it. 160-2

1322: The Barmy Army go up for a crowd catch, Ponting cracking the ball into the ground and Pietersen pulling the ball in at backward point. Ponting then flicks the ball away and a Hoggard mis-field allows the boundary. Thought he'd done himself a mishief there, a la Simon Jones. Martyn gets off the mark with a square-cut for three to bring up Australia's 150. Anderson then plops one short and Ponting drags him to the mid-wicket boundary. Pressure released for the hosts. 155-2

1317: Harmison is off the field, replaced by Plunkett. Not sure what, if anything, the problem is. Flintoff is not letting Martyn get off the mark easily - another maiden. 143-2

"The sooner they crack the secret of human cloning and we can have 11 Freddies the better..."
Rob Dipper from Manchester in the TMS inbox

1310: Anderson slices Ponting in half with one that jags back, but it misses everything. Just two from the over - Anderson's doing his bit. 143-2

1308: Martyn still not off the mark, Flintoff building a bit of pressure up. Geoffrey Boycott reckons he's vulnerable to a bit of short stuff. Where's Harmison...? 141-2

"Very elegant player Martyn, he scores runs without you even noticing. He's had a public fall-out with Dennis Lillee by the way, he says he's lost all respect for him..."
Jonathan Agnew, TMS commentator

1303: A maiden from Anderson, keeping Ponting honest for an over at least. 141-2

1259: WICKET Australia 141-2 (Langer 82)
Flintoff's done it again, Langer driving straight to Pietersen at cover-point. Pietersen's first Ashes catch after six spillages in 2005. That's a gimme for England and the tourists are clinging on. Martyn is next batsman, and he defends the first ball comfortably.

1256: Flintoff has Langer nibbling at one and Ponting is almost caught in the gully, but the ball evades a sprawling Giles. Freddie gives Ponting a few verbals.

1255: Umpire Bowden has another look at the ball before tossing it back to Anderson. Not sure what's wrong with it - we're not in for another dose of Hair-Gate? Security have confiscated a giant, green and gold beach ball - not the most dangerous of weapons. I had a knife pulled on me at Headingley once - no one bothered confiscating that off the bloke at the gate. Langer plays a glorious cover-drive off Anderson for four before Ponting times the ball through mid-wicket for another boundary. 135-1

1246: Ponting plays a false stroke off Flintoff, getting a thickish outside edge which is well stopped by Gilo in the gully. Stroke of the day from Ponting, driving Flintoff to the long-on boundary. The Aussie skipper looks in ominous form, he's already seeing it like a beach ball. 124-1

1240: Players are back out after lunch and Anderson will have first go with the ball. Langer gets his first boundary after the restart, carving Anderson to the backward point boundary and follows up with a cover-drive for four. Round the wicket chaps? It worked back in Blighty. 118-1

"I thought Harmison should have bowled in Adelaide, it seemed strange to me. He should have bowled, and if he broke down, so be it, because he's not worth his place in the side..."
Jonathan Agnew, TMS commentator

"Against South Australia, I heard Darren Lehmann got one from Panesar first up and thought 'geez, this is going to be interesting'. But Panesar then proceeded to bowl rather flat, so he didn't take his chance."
Former Australian fast bowler Damien Fleming on TMS

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"I take the point of Hoggard having to bat at number 8 if Panesar plays, BUT if the top seven batsmen in the team can't perform then I believe one more batsman won't make much difference."
James Hall in the TMS inbox

1202: Gilo is on to bowl his first Test over since last November. Can he get some success just before lunch? Ponting defends the first three balls and sweeps the fourth for a single. Just one from the over and it's round one to Australia. I'm off for a spot of tea, but don't go away...109-1

1157: Hoggard back on from the Vulture Street end. Langer runs his first ball away for four through gully to bring up Australia's 100. The next ball is tickled down to fine-leg for another boundary. Hoggard clutches his head after the next ball, which he expected to nip back and clean Langer up. Ten from the over, England need another one and fast. 108-1

1152: Langer attempts an expansive drive off Flintoff - unconvincing. The England skipper has been by far the best bowler so far, but he'll have to give himself a breather soon. One from the over. 98-1

"Thanks to your wonderful coverage, I am providing updates for my friends at Eastbourne Uni. Your coverage is also stopping me going mad from writing an article about the history of Fiorentina Football Club..."
Oliver Jones in the TMS inbox

1147: Langer plays a dreadful attempted drive off Harmison, whips his helmet off and gives himself a ticking off. Ponting gets off the mark with a majestic pull for four which almost decapitates umpire Bucknor and follows up with a dreamy back-foot drive to the extra-cover boundary. 97-1

1143: Langer gets a brute from Flintoff, who gets one to spit off a length. The England skipper's got his dander up, and, my God, England need him to. Langer's developed a funny old leave, twirling his wrists as the ball passes by. 86-1

1138: Langer latches on to a shortish one from Harmison and runs three. Ponting on strike. Better from Harmison, who's nudging 90mph on the speedo, and then breaks through the magic mark. 82-1

1130: WICKET Australia 79-1 (Hayden 21)
Flintoff makes the breakthrough, Hayden edging him to Collingwood at second slip. Flintoff goes ruddy beserk - at least he's up for it. Skipper Ponting strides to the middle. He looks more and more like George W Bush this boy. Ponting survives the over.

