Right, thanks for all your contributions today, please join us again tomorrow at 1000 BST for what promises to be another intriguing day of Ashes cricket. Swanny, get a good night's sleep now...
"We will take that, 336-7. Being greedy we would have said five down, but 336 on a wicket that is turning and we've got two spinners, we will take that. My back lift was poor, I was nervous at the start. I said to the lads, if you're not nervous then there is something wrong with you. I played much better after lunch. The key is to keep their bowlers bowling for a long time. If we are able to do that we will score some big runs. I scored a lot of runs off the sweep today, I might have left it, but we will never know." England's Kevin Pietersen
"340-5 would have been brilliant. 340-7 is decent. Such a pity that Prior got a peach of a delivery just before the end. Broad can score runs, Swann too. But that's it. Hopefully we can reach 370-380 or so, but I think 400 is just beyond us." Matt on 606
"England have the runs in the bank. Australia's vast total is all speculation. Edge to England: Cash (scored runs) is King." SGE on 606
"'It's how KP plays, you've got take that along with the big scores he gets'. This excuse and many more will be offered by the KP nuts among the England supporters. Well I don't buy those excuses. Appalling shot in the circumstances. Talk about handing over the initiative lock, stock and barrel!"Horshamred on 606
"It is Australia ahead after day one, but only just. If England come out in the morning get around 375, then we have a very good match on our hands. Seven wickets is a victory in my eyes (for the day of course)."Pickles on 606
1824 - 336-7
Last over of the day... short ball outside off, and Anderson looks to thrash Johnson through the covers, but doesn't quite get it. Not much footwork there, but it's two for Anderson into the off-side. Forty-nine Test innings without a duck now for Anderson, a Test record. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Honours even? I think you'd have to say so. A very acceptable first day of Ashes action, with the pendulum swinging this way and that. Siddle impressed with the ball, and you'd have to say Prior was the pick of the England batsmen.
1817 - 334-7
Stuart Broad is up the ramp now, and he's off the mark with a streaky four through third man. I'm already a big fan of Siddle, he's got the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant. Broad up on his toes, before Siddle is called for a wide, to Punter's obvious chagrin.
1815 - WICKET - Prior b Siddle 56, Eng 329-7
Prior lunging again, and again he's beaten. AND SIDDLE'S GOT HIM! Absolute crackerjack of a delivery, the ball swinging late and cleaning Prior up through the gate. Good knock though, it lasted just 62 balls.
1811 - 329-6
Plum of a delivery from Hilfenhaus, Prior squared up and beaten all ends up. Prior nudges into the off-side for one, before there's more anguish for Hilfenhaus, who this time nibbles one past Anderson's tentative poke. Another airy waft from Anderson - that was a wide from Hilfenhaus - but Jimmy survives. Two more overs remaining...
1808 - 327-6
Probably the first false stroke there from Flintoff - crooked bat, neither a drive nor a cut - and you have to say he looked in pretty good nick. And we've got Jimmy Anderson as the night-watchman - sent out to protect Stuart Broad! He's beaten by a ball from Siddle that seams away, but survives the over.
1803 - WICKET - Flintoff b Siddle 37, Eng 327-6
Sorry about the delay, my system froze, but I have to relay to you that England have just lost the wicket of Freddie Flintoff, dragging on.
1802 - 327-5
Four more, this time Prior outside edging through the slips, and the Aussies are looking ragged. Bit of away-swing from Hilfenhaus, and Flintoff larrups that through mid-off, but for no run. Flintoff drops the ball in front of him and Prior calls him through for a quick one - more very smart running. Doozy of a ball from Hilfenhaus, Prior beaten outside off. "Look at Ricky's little face," chirps the chap sat opposite me. I'm not saying anything.
1757 - 321-5
Peche de la peche from Prior - a peach of a square cut for four, before he laces Siddle through the covers for four more. It's a masterclass at the moment, and Ponting is wearing the expression of a man who has just unwrapped a toaster on Christmas morning. There's Prior's ninth Test fifty courtesy of slice into the off-side, and it came from just 54 balls. It's been an eyeball pleaser...
"Just been to hospital with a fractured radial head, been signed off work for two weeks. Just in time for the first two Tests... happy days. Now planning on a second injury for the third, fourth and fifth Tests - any ideas?" Mike relaxing on the sofa in the TMS inbox
1752 - 310-5
Flintoff throws the kitchen sink at one outside off and misses. Get your head together son, just stick it out. A leg-bye single for England, before Prior unfurls another one of those lavish cover-drives that deserves so much more than the brace it gets. This partnership now 68 from 77.
1748 - 306-5
Dreamy stroke from Prior, who creams Johnson through the covers. Should have only been one though, but an overthrow turns it into three. This pair really turning the screw now, and there's the 300 courtesy of a very sharp bit of running, Flintoff having just prodded into the off-side. Two more for Prior with a flick to leg, before the Sussex man pulls a bumper from Johnson through mid-wicket for three more. Another productive over for England, seven overs to come this evening.
1744 - 296-5
Prior yanks a short one from Hilfenhaus to mid-wicket to bring up the fifty partnership, and what a valuable partnership it's been. The Aussies looked on top there, but this pair have managed to wrestle the pendulum back England's way. BOOF! Short from Hilfenhaus and Flintoff puts manners on that, crashing him to the mid-wicket fence. That little smile from Freddie again... I like his little smile...
"I was at the front row of a Megadeth gig once when a naked man crowdsurfed over me."Aidan in Derby in the TMS inbox
1739 - 289-5
Time for the new cherry, Ponting looking pensive. Think Punter, think - what would lower league footballer Emmanuel Panther do in this situation? Johnson getting it to hoop extravagantly into the right-handed Prior. Prior yells "it's swinging" down to Flintoff - next he'll be telling him Michael Jackson's dead. Width from Johnson, crackerjack shot from Prior, even better stop from the man at backward point. Prior picks up a tickled single to keep the strike.
1735 - 288-5
Flintoff makes room and cue-ends an attempted cut between Clarke's legs at slip and away for four. Flintoff has absolutely piled into that ball from Katich outside off, the ball racing through mid-off and away for four. That was brutal, and Freddie looks like he's enjoying himself out there... this partnership is 47 already...
1730 - 278-5
Prior drops to one knee, sweeps, and the ball flies through Phil Hughes' hands on the bounce and into the mid-wicket fence. Prior jumps into position, like a fencer reacting to a cry of "en garde", and twirls Hauritz away for one. One for Flintoff to nick the strike.
1727 - 270-5
It's time for some Chinamen - Simon Katich onto bowl. Short, and Prior yanks him away for one, and here's Flintoff on strike. Freddie's about as comfortable playing spin as Michael Palin might be in the front row of a Megadeth gig, but there are no great dramas there - Katich on the spot, Freddie watchful.
1722 - 269-5
WAGS! Dunno whose they are, although I'm thinking they're Aussies. Freddie tickles Hauritz off his pads for one, and Prior plays a similar stroke next ball.
