Hard work and happiness for Hauritz
If there's larger shoes to fill than Shane Warne's, they must belong to Bigfoot.
For Nathan Hauritz, - two wickets for 260 in his two matches on tour so far - the job is an unenviable one. Picked on the morning of the match ahead of Stuart Clark to give Ricky Ponting a spinning option, his long afternoon in the Cardiff sun looked like being one big on hard work and small of turn.
From the start Ponting seemed to be determined to use him as a defensive option, despite Australia coming out after lunch with England wobbling badly at 90-3. His first field included a long on, deep midwicket and backward square leg, allowing the England pair of KP and Colly to ease the tension with strolled singles all over the park.
There was little thought of attacking, no sign of the sort of flight and variation that might have pulled the batsmen out of their comfort zone.
In some ways that's to be expected - after his flayings at Hove and Worcester, Hauritz is clearly aware that he could be the weakest link in this Aussie attack - but the monotony gave England the breathing space they had been denied by Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus before lunch.
Warne famously accused Monty Panesar of playing the same Test match 30 times. Early in Cardiff his successor seemed happy to produce the same ball 100 times.
Hauritz tends to get his wickets from drift away from the right-handers, rather than big turn. When he did choose to gamble, giving one some air, Pietersen was tempted into a dance down the pitch that nearly saw him beaten.
0-41 off 14 overs reads better than 2-260. 1-42 reads even better. Pietersen's sweep after tea was injudicious in the extreme, but the way that Hauritz celebrated told you that he didn't care.
A wicket from nowhere is always a joy. When it's the scalp of the opposition's best batsman, it feels even better.
Sedate scenes during early skirmishes
Nerves can do strange things to people. They turn some into screaming lunatics, others into hand-wringing mutes. So far at Cardiff on Wednesday there is a whole heap more of the latter than the former.
Such has been the build-up to this series that we almost assumed it would be as raucous as the last Test between the two teams on these shores, the flag-waving frenzy at The Oval 22 months ago.
That might still happen, depending on what happens to the partnership between Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood, and how long it takes for the early afternoon beverages to fizz their way into bloodstreams - but a combination of Mitchell Johnson's wickets and an attritional afternoon are keeping the atmosphere on a tight leash.
There have been just a couple of trumpet tootles from the Barmy Army's horn section, plus an early chorus of God Save The Queen when Ravi Bopara drove Johnson for a classical four.
The Fanatics, three rows deep in the Cathedral Road stand, are making less noise than their Hewitt-cheering compatriots at Wimbledon last week.
The opening day four years ago was an action movie from start to finish - Australia on the ropes, the Lord's crowd ecstatic, England then rocked back to the delight of the cavorting tourists.
This time around it's a slow-burner rather than page-turner - although that could soon change. Representatives of the match sponsor have been handing out fake bank notes called Gatts, to be exchanged for a drink at a reception hosted by the former England captain.
One Gatt = one drink. And if there isn't some sort of all-you-can-eat buffet there too, you can bet that the host might have something to say about it.
Cricket the Welsh way
Since this is the first ever Test match in Wales, it seems only fitting that visitors from across the Severn - and the other side of the world - celebrate that fact by going a little native.
I'll assume that little assistance is needed in the guzzling of Brains, and that if those over the age of 50 wish to grow moustaches they can do it in their sleep.
Language, however, can be a tougher test - so with thanks to Cowbridge Comprehensive alumni Tom Williams and Dogger (don't ask - I can't explain) here are a few key words and phrases to roll your tongue around over the next five days.
Four - pedwar
Six - chwech
Opener - agorwr
Slow wicket - wiced araf
Reverse swing - swing newid
Spinner - troellwr
Rabbit - cwningen
How some might describe KP - chwaraewr senglau
And an easy one for slow learners: stadium - stadiwm
I realise there's not much steer on pronunciation. I'll open the floor to others to provide that - and feel free to dive in with other suggestions of your own.
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