Hussey and Haddin punish Poms – The Gabba, day three

Centurions Brad Haddin and Mike Hussey lead Australia off at tea

Close: first Test, day three, Brisbane
Match score: England (19-0 and 260, Bell 76, Cook 67, Siddle 6-54), trail Australia (481 all out, Hussey 193, Haddin 136, Finn 6-125) by 202 runs with 10 wickets still remaining
Session score: Australia 45 for 5, England 19-0 England win
Session in six words: England fightback to keep hope alive

A press box is like a cinema. There is an initial inclination to consider the front row to be the best, naturally enough as it is closest to the action – bigger is better, that sort of thing. The more experienced, however, will avoid the front like they would the salad in India. Which explains why I’m experiencing temporary blindness in the middle of a solar panel, peering through the glare as the sun ducks under the overhang in the final hour of play.

The greenhouse heats up

It’s been a fascinating session. Australia’s innings was best summed up by 143-5, 307-0, 31-5. England bowled well all innings and will rightly be perplexed. Graeme Swann will be a little worried, Anderson and Broad aggrieved. Steven Finn will chuckle in a few years over ending up with six, well as he persevered in bowling 34 of 159 overs. If his afternoon session yesterday proved he could trouble the best, the next four proved fine-tuning is still needed, not least to a front leg that is still prone to collapse.

The dismissal of Haddin, caught pushing half-heartedly at Swann, and the innings of Johnson, bowled for a 19-ball duck, were symptomatic of Australia’s curious approach after tea. They were lacklustre where they had been proactive, and it cost them the chance to put the game beyond England. As it is, though a deficit of 221 is formidable, at least England have a chance on what is still a decent pitch.

With 17 overs for Strauss and Cook to see out drama was inevitable, and it came from the first ball of the innings. Extraordinarily Strauss shouldered arms on a pair only for a referral to prove Aleem Dar correct again in this match, Hilfenhaus left rueing those two inches of extra bounce. Once again, the first hour tomorrow looks to be crucial.

Brad Haddin celebrates his century

Tea: first Test, day three, Brisbane
Match score: Australia 436 for 5 (Hussey 176*, Haddin 134*), England 260 (Bell 76, Cook 67, Siddle 6-54)
Session score: Australia 107 for 0. Australia win
Session in six words: More of the same from Australia

It’s not a good time to be an England fan here, so it’s probably for the best that the motherland was largely at rest during this most gruelling of sessions. As the sun beat hard on The Gabba, Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin made sure that England suffered the maximum discomfort.

The partnership now stands at 293, and the truth is that England have been outplayed. They have bowled well, but without luck, and against batsmen not afraid to take chances and look to dominate on a good pitch. It doesn’t mean that the make-up of the team is wrong, just that the series is more even than was anticipated by an over-confident English media and their overly-pessimistic Australian counterparts.

One chance was offered, another skier from Haddin when he had 113 that Anderson this time could not grasp on the turn. It was a slow session for the spectators – nothing much seemed to happen, yet runs continued to accumulate, as though through their onslaught in the hour before lunch Hussey and Haddin thad bought the right to bat through until tea. England will be disappointed with their fielding, the fumble that brought Hussey his 150 epitomising the dropped shoulder that pervaded as tea approached and the scoreboard ticked towards inevitability. Who knows what difference Andy Flower would have made in the English dressing room over the last 24 hours.

Lunch: first Test, day three, Brisbane
Match score: Australia 329 for 5 (Hussey 124*, Haddin 79*), England 260 (Bell 76, Cook 67, Siddle 6-54)
Session score: Australia 109 for 0. Australia win
Session in six words: Hussey and Haddin survive and slaughter

If you lean on elastic for long enough, it will either snap or send you flying backwards. Unfortunately for England, Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin pulled the slingshot this morning. For an hour they absorbed everything England threw at them – and it was good, hostile, tight stuff. They survived decisions given and referred, and not given and unable to be referred, as Jimmy Anderson pointed and pouted. As the Grandstand commentary put it, “Mr. Cricket. He goes upstairs more than the butler”. Finally, when Hussey and Haddin sensed the new ball had lost its sheen, they ‘bloody smashed it mate’.

Hussey’s ton was celebrated like a country had found a favourite old sweater in the back of an unlikely closet. Haddin had a life towards the end when Cook could not back-pedal quickly enough, but he deserved his luck for his canny in a calculated counter that knocked an already frustrated England totally off balance. It’s a partnership as impressive as it seemed unlikely, given the overcast conditions and new ball that favoured England at the start of the day.

It’s times like these, when Collingwood emerges as a partnership breaker, that England’s attack looks a bowler short. Finn is raw, Swann negated by the pitch, and Anderson and Broad have clearly picked a fight with fortune. With Australia leading by 69 with five wickets left, England’s must strike quickly.

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