1719 - 267-5
Cheap runs, Prior prodding outside off and the ball dribbling through Clarke's hands at second slip. Four. Johnson offering width, and twice Prior reaches and misses. Flintoff saunters down the track and has a little word - something along the lines of "stop playing like a ruddy eejit" - before Prior clips off his legs for one. Curious stroke from Flintoff, clearing his left leg and lacing Johnson through the covers for four. A mischievous grin plays on Flintoff's face, as if he's just got away with planting a comedy dog mess in his brother's bed.
"I used to work as a headhunter and we had a candidate called Thorsten Gladiator. He was an MD at a Nordic bank. That was a man who lived up to his name."Robert Wood in the TMS inbox
1713 - 257-5
Hauritz, over the wicket, and this must be torture for Freddie, he must be champing at the bit here - short straight boundaries in Cardiff. Flintoff drops to one knee and sweeps for one, before Prior gets a short one and thumps it through point for four. Good shot that.
"You're going to get loads of emails, but what sort of shot was that? Self-indulgent, idiotic and typical Pietersen showing off instead of concentrating on a really big score. Grrrrrrrr."Paul Hutton in the TMS inbox
1710 - 251-5
Some chin music for Prior, and the England keeper goes for the hook, but the ball is well saved by the man at short mid-wicket. Short from Johnson and Flintoff carves him to deep extra cover for a single. Apologies if you've had any problems with our auto-refresh functionality today. Anyone using certain browsers, including Safari and Google Chrome, may not have been getting updates automatically, but we hope to have a fix for this in place tomorrow. I didn't write that.
"The ball was drifting further away from him - it wasn't an off-spinner. Hauritz doesn't look like he could bowl my mum out then he gets the best batsman out. Well, he got himself out the dozy so-and-so."Sir Geoffrey Boycott on TMS
1706 - 249-5
As you can imagine, Sir Boycs is going berserk on TMS. If Boycott was at the crease for a thousand years, he still wouldn't play that shot Pietersen just played. Freddie faces his first ball and lunges forward to Hauritz. A slip, a short leg and a silly point in for the Lancashire all-rounder, and he's off the mark with a clip to leg. Single for Prior, before Flintoff tickles Hauritz round the corner for four. Gossamer, I like that.
"I once saw David Bairstow attempt a version of the moonwalk at the crease in the Parks around about the time of Jacko's first attempt. It's not easy in pads." Andrew Carrick in the TMS inbox
1700 - 241-5
Huge cheer for Flintoff as he marches from the pavilion, but I can't help feeling deflated - the Aussie will think they can skittle England for less than 300 here. Strangled lbw appeal against Prior, but there was plenty of wood on that, and it's time for drinks.
"He's got too much class and too many shots to be playing stupid shots like that. The more you see it, the worse it gets..." Ian Chappell on TMS
1655 - WICKET - Pietersen c Katich b Hauritz 69, Eng 241-5
Time for more Hauritz, the field spread, and there are singles everywhere. Prior only on seven, but Ponting's not exactly trying to suffocate him out: one slip and a short leg. I can't quite believe what I've just seen. Pietersen, once again, is about to be pilloried for being England's top scorer I'm afraid: he drops to one knee, reaches for a ball about two feet outside off and top-edges a dolly to the fielder at short leg.
1650 - 240-4
KP drives expansively, and Hilfenhaus very nearly cleans him up, the ball ricocheting off the inside edge and running away for a couple. KP's used up a fair few lives out there, the Aussies will be thinking he should have his feet up on the balcony by now. KP now 69, Prior 7.
"With a great name comes great responsibility - too great, for some. Hull Thunder ice hockey team once bought a guy called Brent Steel, I can only assume on the basis of his rather excellent moniker. After a promising start, he developed a habit of falling over a lot and firing towards his own goal. Still, fantastic name!"Rob, Yorkshire, in the TMS inbox
1645 - 238-4
Prior goes back and fiddles outside his off-stump. No-ball, but that wasn't very clever from the England 'keeper. Prior is off the mark with a drive into the covers for three, and he follows up with a clip through mid-wicket for a couple. Plenty of inswing from Siddle, and that's beautifully timed - and placed - the ball running away to the long-leg boundary for four. A couple of settlers there for Prior there. Some stats this boy's got: 18 Tests, average of 48.40, two tons, eight fifties. England need some of that now.
"Am I the only Irishman who delights in seeing England lose at most sports - but now finds himself biting his nails in advance of opening my blackberry for fear that KP and Colly have blown it. Conclusion: arrogant Aussies are worse then the auld enemy! England to win this and the series." Brian Hartnett in the TMS inbox
1642 - 229-4
KP nearly caught! Flashing drive off Hilfenhaus, and Michael Clarke looks to have put down a very difficult chance diving forward. That ball had some wheels on it, it would have been some take. On a completely unrelated note, and I don't want to disrespect the dead, but Michael Jackson didn't invent the moonwalk. Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar did.
1639 - 229-4
That's a jaffa from Siddle that squares Pietersen up and fizzes past his bat, and he repeats the trick next ball. This Siddle's a real packhorse, and his ready grin suggests he's loving it out there. Short from Siddle and Pietersen, eyes like saucers, is onto it in a flash and pulls him away for one.
"Re 1615: My name was Zac Thunder too, but I changed it, because the weight of expectation that goes with such a name was too great..."Mark Williams in the TMS inbox
1632 - 228-4
When I said Colly was seeing it like a planet, what I meant to say was that Colly was seeing it like a speck of stardust... sorry... Matt Prior in ahead of Flintoff, and this fella is absolutely useless with the bat, no way he's going to get any runs today... sorry... I can't apologise enough... Prior does well to dig out a yorker.
1630 - WICKET - Collingwood c Haddin b Hilfenhaus 64, Eng 228-4
Punter's got problems and he's letting it show. He pulls Umpire Doctrove aside and has a little moan, presumably about that lbw appeal a couple of overs ago, and his general demeanour isn't great. KP with that signature shot of his, a clip through mid-wicket for one from outside off... BUT WE'VE GOT ANOTHER ONE! Collingwood fishes away from his body, and Haddin takes a sharp one diving to his right.
1628 - 225-3
I can only think Doctrove thought there was a little nick on that, but if so it should have been a catch. A life, no doubt about that. Siddle digs one in and KP swivels on it and picks up one to square leg. Siddle strays onto Colly's pads and England pick up four leg-byes. Short from Siddle, and Colly, who's seeing it like a planet now, whip-cracks him through point for four more.
1623 - 215-3
Contemptuous stroke from Pietersen, reaching and swatting Hilfenhaus through the covers for four. Probably KP's best shot so far. KP backs away as Hilfenhaus is about to deliver the ball, and the bowler sends a few barbs the batsman's way. Oh Lordy, the Aussies have been robbed there - KP is bamboozled by an inswinger that hits him on the boot, but Umpire Doctrove reckons it was missing.
