THE return of Test cricket to our television screens on Thursday signalled the unofficial start of summer for many Australians.
But as the Indian and Australian teams took to Adelaide Oval to begin their four-Test series, it was a case of so much has changed even as so much has stayed the same.
For a start, for the first time in 40 years most Australians were not tuning into Channel 9 to watch the cricket.
The former home of Richie Benaud, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry has lost the rights to host the cricket following a bidding war with Foxtel and Channel 7, and fans are now getting to know new voices, new faces and new personalities in the commentary box.
And there are a few new faces in the middle, as well.
Australia’s much-publicised tribulations in South Africa earlier this year have robbed the national side of its two best batsmen, along with its captain.
Thursday was the first time most viewers will have had the chance to see Tim Paine in charge of the Australian side with all his previous matches as captain shown only on pay-TV.
There was also a debutante in Marcus Harris and Travis Head was playing his first Test on home soil.
Only the most avid Australian fan would have been able to pick all three of those players out of a lineup just six months ago.
Meanwhile, the fallout from the ball-tampering scandal has shone a bright spotlight on our national side and made Australians question not only how we play cricket but also how we think about the game.
We have been forced to draw our own conclusions on where the line is drawn between cheating and playing “hard but fair”.
For all the change, though, what remains the same is the Australian sporting public’s fascination and love for Test cricket, a curious relic from a bygone era.
As the world around us moves faster and faster, it’s comforting to know there is still a place for this most sedate of sporting pursuits.
We can still embrace the game that gave us Bradman, Benaud, Booth and Border, and get behind our national team in even its toughest times.
And whether we win, lose or draw against the Indians, at least we can now all celebrate the start of this summer’s Tests finally putting an end to Australia’s winter of discontent.