Kevin Pietersen reflected on a satisfying day for England after their most positive start to an Ashes series for years.
Although the loss of his wicket to an extravagant attempt to sweep, and Andrew Flintoff and Matt Prior late in the evening session, the hosts closed on 336 for seven in Cardiff.
However, Pietersen suggested England should be content with that given their past two starts to series against Australia.
Back in 2005, Glenn McGrath ran amok to dismantle the top order at Lord’s and Ricky Ponting’s team piled up the runs in Brisbane to dominate the opening hours of 2006-07.
“In the previous two Ashes series we’ve played, one successful and one not so successful, Australia dominated the first day,” Pietersen, who top-scored with 69, said.
“At Lord’s four years ago we bowled pretty well but McGrath knocked most of our batters over and they knocked us over cheaply in Australia and we didn’t have the best day with the ball to start off with.
“I could be greedy and the team could be greedy and say we’d like to be four or five down and maybe myself and Paul Collingwood missed out on opportunities to get a really big score, but the way the last two Ashes series have gone we’ll take 336 for seven.”
Pietersen grafted towards what might have been his 17th Test hundred only to perish in bizarre manner as his effort to fetch the ball from way outside off-stump off spinner Nathan Hauritz resulted in the ball ballooning to short leg off his helmet.
“When you get out, you’re out and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “It was unfortunate to hit the ball onto my helmet - if it hadn’t hit my helmet it would have gone down to fine leg and I would have got away with it.
“I don’t think I pre-empted what I was doing, I think I played pretty similar to the way I played all day, but he (Hauritz) probably thought I was going to play that shot and tried to outfox me.”
Australia embraced Hauritz with glee upon the termination of a 138-run stand for the fourth wicket.
It appeared an unnecessary and extravagant stroke but Pietersen found an ally in Australian coach Tim Nielsen, who later said: “That’s just the way he plays.
“He tends to take the game on and he was pretty keen not to let our spinners settle.
“He swept 15 times in the innings beforehand and played them all quite well. “If a guy nicks a cover drive you don’t tell him to stop cover driving, if he misses a sweep shot that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Worryingly for England, Pietersen experienced discomfort in his right calf, having been plagued by Achilles trouble this summer.
But he did not feel the need to seek treatment during his three hours 20 minutes at the crease or during the tea break.
“People obviously saw me limping a little bit but that was because I’ve just started my running programme and getting back to full fitness,” he said.
“I have been on three runs now and it’s just a bit of stiffness in the bottom of my legs.
“I just have to work my way through that, get myself right and I’m really positive about the way things are going.”
Given the licence to play aggressive cricket by captain Andrew Strauss as the eagerly-awaited opening npower Test finally got under way, England bravely followed his instructions.
Having won the toss and decided to bat first, they were twice in danger of surrendering that edge when they slipped to 90 for three before lunch and then lost two wickets in four overs in mid-afternoon and slumped to 241 for five.
But the thrilling and energetic 86-run stand off 95 balls between wicketkeeper Prior and Flintoff provided renewed momentum going into today’s second day.