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Page last updated at 18:23 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 19:23 UK

England toil after weather delay

Third Ashes Test, Edgbaston (day one):
England v Australia 126-1
Match scorecard

Watson came in for Hughes and scored a fifty
Watson came in for Hughes and scored a fifty

By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at Edgbaston

England endured a frustrating first day of the third Ashes Test, seeing two sessions of play lost because of a wet outfield - and then watching Australia hit 126-1 in the 30 overs that were available late in the day.

Shane Watson, making his Ashes debut and opening in a Test match for the first time, replaced the out-of-form opener Phillip Hughes and hit a fine unbeaten 62, with Simon Katich the only man out. He fell lbw in Graeme Swann's first over for a rapid 46.

Australia were forced into a second, unexpected change when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin suffered a suspected fracture to the ring finger of his left hand in the warm-ups. It was an injury that eerily recalled Glenn McGrath's at the same ground four years ago.

Graham Manou, the 30-year-old from South Australia, found himself making a shock debut as a result of Haddin's misfortune.

England made one change, Ian Bell coming in for the injured Kevin Pietersen, with Graham Onions preferred in the bowling department to Durham team-mate Steve Harmison.

Swann took the only wicket on the first day, Katich for 46
Swann took the only wicket on the first day, Katich for 46

The 21,000 capacity crowd arrived in good time for the scheduled start at 1100 BST.

But despite tremendous round-the-clock work from the groundstaff in mopping up, the almost incessant rain of the previous 24 hours meant there was no chance of getting under way on time.

The forecast had suggested possible occasional showers, but when they came they were longer and more prolonged than predicted, and it was not until lunchtime the rain stopped altogether.

A pitch inspection at 1400 BST, conducted under bright sunshine, led to another 90 minutes later - and by now some jocular booing had given way to genuine irritation among spectators who may not have realised just how soggy parts of the outfield were.

But the rain stayed away, the sun and wind helped dry up conditions, and Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss were tossing up at 1630.

At that stage, Ponting had no idea about Haddin's injury - and so provided a team-sheet with the player's name on it. He had to hurriedly ask captain Andrew Strauss for permission to allow Manou as a replacement, and when play started few were aware Haddin had been withdrawn.

There was some swing for James Anderson early on, but the pitch was too slow for Andrew Fintoff to be a major threat - and in any event neither bowler began particularly well.

Watson square-drove for four off Anderson in the fifth over, before a more fortuitous boundary from him squirted between the slips and gully off Flintoff. The bowler was not impressed.

Katich steered Flintoff off the back-foot through point for his first four, a shot which was hit with no great power but easily reached the ropes, indicating there was little wrong with the outfield.

And when Watson on-drove Flintoff for four more it was 25-0 after eight overs.

The scoring rate rapidly increased, with both players beginning to time their shots with precision, and the second ball of the 13th over - the first bowled by Graham Onions - was driven quite magnificently by Watson past mid-off to bring up the 50-run stand.

Stuart Broad's first over was also punished, Katich making use of a leg-side field with only two men patrolling it to dispatch a couple of loose deliveries for easy boundaries.

OLIVER BRETT'S BLOG

Strauss lost patience with his seamers and gave Swann a twirl much earlier than expected.

The off-spinner had a decent shout for lbw against Watson turned down by umpire Aleem Dar second ball with his second ball. But when the last delivery - his first to Katich - straightened a fraction and beat the left-hander's attempted pull, the Pakistani umpire ruled in favour of the bowler.

Watson was good enough to withstand the final few overs of the day, however, belying a Test average of 19.76 in eight previous matches.

Ponting, who got off the mark with a firm biff through the covers for four to bring up Australia's 100, settled down after an anxious start and was 17 not out, bringing up 20,000 career runs.

With more than 25 overs bowled in the day, there were no refunds available to spectators, while those coming on any of the remaining days can expect to see an extra eight overs in each day - should the weather allow it.


England: Strauss (capt), Cook, Bopara, Bell, Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Onions

Australia: Katich, Watson, Ponting (capt), Hussey, Clarke, North, Manou, Hauritz, Hilfenhaus, Johnson, Siddle



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see also
England bowling was poor - Swann
30 Jul 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
30 Jul 09 |  Cricket
England v Australia day one photos
30 Jul 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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