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Dossier moments needed

Graeme Smith plays a cover drive. Click for more photos

Day one, first Test - Australia v South Africa

South Africa bat first as the battle for the world No.1 ranking starts at the Gabba in Brisbane. Photo: Getty Images

THE smallest measurable increment of time is that between the appearance of a red carpet and Brynne Edelsten plonking a Manolo Blahnik on the Berber. A close second was the fleeting instant between Graeme Smith correctly calling heads and the first commentator declaring this ''a good toss to lose''.

The customary ''greenish tinge''. A heavy atmosphere. A lively Australian attack. First morning nerves.

Somewhere, Nasser Hussain woke in a cold sweat. Still haunted by that morning in 2002 when, having ticked those Gabba boxes, the England captain sent Australia in. By the end of the day Hussain and his ''weapons of misdirection'' had restricted Australia to 2-364.

The Australians, at least, did not dig their own grave. Nor was the damage quite as painful or irreversible as that of a decade ago. But after a combative lead-up during which the home nation had suffered delusions of equivalency with the highly regarded visitors, the sense of disappointment was palpable.

Particularly in the Nine commentary box where, rather than celebrating a rollicking day by Australia, the boys were fiddling with a new toy, ''The Desk'', a recycled Pacman consol that spews out informative tit-bits about players - albeit, in Mark Taylor's case, not always the one being discussed.

There was also the ritual bullying of new boy Glenn McGrath, who was taunted about the questionable intelligence of fast bowlers. McGrath fought a tenacious battle to establish his IQ as higher than his batting average. Unfortunately, during some very un-dossierlike spells, the Australian quicks did less to enhance their intellectual reputations.

It is one thing to publish a dossier, quite another to assume the bowlers will read it. Or so it seemed in the periods when cliche harmonised with reality and Australia's bowlers spurned the full length and consistent line needed to exploit any real - or even perceived - advantage the conditions might have granted.

The lone successful dossier moment came when, as prophesied, Smith was trapped lbw. Otherwise, the start was so listless Dean Jones was prompted to tweet Peter Siddle was bowling ''pies''. Although, to everyone's relief, Jones did not expand his cyberspace sledging to Hashim Amla, whose dossier suggested he was no more susceptible to taunting than he is to razor rash.

The Australians did have cruel moments - most agonisingly, Jacques Kallis caught from a Siddle no ball. Opener Alviro Petersen was also trapped lbw, the review system showing that a yorker struck his foot fractionally before his bat and would have hit the stumps. However, it was not hitting enough of the stumps to satisfy the new regulations. Which made you wonder how much of the ball must now hit the bat for the review to give a catch and, more pertinently, if the review system is being calibrated to match the umpire's decisions, why is it being used at all?

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