1618 - 211-3
No sign of KP's limp since tea, looks like it's been rubbed free up in the dressing room. Touch of inswing from Siddle and KP tucks him round the corner for one. Chancy drive from Collingwood, the ball slicing past imaginary fourth slip and away for four. Ponting adopts the expression I imagine Gordon Brown adopts when he's told he's got Hazel Blears on the blower.
1615 - 205-3
Hilfenhaus is turned behind square by Colly. Congratulations go to Michael Gracey
, who is the first to email in and ask: "Is Ben Dirs your real name?" No, Michael, my real name is Zac Thunders, I changed it to Ben Dirs some time back as I liked the idea of having people sniggering at me everywhere I went. Pietersen drives into the covers for one, but there's plenty of shape in Hilfenhaus's bowling.
1611 - 202-3
Siddle on and his first ball hoops miles down leg and Haddin just manages to parry the ball to prevent a four. Colly nurdles to leg and Pietersen calls him through for a smart single. Siddle dredges up an inswinging yorker that KP just manages to jam down on, before Pietersen threads the bustling Victorian through the two mid-wicket fielders. Two for the stroke, England have passed 200 by the way...
1605 - 198-3
Hilfenhaus's first delivery after tea is carved through the covers by Collingwood. Long chase round for Hughes, three for the stroke. Uppish drive from Pietersen for one, before Colly nibbles at one and is beaten by one that seams away.
Players are back out after tea, it looks like it will be Ben Hilfenhaus to continue...
Apologies for the four-pronged tea attack there, a few problems with the auto-refresh. CHEWIE?! I would just like to warn people that I don't have much luck commentary-wise, so it would be dishonest to promise another wicketless session. In fact, having presided over England's soul-destroying defeat in Adelaide a couple of years back, it wouldn's really surprise me if England are all out for 198.
"The Aussies, they started on fire
At lunch England were in a mire
But when KP came in, He mastered their spin
And made their attack look quite dire Sam in Bradford in the TMS inbox
"Hats off to Colly. Ever since I found out that he was a Sunderland supporter and my wife ran off with a fat Mackem I tainted him with the same brush and took childish delight in his (and all Sunderland's) failures. I'm slowly forgiving him for his choice of team."Iain in the TMS inbox
Sir Geoffrey's not the only one who's singularly unimpressed with Punter's captaincy. Here's a quote from former Aussie speedster Jeff Thomson: "I thought Ricky was rubbish when he was first captain in 2004 and nothing much has improved since then. I'm not the only one who thinks that. I've always bagged him and everyone at home thinks he's rubbish at the captaincy." Except he didn't actually say "rubbish".
"Teresa - they've already got a bowler who can bowl the same delivery ball after ball. His name is Nathan Hauritz. Fortunately, he couldn't threaten the batsmen even if he bowled a grenade on a good length. Keep it up lads, and cheers Ricky!"Sean Lightbown, in the TMS inbox
Many thanks Stevo, top session from you, and a top session from England. Ben Dirs
back in the cockpit now, press F5 to make my name appear at the top of the page. Right, for all those people emailing in and digging Stevo out for referring to "batters", I would like to point out the following entry in the OED: "1773 J. DUNCOMBE Surry Triumphant st. xxxiii, in R. Freeman Kentish Poets (1821) II. 368 At last, Sir Horace took the field, A batter of great might." So, nothing to do with silly boys' rounders at all...
1539 - 194-3
It's Colly's turn to bring up his half-century as he pushes Siddle to mid-off and races off for a single, diving full-length to make sure. It's the ginger one's 14th Test 50 and third against the Aussies.
"Colly's already done about 10 times more today than he managed four years ago to get his MBE. Arise, Sir Paul
"Robbie in the TMS inbox
1535 - 192-3
KP sweeps Hauritz behind square on the leg side to bring up his 50 - his 15th in Test cricket and eighth against Australia. That's the 100 partnership a couple of balls later too as Colly moves on to 49, the pair bringing up their century from 199 balls. Probably time for a couple more overs before tea.
"If you were the Australian captain now, you would be looking to throw to ball to your bowler who can hold an end up, bowl the same ball over after over, and simply bore the batsmen out. Step up Stuart Clark. Oh wait..."Teresa, in the TMS inbox
1531 - 188-3
Geoff will be pleased, Siddle's back on. He's not you know - he's apoplectic that it took Ponting so long. Hard to disagree with the great man, not that I'd ever want to. Colly responds to the change in pace by defending like his life depends on it.
Geoff Boycott on TMS:
"They've left England to pat spinners around for an hour or so on the first day of a Test match, goodness gracious me. I wish I'd been batting against these two, whatever age I am. Ridiculous drifting cricket."
1526 - 187-3
Hauritz, bless him, continues in the same vein - one can only sit and wonder what Warney is making of this spell, if he's even got time to watch it during his poker tournament. Two more singles, for the record.
1524 - 185-3
KP drives Clarke through the offside for four, not too keen to play second fiddle to Colly obviously. "He's let this drift, Ricky Ponting," says Sir Geoff, and he's 100% right. Hugely negative captaincy from Punter so far. Both batters are on 47, incidentally.
1521 - 179-3
"This is comfort bowling," says Sir Geoff on TMS, after Hauritz drops one short outside off stump for Colly to rock back and thrash it away for the first four off the bat in 21 overs, astonishingly. Colly gets a taste for it and from the last ball he delves deep into his crease and smorshes a square cut away for four more.
1517 - 169-3
Get in - a two!! KP sweeps and gets a brace, but he's got a bit of a limp - apparently he had more treatment on that Achilles problem yesterday, worryingly. Moments later, Clarke almost bowls him round his legs as he misses another attempted sweep. Whoosh that was close, but it goes through Brad Haddin for four byes, all's well that ends well.
1514 - 162-3
Nothing doing. Six more balls from Hauritz, one of which hits Colly on the pad, but it's way down leg side. Geoff Boycott on TMS, on behalf of the England batters, is ecstatic. I hope he hasn't forgotten to add two wickets on to the score.
1511 - 161-3
KP brings up his 1000th run against the Aussies by driving Michael Clarke down to long-off for yet another single. Three more ones ensue. I reckon Ponting is due another proper hammering back home already for these defensive fields.
"In reply to Tim Haveron Jones we don't have prescription charges in Wales."Ms Llinos Spargo, Cardiff, in the TMS inbox
1508 - 157-3
Hauritz lobs one up two feet outside off stump, KP sweeps, misses and the Aussies all go up appealing for lbw - it wouldn't have hit another set, honestly. A brace more singles and these two have gauged the situation perfectly so far.
1505 - 155-3
Michael Clarke floats one up and tempts KP but the big man isn't rising to this particular bait, steadfastly remaining in his crease, with bat as straight as could possibly be. Must be singles night in the 'Diff.
1502 - 155-3
Hauritz continues to probe, though that's probably being a bit kind to him. Colly nurdles a single, but KP is presumably too bored to follow him.