Batsman scores 50
1129: Fifty for Langer, only his second in Tests since last year's Ashes. He's delighted with that.

1128: Over-pitched from Harmison and Langer piles into it for a few. Langer almost plays on attempting a cut and thinks he's got his 50 next ball, but it's a leg-bye. 78-0

1124: Come on Freddie, time for a bit of the old Superman act. Not much singing at the Gabba, certainly not from the Barmy Army, just contented chatter. The Aussie openers look well and truly dug in. Two from the over. 73-0

Email us at - Aggers and Vic Marks will be answering your posers during the lunch break

1118: Harmison is back on, to applause from both Aussie and England fans. Flintoff has removed himself - he'll probably have a dart from the other end. Hayden drags Harmison's first ball away for a couple. Harmison's second ball is two feet outside off-stump and the Durham man is drawing some boos now. Whether from the Aussie or England fans, it's unclear. 71-0

1113: Langer laces a full-length Anderson delivery through the covers for four and the Queensland crowd purr in admiration. Anderson tries out a bouncer and umpire Bucknor signals wide. Harmison's stretching up, looks like he'll take next over. 68-0

"What the hell is Harmison doing out there? He hasn't bowled well for two years, I think we all have to realize he's finished. Stuart Broad should be taken out of the Academy right now."
Rob Chard in the TMS inbox

1107: Flintoff slings one down the leg-side, Jones gets a glove to it, but it's three leg-byes. Langer picks up three runs to gully. 63-0

"What's happening with the England backroom staff? Why is Harmison still bowling rubbish?"
Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser

1103: Langer plays an unconvincing cut shot which dribbles to gully before almost nibbling on an Anderson delivery. A maiden and players rush for drinks. It has, without any shadow of a doubt, been Australia's opening hour. 57-0

1058: It's Freddie time, probably earlier than he would have wanted. His first ball is tucked away by Hayden and Anderson misses with a wild shie at the stumps as the Aussie batsmen scamper a single. Flintoff immediately settles in round the wicket to the left-handers and Cook is installed at short leg. Flintoff bounces Langer and the ball is hooked away for a single. Probing stuff from Flintoff. 57-0

1048: Anderson drops short and Langer brings up Australia's 50 with a murderous cut. Anderson tests Langer with a bumper which the batsman bounces clear of. Langer, of course, has not played in Tests since being hit on the head by South Africa's Makhaya Ntini in April. 51-0

1045: Hayden plays another sketchy drive and the ball flies over gully for another boundary. England aren't having much luck here in all fairness. Langer throws the kitchen sink at the last ball of the over, but the ball is pulled up just short of the boundary. Langer gets three. 47-0

1040: It's all calmed down a bit at the Gabba thanks to some on-the-money stuff from Hoggard and Anderson. Anderson in particular is getting some decent lift. Australia's early onslaught seems to have been premeditated, and it worked, in that they've carted Harmison out of the attack. 40-0

1037: Hoggard gets one to spit off the wicket like fat from a frying pan, but Langer just pulls his bat out of the way. A maiden from Hoggard, dependable as ever. 40-0

1033: Anderson bowls a pretty good over apart from the last ball, which Langer drags away for a few. 40-0

1029: Flintoff has lobbed the ball to umpire Bowden - he clearly thinks there's something wrong with it. But umpire Bucknor has a look and tells England to get on with it.

1026: A little bit depressing this. Hoggard slings one down the leg-side and Hayden drags him round the corner for three. Hayden throws his bat at a wide one and the ball just eludes a diving Bell at gully. 37-0

"England look tentative and on edge and you're already starting to think, when's Freddie going to bring himself on?"
Vic Marks, TMS summariser

1019: Flintoff has pulled Harmison after just two overs. Round one Aussies? Anderson of Lancashire is into the attack and his first ball, pretty much a long-hop, is yanked for four by Langer. Langer plays another pull off Anderson, but only gets three for it. Pugnacious as ever, he's throwing his bat at everything. Anderson strays on to Hayden's pads (a bad place to stray) and the big man flicks him away for three. A chastening start for England.

