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First sight of the Gabba

Oliver Brett | 08:27 UK time, Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Oliver BrettOne of the best Australian rock albums of recent years is Vulture Street, released by the Brisbane band Powderfinger in 2003.

They got the name from the long, undulating road that connects many of the suburbs in the south of the city.

And on Thursday, it will be filled by rival cricket fans making the journey to the Gabba, because Vulture Street also leads to the venue for the first Ashes Test.

This vast, hulking stadium, constructed in no-nonsense style with giant slabs of concrete, is typical of Australia’s main sports stadiums.

Jones was injured at the Gabba in 2002While used exclusively for cricket in the summer, the cash tills keep ringing in the remaining months because the Brisbane Lions, an Aussie rules side, also pull in big crowds.

You might remember Simon Jones’ horrible injury here four years ago when he twisted his knee in the outfield.

It transpires that such mishaps are a regular occurrence in matches featuring the Lions, where career-threatening knee injuries occur about twice a year.

It’s because of the wire-like grass that grows in these parts. Stand on it, and it’s difficult to rotate your feet from side to side. Wearing studs, it’s virtually impossible.

One of the best views of the action will be from the banqueting suite, which I briefly had to myself during a lull between practice sessions.

I have been to a few sports stadiums around the world, but it was pretty special to make that first connection with the ground where episode one of this great saga will be played out.

The seats are picked out in one of three colours - blue, gold and red – but there was a bit of talk, too, about the colour of the wicket.

Normally, two days before a Test the playing strip would be pale green, ready for its final cut.

But this was already a yellowish surface, and it was receiving a vigorous watering. Could this persuade Duncan Fletcher to play both spinners? You never know.

The Aussie players have been involved in a myriad of gimmicky marketing events – quite why Cricket Australia thinks this series needs futher promotion is a mystery.

By contrast, England arrived in the city late on Monday, went to nets on Tuesday morning, and dashed back to the sanctuary of their hotel at lunchtime.

Steve Harmison worked up some good pace in his half-hour bowling spell – an encouraging sign – but it was good to see Liam Plunkett, despite not getting a game so far on tour, also looking the part.

Brisbane Gabba groundHis run-up and action are not the most fluid, but he was bowling some very good balls – one of which caught the edge of Andrew Strauss’ defensive shot.

When he got back to his room, it is to be hoped that Geraint Jones did not find a copy of the Courier Mail jammed under his door.

The backpage headline, sitting over a photo of the Kent wicket-keeper, asks “Will this man drop the Ashes?”

The story reminds readers, ungallantly, that Jones “toiled in Brisbane grade cricket for years” but it would not have been written at all if Shane Warne had not rubbished the player on Monday.

It may be asking a lot, but the best response from Jones would be a century at the Gabba, completed with a nonchalant boundary off the Machiavellian spinner.

Listen to how you can follow The Ashes on the BBC

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:20 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Paul Chadbourne wrote:

Shane Warne has a very short memory. Maybe he should watch the highlights of the final test match at the Oval from the last Ashes Series before talking about people 'dropping the Ashes'.

I seem to remember someone downing a simple chance off KP at slip (and that really was dropping the Ashes) - i wonder who that was Warney??

  • 2.
  • At 11:31 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

The simple truth is that whilst a useful Test player (nothing more) Geraint Jones would never have played Test or international cricket for Australia. Full stop. It remains to be seen how he performs in this series but there is no shadow of a doubt that besides this being the biggest series of any of these players' careers, that Jones on top of that is returning after being dropped from the Test side - not for his keeping, mind - but for his suspect batting and lack of runs (which is actually supposed to be his stonger suit). As Warne suggested in his interview it is stating fact and not sledging to say that he has more pressure on him than most participants in this match.....

  • 3.
  • At 01:43 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Andrew Shaw wrote:

Interesting point about the pitch preparation. Is Australia preparing the pitch for Shane Warne? Which of course they are fully entitled to do. But if this is the case should we go in with both Motny and Giles? Whilst I expect both spinners to play at Sydney, it would be an interesting decision to play both at the Gabba.