"I think you'll find 'dead set in the fair dinkum department' is a Ray 'Rabs' Warrenism rather than a Daryl 'raise the volume to the threshold of pain' Eastlakeism."Griffinrobin on 606
Join the debate on 606
1500 - 152-3
Michael Clarke comes on for the Aussies and Colly tries to smorsh (think Tony Greig) him into Row Z, but he doesn't get all of it by any means and it stops rolling just short of the boundary. KP on 34, Colly on 32.
"Adam (1426): you're right, Collingwood's 206 in Adelaide was both a fluke and a terrible thing to happen. It's not the only time he's screwed English cricket over like this either - 134* in Nagpur, 186 v Pakistan, 161 in Port of Spain... when will the guy stop doing this?"Dan Lucas in the TMS inbox
1456 - 148-3
If you're wondering why I'm not being more positive, it's because I've got a phenomenal reputation (among about six people, admittedly) for the commentator's curse. England football and cricket, England Under-21s, every Premier League team etc etc. I'm trying so hard it's not even true. Hauritz bowls six more of the same ball - now what was it Warney said about Monty exactly?
"Re 1441: 'Just what the doctor ordered. Drinks.' Is this an official statement from the Chief Medical Officer? If so, let's rejoice, head down the pub and tell everyone we're only doing it on medical advice. Mind you, with prescription charges at £7.20 per item, it'll be a pretty expensive round."Tim Haveron Jones, Maidenhead, in the TMS inbox
1454 - 147-3
How refreshing to see an Aussie fast bowler walk back to his mark with a smile on his face after a ball which didn't nearly maim an English batter. Johnson bumpers Colly and tries his best to scowl, but he'll have to work a little bit harder to look menacing.
"I once worked for as a dust sweeper in an animal feed factory in Perth which made 'Dinkum Chook Tucker'. A hat-trick of Aussie slang which never failed to bring a smile to my face."Jim in the TMS inbox
1450 - 145-3
Hauritz, who is starting to make me miss Shane Warne (can I say that?), trundles up and bowls the exact same six balls that turn ever-so-slowly and are all played with minimum fuss. Crikey KP must be tempted to go again.
1447 - 143-3
Mitchell Johnson tries to tempt Colly outside off stump, but nothing doing. Meanwhile Ricky Ponting, er, moistens his hands - my word that's a good effort from the Aussie skipper. Not a golden golly contender though, I wouldn't have thought.
"Is it just me or does the picture of Aussie legend Ian Chappell (see 1419) show a remarkable resemblance to English legend Bruce Forsyth? I wonder if they are related."Richard, New York, in the TMS inbox
1441 - 141-3
It had the feeling of a calm before the storm and KP prances down the pitch attempting to hit Hauritz into the River Taff, not getting anything of it in the end. He does manage a couple with a clip into off and then sweeps for a single to bring up the 50 partnership from 104 balls. Just what the doctor ordered. Drinks.
"I may be wrong but it was a fella called Darryl Eastlake who always said 'dead set in the fair dinkum department'."Lloyd, Manchester, via text on 81111
1437 - 136-3
Johnson wastes a bouncer down the leg side and he hasn't quite got his line right after lunch yet. There's a pretty big divot just before the bowling crease where MJ is dragging his back foot prior to delivery, wonder if it's throwing him off a touch. Oh well.
1433 - 132-3
Hauritz continues to bowl in and around off stump, it's pretty defensive stuff from the Aussies to be honest. KP gets glove on the first and it would have been snaffled by short-leg were there one in place. Hmm.
1430 - 131-3
Mitchell Johnson is back with his left-arm zooters, but Colly settles for having a good look at the view as they largely fly past his off stump.
"I agree with FunkLeMonk (see below). In these joyless times, let's revert to the humourless, purely factual commentary that worked so well in the past. Just give us the scores, ideally in some form of proprietary code that is indecipherable to mortals." Dave Woodward in the TMS inbox
1426 - 131-3
They're talking about the origin of the phrase 'fair dinkum' on Sports Extra. My favourite use of said phrase is on those 12th Man CDs, when one of the guys keeps saying 'in the fair dinkum department'. Couple of singles off Hauritz there, fair dinkum all round.
"Is it me or does anyone else have a complete lack of faith in Colly and think his double hundred against this lot was one of the worst things that could have happened to English cricket? " Adam in the TMS inbox
1422 - 129-3
Siddle's first ball to Colly almost moves at right-angles it swings in so much, and the Durham man manages to clip it away for a couple on the leg side. The rest of the over passes incident-free, and the longer that remains the case, the better it gets for England (and Wales).
1419 - 127-3
Hauritz continues but Aussie legend Ian Chappell's fuming on Sports Extra - he reckons the Aussies have got too many men out in the deep, giving England easy singles. "You have to put some risk in the batting," Chappell argues.
"I would give good odds that KP falls to some spin, the man can't resist going for a six off spin!"
Adam G, Sheffield, via text on 81111
1415 - 125-3
Siddle pounds up and fires them in outside off stump but Colly's not tempted - in half an hour he's gone from being hopelessly out of form to seeing it like a football. Maiden, and it looks like the sun's out in Cardiff to boot.
"Am I the only one that thinks Broad should bat above Flintoff? I have far more faith in him to make 30+ than Freddie these days. And for any Aussie fans who haven't watched any cricket since the last time Flintoff batted well, imagine how good our line-up will look with him at eight."Robbie, in the TMS inbox
1410 - 125-3
Hauritz is getting a bit of spin, but it's painfully slow turn and Colly and KP seem to have all the time in the world to decide what to do. He's a touch short as Colly takes a step back and chops one through the offside, picking up three in the process.
1407 - 120-3
Much better from Colly as he rocks back to a short one and slaps Siddle into the leg-side boundary for four, before stroking through the offside and collecting three more. Pitch looks even slower than before lunch, happily.
1403 - 113-3
KP sweeps Hauritz's first ball in Ashes cricket for a couple round the corner, so no 1993 Warney repeat for this Aussie tweaker. He sweeps the third ball again, this time aerially, and gets two more - he appears to not want to have a good look at Nath, it's fair to say.
"No pressure or anything, but if KP or Collingwood fail, we're doomed..."Graham, Ireland, in the TMS inbox
1359 - 109-3
Colly prods a little less tentatively - is that as good as it gets for now? - at Siddle and gets a couple through the offside. I panic every time the Durham man takes strike - but what's this? Nathan Hauritz, welcome to the Ashes...
1355 - 107-3
Hilfenhaus rocks in and twice Paul Collingwood prods tentatively outside off stump like a man holding a bat for the first time. KP shows him how it's done, just about getting on to bended knee and clattering through the covers for four more. Chalk and cheese.