"At 19 years old, it is a strange thought that, with my bottle of Holden's Golden Glow, TMS on the wireless and the newspaper in front of me, I have become my father. So much for student life!"
Tom Slater in the TMS inbox

1018: Hayden sticks a big size 12 down the pitch and creams Hoggard through mid-off for four. A decent enough over from Hoggard, but there's no swing, and that's a bad sign. 21-0

1011: Langer slices a drive and the ball beats Giles at gully and runs away for four. Sketchy. Langer is hit on the pad, but there's only a strangled lbw appeal from Harmison. Langer then carves Harmison away for another four. 17-0

1007: Yorkshire's Hoggard gets next go with the ball. Will it swing for him? It has to. His first ball is left by Hayden outside off-stump. Hayden plays a fine off-drive and Pietersen makes a good diving stop. Hoggard then has Hayden playing an ugly drive and almost gets a caught-behind. Interesting. A maiden. 9-0

1002: Harmison bowls the first ball of this Ashes series - and it's an absolute shocker, taken by Flintoff at second slip. Good grief...The second is little better, a couple of feet down Langer's leg-side. The third raps Langer on the pad, and the next has Langer playing defensively. Harmison almost yorks Langer next up, but the nuggety Aussie opener, falling forward, whips it away for four. Langer then gets an outside edge that runs away for four. A ropey old first over from Harmison. 9-0

1000: Hayden and Langer take to the field to rapturous applause. You might say the Aussie fans are up for this - it's more like a Premiership football match.

0958: England have won just four of 17 Tests at the Gabba - the last on the 86/87 tour. England take to the field and fall into a familiar huddle. The old butterflies are fluttering now...

"Aggers, have you ever taken your laptop to bed instead of your Emma?"
Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser

"Jones is under a lot of pressure. He can't afford to drop Hayden or Ponting on nought - it'll all go downhill from there..."
Phil Tufnell, Radio Five Live

0951: God Save the Queen is sung by a delightful, raven-haired Aussie and gets maximum respect from the Gabba crowd. A phalanx of female singers is wheeled out for the Aussie anthem. There's something very military about all this.

0946: Time for the national anthems. Geez, these Queenslanders are a patriotic lot. Former wicket-keeper Ian Healy, a Queenslander, and English legend Ian Botham, carry the flags to the middle.

0945: Who's going to open the bowling for England? Anderson could get a bit of swing early on, and maybe he'll take the new ball with Harmison.

0943: I hear Harmison's parents, girlfriend and a few buddies are out in Brisbane with him, so he should be in good fooling anyway.

0940: The last time Australia batted first at the Gabba four years ago, it was the preface to one of the most depressing five or six hours of my life. Simon Jones busted a knee and Australia had pretty much won the game by stumps. Come on Harmy, stick it up 'em son.

"The first hour it might nip around so we're not too dejected. The first 10 overs we've got to get it in the right area. We don't take gambles at this stage. Ashley's prepared well and bowled a lot of overs in the nets."
England skipper Andrew Flintoff

0932: Australia skipper Ricky Ponting chooses tails at the toss, wins it and chooses to have a bat. We'll learn sooner rather than later whether Duncan Fletcher has made a blunder in including Gilo over Panesar.

0927: Stuart Clark is given the nod over Mitchell Johnson in Australia's starting Xl. Less pace than Johnson, but Clark took a stack of wickets in South Africa - 20 in three Tests at 15.85.

0918: It's bubbling up nicely at the Gabba, the Barmy Army getting in some early sparring with the locals. Not many of you agree with Giles' inclusion. I'm getting excited now - got myself strapped in for the next nine hours.

"Do you really want Hoggard coming out at number eight with England on 260-6? Giles is not Don Bradman, but he is more than capable of hanging around in that situation, as he did on a couple of notable occasions last year."
Jonathan Agnew, TMS commentator

"By chance, I was walking through the maze of rival packs of fans when the England team bus reversed into its garage in the bowels of the Gabba.

Alastair Cook was white with nerves, and there weren't any smiles or waves. Freddie was the only relaxed member of the team, standing at the front chatting away. In the ground, I can see about 10 St George Cross flags already. As is tradition, the names of local towns are inscribed in black ink.

Freddie's Preston mob are here in force, there's some Durham support and more from Weymouth on the south coast."
Oliver Brett, BBC Sport in Brisbane

0912: No word yet on the Australia team, but we're not expecting any surprises. It's quite possible they can't speak yet as they're all doubled up laughing on hearing of Giles' inclusion.

"Panesar left out! Fletcher needs to resign. We must pick the best specialist players!"
Pete Herridge, Bristol, in the TMS inbox

0905: Bell is to bat at three for England, with Pietersen coming in at four. Collingwood tucks in at five, just ahead of skipper Flintoff.

0902: Has England coach Duncan Fletcher blinked before a ball has even been bowled? As predicted, Giles, who hasn't played a Test for over a year, has been included instead of Panesar. Giles has bowled only 31 competitive overs on this tour. Ideal preparation for an Ashes battle?

0900: England name their starting XI for the first Test in Brisbane - and Ashley Giles has got the nod over Monty Panesar:

England Xl: Strauss, Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood, Flintoff (capt), Jones, Giles, Harmison, Anderson, Hoggard





Countdown to Australia v England
22 Nov 06 |  England
Bell hands England fitness boost
22 Nov 06 |  England


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