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Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 18:35 UK

England make solid start to Ashes

First Ashes Test, Cardiff (day one, stumps):
England 336-7 v Australia
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave, Red Button and BBC Sport website, plus live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles. Live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard

Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen
Collingwood and Pietersen were together for more than two hours

By Oliver Brett

England finished day one of the 2009 Ashes series on 336-7 after Australia hit back with late wickets in Cardiff.

England were 90-3 before a 138-run stand between Kevin Pietersen (69) and Paul Collingwood (64) saw them recover.

Positive batting from Andrew Flintoff (37) and Matt Prior (56) sparked some life out of a generally quiet crowd.

But Peter Siddle ended their 86-run stand by bowling both inside the last four overs, leaving Australia with some momentum going into the second day.

Andrew Strauss's decision to bat first on winning the toss was expected, and he made a positive move in going with both spinners - it was the first time England had done so in a home Ashes Test since 1993.

Matt Prior
Prior batted with great intent in the final session

The big surprise was Ricky Ponting's decision to leave out seamer Stuart Clark, the leading wicket-taker in the 2006-07 Ashes and man of the match in the final Test at Sydney.

Australia's four-man attack had just 35 Test caps between them, with none of them against England.

After the players had stood around for about 20 minutes listening to Neath-born soprano Katherine Jenkins sing the Welsh national anthem, the British and Australian anthems were also belted out and Mitchell Johnson finally got the 2009 Ashes - the first Test in the sport's long history to be staged in Cardiff - under way.

Following Steve Harmison's wide to second slip at Brisbane in 2006, and his contrastingly ferocious burst 17 months at Lord's earlier, this was a more mundane opening, and the capacity crowd of 16,000 did not seem to lap it up.

With no pace in the wicket, and just a bit of swing and seam, Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus bowled too straight and struggled to find the right length, allowing Strauss and Alastair Cook to tick along smoothly enough.

But it was the briefest of honeymoons for Cook, lasting only until the last ball of the eighth over, when he played a half-hearted force off the back foot to a ball well wide of off-stump - and to the delight of the bowler Hilfenhaus, Michael Hussey dived expertly in the gully to take a fine one-handed catch.

The new batsman, Ravi Bopara, had to weather a stormy introduction to Ashes cricket - which included a nasty ball from Siddle which struck his throat.

Pietersen happy with first day

But he survived to play some of the day's most attractive shots, including an on-drive off Siddle to bring up England's fifty, and a square-drive off the same bowler for four more.

The ball was still hard enough to go through with reasonable pace, however, and two Johnson wickets before lunch left England on 97-3 and gave Australia a clear advantage.

The first of Johnson's victims was Strauss, who fell for 30. England's skipper had been dealing with the short ball really well before ducking out of a bouncer, which hit his gloves and looped to first slip.

Then Bopara was deceived on 35 by a Johnson slower ball, playing a checked drive through the covers far too early and looping a catch to point.

So it was left to Pietersen and Collingwood, well versed in establishing big partnerships against Australia, to alter the balance of power.

The two right-handers put on 153 together at Brisbane and a massive 310 at Adelaide - and in a middle session in which they faced plenty of spin bowling - showed a hunger for Ashes runs again.

Pietersen 'irresponsible' - Kasprowicz

Nathan Hauritz was swept for a barrage of singles by Pietersen, while Collingwood sought out gaps in other areas for his runs.

It did not trouble the two batsmen at all that 21 overs passed without a boundary, then Collingwood cut Hauritz twice in an over for fours, before Pietersen used his feet to drive Michael Clarke wide of mid-off for four more.

Tea was taken with England 194-3, Collingwood and Pietersen were on half-centuries, and all was well in the home dressing room.

The mood darkened early in the final session, however. Hilfenhaus and Siddle were back on, there was a bit of reverse swing for them and the first sign of danger came when Pietersen, on 66, survived an lbw appeal off Hilfenhaus that should have been upheld by umpire Billy Doctrove.

The same bowler had reason to celebrate soon afterwards when Collingwood's defensive edge to a good ball that held its line was well held by a diving Brad Haddin.

And with the total on 241, England lost their fifth wicket - and the vital one of Pietersen. Shaping to play a premeditated sweep to Hauritz, the batsman was given a ball well wide of off-stump - and he should have aborted the shot.

But he failed to do so, and Pietersen ended up in a dreadful position as he gave short-leg a simple catch.

Tom live blogs from Cardiff

Flintoff has lost the number six position to Prior for this series, but on this occasion both came to the crease at more or less the same time.

After scoring quickly against the spinners, it was no surprise that they were made to face the seamers again as soon as the new ball became available.

Flintoff's ferocious pull shot off Hilfenhaus took him past 30, and a quick single brought up England's 300. Ten runs followed off the next over, bowled by Johnson, and when Siddle came on Prior laced him to the cover-point boundary. A single soon afterwards brought him a 54-ball fifty.

Day two crucial for Aussies - Nielsen

Finally, Flintoff went for one more crashing boundary and inside-edged Siddle onto his stumps. Only 20 balls now remained in the day, but that proved enough time for Siddle to send down a booming inswinger which cleaned up Prior and left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth for England fans.

A score of 340-5 would have been brilliant; now Australia potentially had the upper hand.

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see also
Pietersen defends Ashes dismissal
08 Jul 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
08 Jul 09 |  England
England v Australia photos day one
08 Jul 09 |  England
Ashes Ten to Tackle
08 Jul 09 |  Fun and Games
Moores backs England to win Ashes
07 Jul 09 |  England
McGrath expects Aussie whitewash
07 Jul 09 |  Australia
Injured Lee to miss Ashes opener
06 Jul 09 |  Australia
Justin Langer column
06 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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