1351 - 102-3
Outrageous leave from KP - which of us can honestly say we don't enjoy a flamboyant no-stroke? Test cricket at its finest. Bit lucky three balls later as Siddle gets one up there and somehow it misses Pietersen's bat and the off stump. Good slower ball, not for the time time today from the Aussies - damn that Twenty20 stuff they're supposedly rubbish at.
1347 - 102-3
Ben Hilfenhaus runs in - looks a bit breezy in south Wales now - and Pietersen waits until the second ball to play a sumptuous drive through the covers for four. You just don't save those. KP clips one more off his pads as Peter Siddle starts his warm-up in earnest.
The Aussies take the field, presumably after a pretty enjoyable lunch. They are joined by Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood. We're good to go again, England 97-3.
Not long until they're back out there, let's hope the Aussies are getting a proper good feed. Need a big session here from England - but don't worry, I won't be cursing them with a predo, no way Jose. This is way too important.
Australia's 1972 Ashes legend Bob Massie on BBC Radio 5 Live Sport Extra:
"I'd worked out if I was a right-hand batsman I wouldn't want the ball pitching in a certain place and I went away and focused on hitting that target. That's how I coach kids today.
That day at Lord's, it was swinging around all over the place."
"This was the Aussies' big chance to avoid losing this match and I don't think they took it. Fresh cherry, swinging conditions, only three down and almost three per over conceded. Not sure how Johnson and Hilfenhaus are going to cope with a dead ball this afternoon."Moutarde on 606
Join the debate on 606
Positivity - I like it. Afternoon session: boot-filling time.
"If Ravi Bopara's innings was any more airy-fairy he would have been wearing a tutu and waving a wand."Simon, Sheffield, in the TMS inbox
"Those saying the moon landings were faked should be careful, Buzz Aldrin once decked a guy for saying it to his face. Quite right too. So I suggest that if you want to say the 2007 Ashes were faked as well be sure not to whisper it around Shane Warne or you may get more than you bargained for."Alan, Mullingar, in the TMS inbox
1304 - 90-3
Johnson gives Colly a whiff of leather and the Durham man, a humdrum Zanussi dishwasher to Pietersen's stainless steel Bosch, leans back and pulls him away for four. Not convincing that, that was pretty much a cue-end. But Colly survives the over, and that's lunch. Of course, it will be carbs, carbs, carbs for the Aussies - Ricky Ponting has apparently put a block on sticky buns and Swiss Rolls and the like this series. Bet old Gatts never complained about the catering arrangements.
"Re: FunkLeMonk. Is he seriously asking someone who was given and chose to keep the name Ben Dirs to be serious?"Matt Kelly in the TMS inbox
1253 - 90-3
Collingwood is the new batsmen, and he survives the over. We've got the old combo of Jason Prince at one end and DI Regan at the other now, and they could do with surviving until lunch. KP playing tip and run here, pushing into the covers and scampering one. Colly gets a straight one from Hilfenhaus and Colly tucks him away for one to get off the mark. DRAMA IN THE PENULTIMATE OVER BEFORE LUNCH! Hilfenhaus gets one to nip back at KP, and to a man the Aussies go up for an lbw. Umpire Doctrove reckons that was going over, and hawkeye makes him right.
1252 - WICKET - Bopara c Hughes b Johnson 35, Eng 90-3
Jaffa from Johnson, and Bopara has a nibble outside off. Bopara edges the next ball, and all of a sudden Johnson looks like the man who's been terrorising batsmen all over the world for the last year. WICKET ON CUE! Slower ball from Johnson, Bopara through the shot too quickly, and Hughes takes a lollipop at point. Huge scalp for the tourists before lunch, already their morning.
1248 - 90-2
Pietersen clips off his pads, the ball landing just short of Katich at short mid-wicket. Siddle with a yorker, and KP just manages to dig it out, picking up a couple to third-man. Pietersen twitching and yanking and prodding, and these are nervous times for England. He just pulls his bat out of the way of a ball just outside off from Hilfenhaus, the Aussies will fancy their chances of sending him off for an early lunch.
"I don't like to get into the anti-BBC rants, or criticise the text people for trying to be entertaining but for God's sake reign it in a bit Dirs. If you want to be a comedian post the 'funny' stuff on 606, but let's have a bit more cricket and a bit more maturity on the live text."
FunkLeMonk on 606
1244 - 87-2
KP, with his usual nervy start, outside edges, but the ball falls well short of the slip cordon. Quick scamper for one after Pietersen nibbles into the covers, before Bopara whips Johnson away for a couple to move onto 28. Everyone in the office comes over all Sid James clapping eyes on a bikini-clad Babs Windsor as Bopara unveils the shot of the day - glorious extra cover drive for four. Bopara with three more through the covers next ball, before Pietersen takes a seriously risky run, the old adrenalin pumping through his veins.
1238 - 76-2
Oh my days, it looks like KP's a goner first ball, but that's a good decision from Umpire Doctrove, the ball was going well over. Strange captaincy here - everyone geared up for Johnson v Pietersen, and Hilfenhaus is chucked the ball instead. KP off the mark with a straight drive for one, Johnson is on at the other end...
"Martin of London might be on to something - the shadows are all wrong when you watch 'footage' of Ashley Giles dropping Punter at Adelaide."Tom, Penge, in the TMS inbox
1233 - 75-2
Strauss had a moan-up about that, but I'm not sure why, that struck hit him right on the fingers. Although, as Ian Botham once said, if you're playing against the Aussies, you don't walk. Cometh the hour, cometh KP, and he'll be salivating over this little tete a tete with Johnson - for as long as it lasts, they're going to be kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer. Short from Siddle, Bopara rat-a-tat-tats him through mid-wicket for four.
1229 - WICKET - Strauss c Clarke b Johnson 30, Eng 67-2
You have to keep reminding yourself that Strauss is out in the middle, he is very much the Chris Lowe to Bopara's Neil Tennant at the moment. Big lbw appeal from Johnson, but that looked to be going down. Hawkeye reckons that was nicking leg-stump, Umpire Doctrove thought otherwise. ROPE-A-DOPE! Mitchell Johnson slips up a gear, sending one down at 93mph, and Strauss is unable to get out of the way, gloving to Michael Clarke at first slip.
1224 - 63-1
That's not too clever from Bopara, reaching for a drive and slicing down to third-man for four. Siddle grins like a dog licking his particulars - despite the runs, they'll fancy Bopara will give his wicket away soon. Bopara beaten again, before he unfurls an exaggerated leave, as if to say to his skipper: "It won't happen Straussy, promise..."
Tom Fordyce is up in Wales and he's done a blog on the first half-hour's play.
Haven't read it, but I'm pretty sure it will be more secure than that shot Bopara just played - Bopara reaching again and he slices past gully for four more. Ten from that over, but Siddle (who I should stress is from Victoria, not Tasmania) will fancy taking Bopara's scalp.
1219 - 53-1
Johnson strays again and is turned away for a single by Strauss. Little bit airy-fairy that from Bopara, driving with a minimum of footwork and finding himself beaten by Johnson. Bopara nudges into the covers to steal the strike.
