New stands but fans on edge of their seats

If you build it they will come – although it doesn't really matter in which new stand you're sitting when the home side is 5-97 just after the lunch break.

With James Anderson and Stuart Broad bowling with rediscovered authority on a pitch tinged with green, it doesn't really matter if you are sitting in the reborn Noble or Bradman or Messenger stands, or in the seats in the shade of the Ladies Stand you have lined up for since dawn, or the O'Reilly Stand that now seems in desperate need of a facelift of Donatella Versace proportions.

It doesn't matter if you're watching through the eyes of the ubiquitous Spidercam or from the "Skybox" suspended from a crane at third man.

The fifth and final Ashes Test is supposed to be the coronation of Michael Clarke and his team for returning the urn, but for the first half of the day it was England who threatened to spoil the party.

Things were looking up for their skipper, Alastair Cook. For starters, he won the toss. Hooray! Instead of facing the prospect of Mitchell Johnson on a cloudy morning, on a green-ish pitch, he sent the hosts in.

Then Broad bowled Dave Warner. A possible engagement to retired ironwoman Candice Falzon is strongly tipped but not even giddy love can stop Warner from being dismissed cheaply if he doesn't move his feet.

Then Chris Rogers dragged one onto his stumps. Then Clarke departed, but not before playing the cleanest pull shot of the series. Then Shane Watson left after looking like he might be staying around for a while. Then George Bailey moved closer to Test oblivion when he edged Broad to Cook at slip.

Cook juggled the catch, almost coughed it up, but managed to grasp it. As it stands, that is the highlight of his tour.

There's no more maligned figure in international cricket right now than the England captain.

He's still getting over Geoff Boycott's skewering earlier this week.

“He is the sort of nice lad you would love to have as your son-in-law,” Boycott wrote. “Somebody at the England and Wales Cricket Board has to decide if Cook is the right man to captain the team. I don't think he is.”

Clarke's manager couldn't resist turning the knife late in the Boxing Day Test win. Jim Kelly tweeted: “I think we can officially say that Alastair Cook is the worst captain in Test cricket at the moment.”

As so often has been the case this series, Brad Haddin restored the balance for Australia. Before the match, the sight of the keeper-batsman with his daughter Mia walking out on to the SCG turf moistened eyes but also reminded all concerned how far he had come in a year after he abandoned the game to ensure she recovered from neuroblastoma, a form of cancer most common in infants.

Such is the lunacy of social media, whispers about him retiring after this Test quickly gathered momentum as it bounced from one media outlet to another.

Why would Haddin leave now, when the now is so good? After the tea break, he and Steve Smith spanked boundaries before he was dismissed for 75.

Meanwhile, Smith's ton marked another step in the transition from cricket nuffie who enjoys punting on horses to established, dependable middle-order batsman, who enjoys punting on horses.

And what of the new Noble and Bradman stands, which buzzed with members devouring gourmet food and craft beers? Like Donatella, there are a few areas that still need some work.

There were loose wires hanging from ceilings, and not every wall had a coat of paint. Some patrons in the new stand were angry that they had bought tickets to a row that didn't exist, and had to be moved to the Brewongle Stand.

Minor details.

Following the construction of the Victor Trumper Stand six years ago, and now this $200 million development, the SCG continues to evolve.

For too long, Sydney sports fans have suffered inferior facilities at their sporting grounds. Along with the development of Royal Randwick last year, it is finally being delivered the sporting grounds they deserve.

Those who remember the days of the hill, when frozen chickens, cans of Tooheys and inflatable people would be flying thick and fast, might suggest it's all a little sanitised.

Of course, it doesn't matter where you sit. It's what's on the scoreboard that matters. And by the end of the day, having taken the total beyond 300, Australia were sitting far prettier than they had been.

Twitter @awebstar1

The story New stands but fans on edge of their seats first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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