  • 4.
  • At 02:03 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • bob Robertson wrote:

nice one from the courier mail regarding remebering dropping the ashes- i though our lads picked UP the ashes last summer and that supposedly awesome and outstanding cricketer warney showed that under pressure he cracks as HE DROPPED THE BALL thast returned the ashes home- The Aussies have always been daft, they show it, act it now write about it

  • 5.
  • At 03:11 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Alexis wrote:

Thanks Oli good piece, can't wait!

Does anyone know if there is anywhere to watch the ashes in Paris this weekend?


  • 6.
  • At 05:17 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Paul Gibson wrote:

What a pity it's Bell, not Jones that's got injured. Mind you, Jones probably wouldn't have got near a decent delivery!

  • 7.
  • At 05:24 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Asghar wrote:

is any one knows about live telecast of Ashes except Sky Sport.

i think the main man in this Ashes will be (I Bell /Harrmson) If these two perform well and from Australia (Hussy/ Gilcherest/Mcgrath ) perform bad we have Ashes.

  • 8.
  • At 06:10 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • shahid shah wrote:

Coming to the grass at the gabba one has to note that its very important for the player not to slide on the first morning. Mainly because of the nature of the grass. Before the morning of the test match it is freshly cut and watered. To dive while its freshly cut and watered, it can cause a knee injury. thats why it happened to simon jones and after that his knee never recovered. thats where nasser hussain decision to bowl first was having a greater bearing not only on 2003 Ashes but also on Jones's carrer. By batting first atleast the injury to jones could have been avoided. and who knows he would have have been playing at this time around as well..... aah i wish if he had batted first at the gabba.

  • 9.
  • At 07:07 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Feraz Mustafa wrote:

There is a huge amount of pressure being put on Jones, whether he is the best man for the job is debatable but whatever successes he has will outweighed by mistakes.

Everyone is watching every step he takes, he could score two 50's in first test but a single mistake behind the stumps will be the main headline, similarly he could have a blinder behind the stumps but not score any runs and the question will be that he was picked for his batting and Read would have kept just as well.

It will be interesting to see how he copes and it is by far the biggest selection gamble Fletcher/Flintoff have made.

  • 10.
  • At 10:03 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Ben Ogden wrote:

If you are outside of the UK and still want to watch the Ashes, for a fee you can get registered for the whole series at

Living here in the cultural void known as the United States there is absolutely zero cricket coverage unless you have a satellite dish. I don't but I still want to watch cricket so ever since The Ashes last year I have watched live streaming coverage of the cricket on my computer courtesy of

I hope you find this useful, and all I have to say now is, COME ON ENGLAND!!!


  • 11.
  • At 11:20 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Laura wrote:

I went to my first cricket game last year at The Gabba, been hooked ever since! Still learning the game but cant wait for the first test. The Gabba is an amazing stadium and it should be awesome to watch. Backing the Aussies for this one! Dont let us down boys!

  • 12.
  • At 01:12 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Gazza wrote:

The series in 2005 was a giant of a sporting occasion. The combative never say die spirit of the aussies was there as ever. The fitness and shear determination of England was gritty and unbowing; which is what it takes to even compete
with the gold and green.
My nephew is singing in the choir and playing in the juniors match prior to the first test at the gabba, a proud moment.
Proud aussie as he is I still hope the boys can keep the ashes and bring them home.

  • 13.
  • At 01:32 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Marty wrote:

As a one eyed loyal Aussie supporter it hurts me to say this. I think England has to win this otherwise International Cricket will become a bigger joke. We need to get beaten at home, I can't remember the last time somebody did. As hard as it will be for us to get beaten we need it bad. The team is too old and we are way to over confident.

  • 14.
  • At 06:03 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • geoff chapman wrote:

i just hope we dont regret dropping the best wicketkeeper,dont forget jones will have to make the runs up for anyone he drops.