"The moon landings were faked. A bit like that 'Ashes series' in 2007."Martin, London, in the TMS inbox
1215 - 51-1
Bopara still hasn't settled down out there - bit of away-swing from Siddle and the Forest Gate man is beaten outside off, before Siddle gets one to nip back the other way. But that is magnificent from Bopara, latching onto a pitched-up delivery on his toes and whipping Siddle through mid-wicket for four. That's the England nifty...
"Ridiculous. We're in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Thirties and our entire sales team, who should be hard at it raising assets, have been sitting in a city pub since 1100 this morning and don't look like moving anytime soon." Rob in the TMS inbox
1211 - 46-1
Width from Johnson and Strauss marmalises him through backward point for four. That's a huckleberry of a stroke. Strauss turns away a straighter ball from Johnson, before Bopara tucks Johnson away to nick the strike. Johnson looking pretty flat out there at the moment, so far he's had all the cutting edge of a pair of chinchilla earmuffs.
"If Australia have done their homework, they must have a funny teacher, they haven't made Strauss drive outside the off-stump once yet." Sir Geoffrey Boycott on TMS
"If Siddle was wearing the look of a man who has just realised he will have to recycle his pants, surely that would that be a look of complete indifference? Or am I being unfair to men other than my boyfriend there?" Kate in London in the TMS inbox
1203 - 38-1
Short from Siddle and Strauss is onto it in a flash, swinging the bustling Tasmanian away for four. One more for Strauss, who moves to 23 with a nibble off his pads. You could have poured that shot into a little black dress and it wouldn't have looked out of place on the catwalks of Milan. What a doozy of a day up in Cardiff, it really is pretty as a picture. No Trevor
, Arlott was neither a Spizz Energi man, nor a Prefab Sprout man. I have it on very good authority that his record collection was an equal mix of Brahms and Orange Juice.
1158 - 34-1
Bopara drives rather airily for no run. Still three slips in, a gully, a square cover, a short extra cover and a short mid-off. Bopara safely negotiates that over, although Hilfenhaus was getting some hoop away from the right-hander all the way through...
1154 - 34-1
Strauss looks to play at one from Siddle that arcs away, but the England skipper does pick up a couple of settlers with a clip off his hips. Bit of a gift that. Siddle strives for the leg-stump yorker, but Strauss is onto it, turning it round the corner for four. Siddle wears the look of a man who has just realised he has no clean pants and will have to wear the same pair as yesterday. Good comeback though, Strauss just pulling his bat inside a ball that nips away.
"Pleased to see the Mighty Wah referenced in commentary. Not something you would have got from the late, great John Arlott, who was more of a Spizz Energi man." Simon, Sheffield, in the TMS inbox
1150 - 27-1
Bopara of course comes into this series in a rich vein of form, but then scoring a few tons against the Windies is rather warming up for a row with David Haye by sparring a few rounds with Kerry Katona. Strauss punches into the off-side for one, Bopara plays a couple of short ones from Hilfenhaus with rather more aplomb.
"I agree about the moon landings. I mean, it wasn't exactly rocket science, was it? Though at least we got to watch the moon landings on terrestrial TV."Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox
1146 - 26-1
Siddle tries Bopara out again with a short one, and there's no point in beating around the bush, the England man was hit right in the testicles there. A few chuckles in the office - as Mel Brooks once said, "tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die". Bopara looking very shifty out there at the moment - another shortish one from Siddle, Bopara carves away from his body, and Chinese cuts for four.
1143 - 22-1
Hilfenhaus serving up a bit of chin music now, and Strauss thinks about giving it some clobber before pulling out of the shot. Testing times for England here, the Aussie seamers have their dander up.
1140 - 22-1
There'll be a few good catches taken in this series, but they'll have to go some to top that from Hussey, it really was a cheeky little lady of a pouch. First the Aussies take your pride, then turn it all inside, and then you realise you got nothing left to lose. So you try to stop, try to get back up, and then you realise you're telling the story of the blues. Strauss shows the maker's name and plays Siddle down the ground for one. Ravi Bopara, on four tons in a row, is the new man at the crease, and he blocks his first ball faced rather tentatively. Calm down Siddle! New Merv digs one in, and Bopara drops his hands and takes it on the chest. That must have been like opening a letter bomb. Nasty. Another short one from the fiery Siddle, and Bopara prods it to leg. Katich under the lid, and he has a rather pointless shy. It's getting spicy...
1132 - WICKET - Cook c Hussey b Hilfenhaus 10, Eng 21-1
This series may not live up to the hype of 2005, but whatever happens, it's not going to be as big an anti-climax as the moon landings. What was that all about? Billions of dollars shelled out by the US government just so Alan Shepard could practice his mid-irons.... WE'VE GOT A WICKET! Cook fishes outside off, edges, and Hussey pulls off an outrageous catch at gully.
"RE: 1126 - Hyperbole? That just outside Alpha centauri? The Falcon should be able to do that easily."Will Collins, Yorkshire, in the TMS inbox
1128 - 21-0
Siddle is a proud Victorian, and don't you forget it, and he's invariably described as the "new Merv Hughes". He's a workhorse, and he bowled pretty impressively in South Africa - 12 Test wickets now at an average of 22.5. He strays onto Strauss' pads and is tickled round the corner for one. A hint of swing away from Cook, but the Essex opener pokes the ball into the covers for one.
1126 - 19-0
Strauss nurdles to leg for one, England nibbling along quite nicely at the moment... sorry... Jim Maxwell on the wireless now, perhaps the most magnificent voice in cricket... Peter Siddle on for Johnson now.
"Re Kurt, 1109 - How long does Vasectomy Guy get to keep the catheter in for - what a boon that could be, he'd almost never need to move for five days."H, Hampshire, in the TMS inbox
"When are you going to make the jump to hyperbole?"Robin, in the TMS inbox
1120 - 17-0
On his day Mitchell Johnson is more slippery than two eels fighting in a bucket full of jelly, but early signs suggest this pitch has the consistency of a quiche. Nevertheless, he gets Strauss nibbling and the England skipper very nearly plays on... one run for the shot, Strauss moves onto seven.
1117 - 16-0
Hilfenhaus, arms pumping like a steam locomotive, onto Cook's pads and is tucked away for two more. Good judgement from Cook outside off, England settled... isn't this a nice change of pace from all that Twenty20? Cricket is like jazz, the better it is, the less the mass of people appreciate it.
1112 - 14-0
Johnson tops 90mph for the first time, but he's struggling with his line and is clipped through mid-wicket for three. And Johnson's radar goes awry again, and Strauss flicks him off his pads for the first four of the day. Rolex timing, looks like it's going to be back-breaking for the quicks. You will have noticed that we've got auto-refresh and videos and scorecards and just about every nob and whistle and bell you might want on this page, which is lovely for you. For me, it's like being in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. The bloke next to me is even kicking up like Chewie.
