Ashes delayed by rain, pomp

It was a delay as disappointing as it was English.

Pomp and rain combined to ensure the long-awaited Ashes started 15 minutes late on Wednesday in Cardiff.

The toss was scheduled five minutes early at Sophia Gardens, ensuring pre-match formalities could be completed in time for play to start at 11am (2000 AEST).

Red carpet was rolled out – literally.

Everything was in place for the Welsh, Australian and English anthems to be performed and pyrotechnics to be detonated.

Then the drizzle set in.

It cleared, the covers came off and the long-awaited series could soon get under way.

That would have been if officials opted for a no-frills version of what the England and Wales Cricket Board trumpeted as “musical fanfare in the land of song”.

They didn’t.

The sight of Brad Haddin leaping over the carpet, as groundsmen started to roll it up, suggested the tourists were keen to get on with things.

The sodden carpet was still being unbuckled from the turf when Adam Lyth and Alastair Cook walked out to the middle.

Minutes later, Mitchell Starc was at the top of his mark and ready to fire the first shot after so much talk.

Hushed silence from the sold-out crowd of about 15,000 greeted the occasion.

But the anti-climactic trend continued in the first over.

Starc’s first ball was short, but wide enough that Lyth could confidently shoulder arms.

Far more worrisome signs were to come in the first over, when two deliveries bounced twice before reaching Haddin.

“If that’s happening third ball of the match, it’s not looking good for the rest of the game,” Glenn McGrath said of the pitch, while calling the game for the BBC.

Starc was replaced by Mitchell Johnson after two overs, with his namesake extracting more bounce from the docile wicket.

But it was clear Sophia Gardens staff had cooked up a pitch devoid of spice.

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