|Here they are, the duck England squad. Front row (L-R): Finn, Anderson, Root, Cook (C), Broad, Bell. Back row (L-R): Lyth, Ali, Wood, Stokes, Buttler, Ballance, Rashid. Unfortunately I couldn't find a team photo to mock up for Australia, so you'll have to bear with me for them.|
Crikey, I didn't expect to be doing this again, but here we are. The reason for bringing back duck cricket is, as you would expect, quite odd. But that's duck cricket for you. Anyway, having spent the past three years gathering dust on my various bookshelves, the ducks have been dusted off and are ready for a summer of representing the Ashes action.
And so, to the action. Like six years ago, the first Test is taking place in the
Before the match can begin though, there's a bit more rain and the matter of an Ashes opening ceremony (no, really) to go through. The clock ticks past 11 and instead of Adam Lyth facing the first ball, we are greeted with a Welsh voice choir singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, followed by the anthems of Australia and 'England'.
Finally, at 11:15, 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, the Ashes gets underway. Mitchell Starc gets the honour of bowling the first ball - a big responsibility as sometimes, it sets the tone for the rest of the series. Would Starc bowl a Harmison? Would he take a wicket?
|In the end, it sails harmlessly wide of Lyth's off stump and already, the pitch looks dead.|
|Lyth, looking to repeat his shot to the boundary gets in an awkward position and ends up spooning a leading edge...|
|Straight into the waiting |
|It didn't go to plan. Cook, not exactly attacking minded like fellow Essex players Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara, ends up bringing out his cut shot...|
|And edging it behind into Brad Haddin's gloves. England are 42-2.|
|And very quickly, he goes. His painful 7 ball innings comes to an end as he's trapped LBW by Mitchell Starc.|
|Bell ponders a review as it's possibly a bit leg-sided but it's probably umpire's call on Hawkeye. He doesn't bother and it leaves England in trouble at 43-3.|
|After an uncomfortable first three balls, Root gets off the mark with a lovely drive down the ground for 4.|
|Essex bias is subtle as ever.|
|Root gets 2 and reaches his half century. "ROOOOOOOOOOOT" shouts the crowd, although David Warner is convinced they're booing.|
|Another 4 for Root, this time off Watson, sees England bring up the 150.|
|Starc, getting some abuse from some drunk Welshmen in the crowd, finds himself dispatched to the boundary by Ballance...|
|And it brings up his half century. Him and Root see out the rest of the session and head into tea on 190-3.|
|Soon after tea, though, England's resistance breaks. Ballance misses a straight one off Josh Hazlewood and is on his way for 61. England are 196-4. It brings the leader of the next generation of ginger heroes, Ben Stokes, to the crease.|
|Meanwhile at the other end, Root continues to score runs, here hitting a boundary...|
|Which brings up his second Ashes century (cheers Brad). Stokes is ecstatic and runs to embrace the young Yorkshireman.|
|After top edging Johnson for 6, Stokes continues where Essex left off and almost launches Lyon into the River Taff for a huge 6.|
|Straight to Shane Watson at first slip, who takes a low catch.|
|Root departs for a brilliant 134 and it leaves England 280-5.|
|Stokes continues to look to be positive off the bowling of Lyon and he squirts a 3 into the offside...|
|To bring up his half century. All England sides need at least one proper ginger.|
|Moeen Ali also gets in on the attacking Lyon action by sweeping him over the boundary for 6.|
|A clip off the pads for 4 for Moeen, off the bowling of Johnson, brings up the 50 partnership between him and Buttler.|
|Their 50 partnership comes up off only 51 deliveries.|
|But, in a massive blow for England before the close, Jos Buttler departs.|
|He plays a poor shot, clipping it straight to waiting hands of Mitchell Johnson at mid on. He departs for 27 and it leaves England 343-7.|
Blimey, I forgot how long this takes to put together.
Anyway, that's day 1 and it's fair to say it's honour's even. The wicket of Buttler is a huge bonus for Australia and a massive blow for England's chances of getting to 400. However, after being 43-3, England closing on 343-7 is excellent and it means that the day belongs, ultimately, to Joe Root. The bowling of Hazlewood and Starc, especially in the later hours of the day, caused England some bother and that's to be commended on a pitch that looking flat, and very dead. Whilst it's only been a year since the last Ashes series, it remains special and it's good to see England, albeit only on the first day, have a bit of fight.
And so, to the key questions ahead of day two. Will England get 400? Why is Mark Wood a Viking? Is Steve Smith the Baby Jesus? In fact, have I just raided a nativity set for some of these ducks? All these questions will (well, only the first one) be answered tomorrow morning. Do feel free to join me for day 2 highlights, hopefully not at this time of night tomorrow (I got sidetracked the Gasquet-Wawrinka match, sorry).