The modern ritual of Test cricket allocates two half days to each side for pre-match preparations at the venue. This keeps the sides apart and gives each, for a while, exclusive use of the territory.
At the Gabba, over the years, this has most often been the only time a visiting side has experienced such a sense of ownership.
Here at the start of this winter’s Ashes series, Team England in its entirety of more than two dozen meet the Gabba which when empty looks like a random piece of mosaic but when full can take on the daunting qualities of a bear pit.
All but a couple of the squad are dutifully summoning the positive through joy, a mental technique advocated by Andy Flower. Only Swann (far left) allows his mind to wander towards the camera, like a schoolboy who finds it hard to concentrate on teacher. While is that Anderson behind them, out of the union, surveying curator Kevin Mitchell’s handy work?
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Andrew Strauss revs onto the field swinging his bat, briefly obscuring his partner Alastair Cook.
The old comrades touch gloves before the enforced parting known to openers, who must each ultimately face alone their cricketing destiny.
Strauss misjudges the width of the third ball of the series when England have yet to score and, cramped for room and off balance, he slices upwards rather than cuts downwards the delivery from Hilfenhaus.
He shot a Kookaburra in the air
It fell to earth he knew not where
For so swiftly did it fly, his sight
Couldn’t follow it in its flight.
Like a heat-seeking missile, the ball locates the solitary life-form in a huge expanse of the Gabba behind square, the solitary Michael Hussey, who clutches it in the amazement a hermit shows when encountering an unexpected pilgrim.
Note: The images are supposed to take on the dream-like quality of fading memories. If you are looking at this in a year’s time they may have disappeared or transformed themselves entirely.