  • 15.
  • At 07:37 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Dean May wrote:

I was at Brisbane 4 years ago, I had travelled with my wife from the UK to see my first Ashes Test Match, we had a great time so far, we met Richie Benaud on the flight from Sydney to Brisbane, then had the courtesy of the Sky Sports comentary team sat on the opposite table in a restaurant, so all was going well it seemed. We got to the Gabba, the sun was shining, the pitch was straw coloured, and then they announced Nass had won the toss, I thought "great, I can relax and watch England bat all day", then the guy broke the news that England were to bowl, the gasps going on around us were quite something, then that horrible injury to Jonesy, Nasser what were you thinking?
As far as G.Jones is concerned I think we should give him a break, yes he is inconsistent but we should get behind him, he is in the side, we can't change that, I don't rate Read as a batsman, I aways remember Chris Cairns' slower ball to him, that image has stuck, but this is an argument that has no winners unless 1 of the keepers does both jobs of keeping & scoring runs very well.
In my mind if you want a keeper who will get you runs you need to pick the keeper with the best 1st class average, face it, only very exceptional players average more in test cricket than 1st class, and the guy with the best 1st class average in England is Matt Prior, so "in theory" he will get you more runs in test cricket, I am not sure the England management know what direction they want to go in, maybe they see Jones as the guy to get them the most runs in the hope that his keeping will improve with time, is that a better bet than a guy whos keeping is great and his ability to score runs will improve in time? who knows.

  • 16.
  • At 08:05 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Mark Kelly wrote:

After a day's cricket at the Gabba, I recommend a few 'cold ones' at The Storey Bridge Hotel (pub). As an expat who used to live in Brissie, I had many a great times at the Gabba watching the cricket and AFL and the pub I mention is where I watched England beat the Aussies in the RWC. Good luck to the lads, Come on England, we can do it again! I just wish I was there!

  • 17.
  • At 10:15 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • monty wrote:

Haha. Mr. Warne's realised that his traditional sledging methods are pretty much worn out so he has taken to reverse psychology!
good thing he did not go as far as old pigeon did last time around (McGrath has even claimed a whitewash is on the cards this time around. Thank god for the aussies he is getting no air time). Even though Warney knows a thing or twenty about bowling at the gabba seeing as his average is below 20, i would take his comments with a pinch of salt.
Although i do fear for Geraint Jones should he do something sill in this Test.

  • 18.
  • At 11:07 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Robert Rolls wrote:

That is two poor decisions already. If we lose this test it will be done to the selectors! Have a look at the great teams Australia, All Blacks, do they go with a standard team or have people fight for their places? Jones and Giles should not be playing. Let's swap experience with form. There is enough experience already!

There is a programme on australian foxtel television called an auzzie goes barmy. I think that an australian has to sit in a croud of english and cheer. If we win (which we will) the australian man will have to support us for the rest of his life. Just thourght i'd warn you

thaks for listning

Samantha Howland

  • 20.
  • At 12:53 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • John Pyper wrote:

I hope this isn't how the ABC Tv / Sky TV coverage is going to continue. When the National Anthems were played, the English anthem sung 'one' young singer they never showed the England team. When australian fayre was, by 'four' young females, they showed the whole aussie team, singing at the top of their voices. Get at em!


Come on Freddie and the rest of the England boys! Bring the trophy back and show them lot down under who the real men are!!!!

  • 22.
  • At 07:10 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • John Kannens wrote:

Why is Geraint Jones playing for England in these tests?! Chris Read has shown that he is better with the bat and he has also shown that he has got better and more trustworthy hands than Jones. What is Duncan Fletcher thinking about!!!?

  • 23.
  • At 08:48 AM on 01 Dec 2006,
  • Chris Allender wrote:

What's happening with TMS LW on-line outside of UK? Sometime, mid-snooze, during the night TMS was replaced by some woman telling me that a dispute had curtailed my Ashes enjoyment. What's up? I think feel a Murdoch moment coming on......

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