Australian fans signal four runs for Aussie debutant Ed Cowan at the MCG yesterday.MELBOURNE _ An Australian opening batsman stayed out in the middle for most of the day, Ricky Pointing earned a round of applause and the MCG crowd was exposed to frostbite and sunburn in the same afternoon.

For a while it seemed that traditions had returned to cricket on the opening day of the first Test against India.

But little stays the same in Australian cricket and at the famous old ground.

Australia has lost two of its past three Boxing Day Tests, having won the previous 10.

And after day one against India yesterday the odds are against renewed success, despite some glimmers of hope.

The first was the emergence of mature-age rookie Ed Cowan.

The 29-year-old made his Test debut against India and produced the day’s high score of 68.

More importantly, Cowan showed the patience, technique and class missing from recent Australian opening pairs.

When he was joined by the beleaguered Ponting he lifted his run rate to match the former skipper’s and the pair put on a vital century partnership.

Facing what may well have been his last week as a Test player when he came to Melbourne, Ponting’s capable 62 most likely assured himself a place in the team for the rest of this series.

But there are some new and curious trends to have infiltrated the most traditional of Australian cricketing days and grounds.

From the record crowd of 70,086 for an Australia-India MCG Test match, the in-house cameras focussed on selected couples in the stands, beaming their images framed in a heart, onto the ground’s big screens.

The captured couples are then required to embrace passionately or be heckled by the other 70,084.

The procedure borrowed from the US is known as “Kiss Cam”.

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