As Steve Harmison and now Andrew Strauss will testify, England have a habit of starting Brisbane Tests of recent vintage very badly. But Strauss's third ball dismissal yesterday and Harmison's wayward opening delivery of the 2006/07 series are small fry compared to the unmitigated disaster that was Martin McCague in the Brisbane Test of the 1994/95 series.
Dubbed “the rat who joined the sinking ship” by the Australian press on account of his upbringing down under, his selection for the tour ahead of Angus Fraser was already controversial as part of Raymond Illingworth's ill-conceived strategy of fighting fire with fire.
As it transpired McCague may well have been a double agent judging by his shocking performance and captain Michael Atherton would have been better off opening the bowling himself when he lost the toss on the flattest of tracks.
McCague wasn't the only culprit but after a new ball spell that lasted just two overs, he returned in the afternoon for a monstrously bad spell of 6-0-55-0 as Michael Slater flayed the England attack all over the Woolloongabba. He ended up with 2/96 off 19.2 overs but as his victims were Craig McDermott and Glenn McGrath, who were both out to attempted slogs it's safe to assume that his grandchildren will not hear about the time he had McGrath caught at mid-off.
McCague could have been excused his opening day nerves if he hadn't then cried off the second innings claiming that an errant oyster had caused an upset stomach. Most people including Darren Gough concluded that he had bottled it. Crap and cowardly - a rat indeed.