1109 - 7-0
Hilfenhaus to share the new cherry with Johnson - big, strapping right-armer from Tasmania, seven Test wickets at an average of 52.2. Hilfenhaus strays onto Cook's pads and is whipped away for a few. Hilfenhaus close to the off-stump, but Strauss knows his onions, although that did just shape back in. Bit of width from Hilfenhaus, and Strauss twirls him through backward point for two. Hint of swing from the Tasmanian, but just a hint...
"Surely the vasectomy guy has timed his op almost to perfection? He can even get his missus to fetch drinks at regular intervals just like a 12th man. If it was me, I'd be investing in a bigger fridge!"Kurt, Nottingham, in the TMS inbox
1105 - 2-0
Johnson going over the wicket, three slips in, and Strauss gets a leading edge attempting to clip off his pads. And there's the first runs of the series, the England skipper flicking off his legs for one. Bit of chin music for Cook, and the Essex man rolls his wrists for one to long leg. Not much cop that from Johnson, England under way...
Mitchell Johnson - built like David, wheels like Davros - to bowl the first ball of the 2009 Ashes series... short of a length, outside Strauss' off-stump, like a pin going into a balloon...
The Aussies are on, and here comes Strauss and Cook. There's something distinctly old-school about this England opening pair. Strauss of Radley and Durham; Cook, the former St Paul's chorister. But the stats show they're flinty enough - 45.37 is their average partnership in Tests.
Jerusalem now, and the old ticker's jumping about a bit. Four minutes until the players take to the field. Lord alone knows how Strauss and Cooky must be feeling, they must be more nervous than a squirrel in a room full of rocking chairs. Umpires Dar and Doctrove stroll onto the field as the last strains of this lovely old hymn are wrung out... by the way, top dribbling Chrissy...
"I am a British woman and I am dribbling."Chrissy, North Notts, in the TMS inbox
By the way, you have to refresh the page to get the Test Match Special video scorecard and the latest match scorecard at the top of the page. More Jenkins now... you're right George P, I can just imagine Max Boyce crying into his pillow right now!
"As an Englishman even I am concerned with Katherine Jenkins' monopoly over Welsh patriotic singing, surely she should be rationed, she's cleaning up."George P, Bristol, in the TMS inbox
John in the TMS inbox:
"Due to have a vasectomy at 1500 BST this afternoon. Cannot decide whether I am more nervous about that or the cricket. Cricket will be the only ball sport I'm engaging in for the next five days!"
The Aussie anthem now. Plenty of Fanatics in, the ground pretty much full now. This is the 65th Ashes series by the way - Australia have won 31, England 28, and five have been drawn. The Aussie have won 121 Tests to England's 95, and they have 264 tons to England's 212. God Save the Queen, some fireworks, and we're almost into the proper stuff...
Kath Jenkins banging out Land Of Our Fathers now, shocking red dress fluttering in the wind. What a ruddy woman.
Hughes, Katich, Ponting (capt), Clarke, Hussey, North, Haddin (wk), Johnson, Siddle, Hauritz, Hilfenhaus.
Right, players are out already - we've got a 15-minute knees-up to plough through, with songs and presentations and the like. It really is a ripper of a day in Cardiff as Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales, is introduced to the players. Alastair Cook, incidentally, is the only England player with any Welsh in him - his mother is from Swansea.
From BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff
"Roars of satisfaction around the spanking new stands as news spreads that England (and Wales) have won the toss. The only ones in the ground who haven't reacted is the brass band parked in the north-west corner of the outfield, who are as motionless as tin soldiers. Red carpet laid out in front of the pavilion too. Clear the pipes - it's almost time for a nerve-calming sing-song..."
Alan, bored, Camden, via text on 81111:
"Dirsy - What are the stats on England v Aus tests outside England? Will it help us predict anything? And all these ladies are getting far too modern in their tastes - in my opinion all cricketers should look like David Boon and Mike Gatting. A beer belly and a mooey are the makings of a man."
The first ripples of surprise run through the office - Ponting intimated in his interview that he thought it might swing, but he hasn't picked probably his best exponent of swing - Stuart Clark. But it shouldn't be forgotten that this is the side that beat South Africa in South Africa. There was no Brett Lee then either...
Strauss (capt), Cook, Bopara, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior (wkt), Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Panesar.
England captain Andrew Strauss has won the toss and England are going to have a bat. "It looks like a good wicket," says Andrew, "we would have had a bat as well," says opposite number Ricky Ponting...
Right, we've got the first desk giggle out of the way - Somerset's "I am a British woman. Hear me roar". No caps, exclamation marks. Genius. TEAM NEWS IN:
England going with two spinners, Australia going with spinner Nathan Hauritz and Ben Hilfenhaus - Stuart Clark 12th man, that might surprise a few, that boy can nibble it...
Lisa, Bexley CC in the TMS inbox
"Benders. I'm bang up for the Ashes and very over-excited about it all! It's going to be a struggle to work today and a bit jealous of Scott in bed (0952). Lucy - don't, you'll give us birds a bad name!"
Somerset, London, in the TMS inbox
"I am a British woman. Hear me roar. I'm so excited my colleagues have already threatened to tie me to a chair. And it's not even 11 o'clock!"
, what about Mitchell Johnson? If you don't mind going over to the dark side, what about Mitchell Johnson? That boy's stacked like a Chippendale, and I'm not talking about an 18th Century water closet.
Lucy, London, in the TMS inbox
"I am so, so gutted that Simon Jones won't be playing. All my workmates (blokes) will tell you of my incessant swooning over him in the 2005 Ashes. God that man is sexy, he knows how to bowl over a maiden! To be fair, the current team REALLY isnt much to look at. Well maybe Onions, Broad and Prior could get a seat on the bench too
what do the other ladies think?"
By the way, only by refreshing will you see my name at the top of this page... the weather's pretty ropey in London, but it looks like a ripe peach of a day over in Cardiff. First ever Test in Wales today, and it's a sell-out.
Morning folks, or whatever it is where you are. Many thanks to Stevo for kicking things off, you're now with Ben Dirs
for the rest of the day. Jim Laker put it best: "The aim of English cricket is, in fact, mainly to beat Australia."
As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing bigger and nothing better in sport. An Englishman who takes no interest in the Ashes is like an Englishman with manicured fingernails: deeply suspicious. In contrast, finding an English woman who likes the Ashes is like a finding a quality broadsheet amid a sea of Metros on the Tube. A smashing little bonus that makes the journey go quicker. Be sure to get involved, English women.
Earlier than expected, I give you Ben Dirs. I'll probably see you again around lunchtime. Good luck everyone (unless you're Australian).
Ashes flashback, 2005:
The aforementioned second Test, Edgbaston - surely, surely, surely the most astonishing finish to a cricket match most of us will ever get to see? You'd think words could never do it justice, but fair play to Aussies Jim Maxwell and Geoff Lawson on BBC Radio 4 - they gave it a damn good go. Have a listen if you can - for old time's sake.
