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Jonathan Agnew column

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen was looking set for a big score before getting out to Hauritz

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Cardiff provided what we expected - passionate and colourful singing and support, but a very slow pitch which offered little to either batsman or bowler.

It was inevitable that the ground staff would produce a lifeless strip - word would have reached them from the administrators that this game must last five days, if possible.

It will almost certainly produce spin later in the match, but there is the danger it will be so sluggish the slow bowlers will be easily negotiated.

The sun shone, and the spectators poured in. Katherine Jenkins and an assortment of male tenors gave it their all as the three national anthems were sung before the start.

At tea, we were treated to some Welsh favourites by a gentleman who apparently was a runner-up on X Factor.


In between we saw Australia take an early grip when they reduced England to 90-3, only to watch Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood bat throughout the afternoon.

Peter Siddle was probably the pick of the inexperienced quick bowlers, but the wickets were taken by Ben Hilfenhaus, who had Alastair Cook brilliantly caught by Mike Hussey in the gulley for 10, and Mitchell Johnson, who dismissed Andrew Strauss for 30 and Ravi Bopara for 35.

Bopara's innings was not convincing. Hit in the throat by Siddle, he was unsettled by another good bouncer and was then beautifully deceived by a slower ball from Johnson which he drove to point.

It was an excellent tactic - Bopara's footwork is rather casual making him a sucker for an inviting drive wide of his off stump.

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff hit 37 from 51 balls in a successful partnership with Matt Prior

Pietersen and Collingwood both showed their frustration at the difficulty of timing the ball on this slow pitch but Ricky Ponting relaxed the pressure by bowling the undemanding spin of Nathan Hauritz and Michael Clarke in tandem for 10 overs.

A total of 138 runs was added before Collingwood edged Hilfenhaus to Brad Haddin for 69 but the real gift came 13 runs later when Pietersen played an indescribably dreadful shot at Hauritz.

Aiming a premeditated sweep at a ball that was so wide of off-stump it seemed destined for first slip, he got a top edge and gave Katich an easy catch at short leg for 69.

I can't believe even KP will shrug that one off as being 'the way he plays'.

What a joy, though, to watch Andrew Flintoff, in partnership with Matt Prior, play some thumping shots to evoke memories of 2005.

Prior matched him shot for shot as they tucked into the new ball, scoring 39 runs from six overs, but Flintoff chopped one for 37 and Prior was cleaned up by Siddle for 56 to leave honours even on the first day.

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see also
England make solid start to Ashes
08 Jul 09 |  England
Pietersen defends Ashes dismissal
08 Jul 09 |  England
England v Australia photos day one
08 Jul 09 |  England
Ashes Ten to Tackle
08 Jul 09 |  Funny Old Game
McGrath expects Aussie whitewash
07 Jul 09 |  Australia
Justin Langer column
06 Jul 09 |  Cricket
The Ashes: head-to-head
04 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket

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