England facing uphill battle
Australia are in complete command of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane thanks to centuries from Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin.
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 28/11/10 1:17pm
Australia are in complete command of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane with two days to go thanks to superb centuries from Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin.
Hussey (195) and Haddin (136) shared a record partnership worth 307, more than England's entire team managed first time around, in a total of 481.
Steven Finn finished with fine figures of 6-125, taking the last four wickets for just 14 runs, but it was an otherwise frustrating day in the field for England.
They closed on 19-0 in their second innings to trail by 202. Had, however, fortune favoured their bowlers in an extended morning session they would not now be facing such a tall order to save their skins at the Gabba.
Poor James Anderson must have walked under a ladder, broken a mirror and had his path crossed by a black cat, judging by the rotten luck he endured during a superb eight-over spell at the start of play.
The Lancastrian, who beat the bat on numerous occasions, thought he had Hussey out lbw for 82 in the third over, only for the batsman to be saved by the referral system as the ball had pitched a fraction outside leg stump.
The DRS saved the left-hander again three runs later, albeit through England's inability to call upon the help of replays to remove him leg before.
Anderson was again the unfortunate bowler when a full inswinger beat Hussey's bat and hit him right in front. Umpire Aleem Dar turned down the on-field appeals, with the suggestion being there was an inside edge.
Replays showed that wasn't the case, though, meaning Hussey could make the most of the reprieve to go on to post his highest Test score.
The relief was clear for all to see when he got to his ton; as soon as he drove through the in-field he began to celebrate and once the ball crossed the boundary rope he yelled out in delight before hugging Haddin.
The show of emotion was hardly surprising considering it was his first Test century since making 134 not out against Pakistan in Sydney 14 innings ago.
Haddin bought up his landmark in fine style, whacking Graeme Swann down the ground for six, to reach three figures for the third time in his Test career.
He had survived a scare on 63 when a scrambling Alastair Cook couldn't cling on to an attempted drive over the top, while a further let-off came on 113 as the normally reliable Anderson barely laid a finger on a mis-hit pull off the bowling of Stuart Broad running backwards at mid-wicket.
Hussey and Haddin's stand had set a new record for any wicket at the Gabba before the former finally fell to off-spinner Graeme Swann.
An outside edge from around the wicket was well snaffled by a diving Paul Collingwood at slip to give the tourists their first success in six-and-a-half hours of play.
Hussey soon joined his long-time batting partner back in the pavilion, as he perished with a double hundred well within his sights. A mistimed pull - a shot that had yielded so many runs for him during his five-and-a-half-an-hour vigil - off Finn going straight out to Cook at deep square leg.
From then on the tail folded in a hurry; Finn bowled Mitchell Johnson off his front pad before he'd troubled the scorers, then got Peter Siddle to glove an attempted hook up in the air for Swann to pouch at second slip.
The seamer ended with six wickets when he wrapped up the innings by tempting Xavier Doherty into a hook to Cook in the deep, meaning Australia had lost their last five wickets for 31 runs.
After so long in the field, England openers Andrew Strauss and Cook were left to come out and bat for a difficult period before the close.
The biggest scare during the 15 overs they faced came from the very first ball. Leaving alone a Ben Hilfenhaus inswinger, Strauss must have had his heart in his mouth when it struck him on the pad. Australia's initial appeal fell on deaf ears and they were also unsuccessful with a referral; the ball marginally high.