From Barry from Perth, via email:
"Anticipation building in Australia also. Although I don't know anyone who thinks Nathan Hauritz should be in the side."
Ashes flashback, 1999:
England are badly struggling in the fifth and final Test in Sydney until Darren Gough roars in and takes the first Ashes hat-trick by an Englishman in 100 years. Ian Healy, Stuart MacGill and Colin Miller are the victims, but despite all that, England go on to lose the match and with it the series 3-1.
From Scott, in bed, via text on 81111:
"Just been diagnosed with swine flu. Got to spend five days at home away from everyone. Perfectly timed on my part I would suggest."
Lots to think about on the first morning - and that's just for the venue, Cardiff. Wales gets its big chance to shine on the international stage, so can the rain hold off and allow five days of top-class cricket? Having lived there for three years, I'd be surprised if we didn't see a drop or two of the wet stuff.
BBC's weather website
If you do a cheeky little manual refresh, you'll see a 606 box appear alongside the other 'how to get involved' chat. Now you've got no excuse not to get involved.
Join the debate on 606
Ashes flashback, 1993:
When Australia captain Allan Border threw the ball to a relatively unknown Shane Warne for the first time in an Ashes Test, cricket was about to change forever. A ball that defied the conventional laws of physics ripped from the bleach-blond leg-spinner right hand, bamboozled Mike Gatting and threw English cricket into a 14-year-long malaise.
From Alan in Doncaster, via email:
"Spent breakfast explaining the importance of the Ashes to my 14-year-old daughter. At work now and I am letting all the staff have access to BBC live text commentary, just about to download Monty masks for them. Can't wait for the banter."
Michael Kasprowicz (again):
"I think Nathan Hauritz will play. I think the bowling line-up will be Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Stuart Clark and Hauritz. People talk about Hauritz being iffy - but the problem with any spinner in the Aussie team nowadays is that they are going to get compared to Shane Warne, which is impossible to live up to. Hauritz has good control, but he isn't an attacking bowler. But if the wicket spins then he can definitely take wickets."
From Gordon in Fife, via text on 81111:
"The excitement is even reaching us here in Scotland. Of course nobody understands cricket, but when I said that it was against Australia everybody is now getting behind England to win!"
Ashes flashback, 1981:
Ian Botham plays the greatest match-winning innings of all time, a magnificent 149 after England had followed on and been reduced to 105-5 in their second innings. Botham's brilliance at Headingley helped England win the match and the series, one of sport's great turnarounds.
Michael Kasprowicz on the end of the Edgbaston Test in 2005:
"Ah look, it's a great memory. I had an Indian guy come up to me afterwards and say 'thank you very much Kasper. Thank you for single-handedly making Test cricket interesting and exciting again'. Of course, that single hand was off the bat at the time and I should never have been given out, but
Alec Stewart on BBC One:
"The stadium is fantastic - what they have done here at Glamorgan is incredible. Do I believe the first Test should have been here? No, I think they should have had a couple of other international matches first."
From George in Spain, via email:
"Into the office in record time this morning. My colleagues here in Spain have no idea what they're missing! I'm going to print them all off some Monty masks to try and inject some excitement. Two spinners for England, Swann to guide England to victory in a memorable first Ashes Test."
From Anon, via text on 81111:
"How often do you like a technical fault on a plane? I have just flown down from Newcastle and we were meant to land in Bristol, but have been diverted to Cardiff, meaning 30 more minutes to soak up the atmosphere. Brilliant."
"Forget the waiting - it's over." Not my words,
but the words of a certain Tom Fordyce,
who will be all over this first Ashes Test in Cardiff for us today. Here's his first top chat: "The sun is shining bright, there are a few clouds around but nothing to worry the spectators. Even at 7.30 the ground was a hive of activity with the groundstaff making final preparations. As for The Pitch of Great Mystery - who knows?"
Ashes flashback, 1956:
England off-spinner Jim Laker produces an astounding performance to take 10 wickets in an innings - the first time that had been done in Test cricket - and take 19-90 in the fourth Test at Old Trafford as England retained the Ashes.
Simon Jones on BBC Radio 5 Live:
"It's amazing, I'm really excited about today and it's a brilliant thing for Cardiff, I hope it goes to plan and it all goes smoothly. It's frustrating not being involved, but I can't wait for it to start."
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew:
"The honest appraisal is that Australia are the favourites - they are a young side, but they are a very good side, you don't go to South Africa and win without being able to learn very quickly. England haven't been able to win many Test matches in the last 12 months, so they will need to take every opportunity they get."
From David, Barnstaple, via email:
"Alright Stevo, thought I would throw my hat in and say I have Ashes fever, or at least some kind of fever, which is confining me to bed as of yesterday. Never have I been so unwell and yet excited at the same time! Come on England!"
We still don't know what the two teams are going to be, though encouragingly it's probably slightly easier to guess England's with a straight choice between Monty Panesar and Graham Onions for the final spot. The Aussies need someone to step in for the injured Brett Lee - but will it be the tweak of Nathan Hauritz, the swing of Ben Hilfenhaus or the all-round talents of Andrew McDonald?
Australia delay naming Test team
From Tom the tired bear, via text on 81111:
"I'm at work all day, but my cricket-hating boss has decided to take her summer holiday this week. Thank the Lord for auto refresh! COME ON ENGLAND! Series prediction - 3-0 England."
Ashes flashback, 1948:
Don Bradman, the greatest batsman who ever lived, is given a phenomenal reception by the crowd at The Oval as he walks to the wicket for his last Test innings. He needed only four runs to finish with a Test average of 100, but was bowled for a second-ball duck to end with an average of 99.94.
Everyone has a favourite Ashes memory, and I'm no different. I was lucky enough to be present at the first day of the Edgbaston Test in 2005, a remarkable time to be an England fan as the momentum of the series shifted over the course of the day.
Ashes 2005, report: Second Test, day one
Fabulous weather-based news comes from BBC Radio 5 Live's Mark Pougatch in Cardiff: "The sun is rising, it's a glorious morning on a massive day for Welsh cricket." Get in.
In roughly 143 minutes, Mr Ben Dirs will be taking over from me in the live text chair. Until that time, I hope you can hit me with all the early-morning banter I could dream of - on email, at email@example.com,
and on text too, to 81111.
At 0900 BST, 606 will open too, completing a stunning hat-trick.
Sport doesn't get a whole lot bigger than this. A mere 1,396 days have passed since England won the Ashes at The Oval in 2005 and since then, we have been counting down to this moment (although apparently there was a series in 2006-07, too). It's England versus Australia, a rivalry to equal any other on earth.
Gallery: Why the Ashes are such a big deal
Let me guess - you couldn't sleep? You've just been pacing around your bedroom all night, counting down the minutes to the biggest sporting event of the summer? Yep, me too. Only 180 to go now, we're almost there. Happy Ashes, everyone.
England & Australia set for Ashes