517/1 and the draw – The Gabba, day five

The scorecard. Yes. 517-1.

Close: first Test, day five, Brisbane
Match score: Australia 107-1 (Watson 40, Ponting 50) and 481 (Hussey 193, Haddin 136, Finn 6-125) drew with  England 517-1 (Cook 235*, Trott 135*, Strauss 110) and 260 (Bell 76, Cook 67, Siddle 6-54)
Session score: Australia 96-0 Australia win
Session in six words: Ponting hits defiant fifty in draw

And so it ended with a handshake. A match of resuscitation and humiliation, when England’s batsmen showed their best and worst, and both sides the limitation of their bowling attacks, ended rather curiously with Australia in the ascendancy. England’s declaration was oddly timed, allowing Ricky Ponting enough time to lay another blow on the confidence of Graeme Swann, and smash Finn when he dropped short. When Finn cracked Ponting on the head with a well-aimed bouncer it was almost impertinent – bad move, that was a shock that got him going.

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If anything, the pitch has been the villain in this game, save for a few that hit the cracks it stayed true until the last, offering little hope of a result save for inexplicable implosion. It has meant a long five days for the players – both teams had sessions of over 150 overs in the field, and yet the Adelaide Oval looms on Friday. Australia will consider changes – they have called Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris to join their squad – and while England are likely to remain unchanged they also have things to consider, namely the form of Swann, the rawness of Finn and whether Ian Bell is batting a place too low at six. England have their own memories to deal with in Adelaide, but that is for another day.

Travelling English will take heart that the result means the series is guaranteed to be alive in Melbourne. Yet ultimately this will be remembered as the day England made 517-1 in Australia. Enjoy it.

Empty stands at The Gabba

Tea: first Test, day five, Brisbane
Match score: Australia 11-1 (Watson 0, Ponting 6) and 481 (Hussey 193, Haddin 136, Finn 6-125) trail  England 517-1 (Cook 235*,
Trott 135*, Strauss 110) and 260 (Bell 76, Cook 67, Siddle 6-54), lead Australia 481 all out (Hussey 193, Haddin 136, Finn 6-125) by 218 runs with nine second-innings wickets still remaining
Session score: Australia 11-1, England 78-0 England win
Session in six words: England declare, Broad gets Katich early

Just when you thought England were going to bat as long as they could, Andrew Strauss sprung a surprise and declared, subjecting Australia to an awkward couple of hours. On cue Stuart Broad made one climb on Simon Katich, some recompense for his luckless, wicketless vigil in the first dig.

Earlier, Cook and Trott had taken England past the 500 mark, pigs in a truffle field, extraordinarily Trott’s second 300-stand in as many Tests. On top of that England’s 537-1 is now the highest completed innings in Tests where only one wicket has fallen. Take that Australia, and in your own back yard. Or maybe garage is more apt – for The Gabba is a monstrous, dirty concrete structure, an oval multi-storey car park that someone forgot to put the storeys in. That said, the famous seats make for pleasant viewing on an empty day, and the floodlights possess the brutal beauty of a cricketing wind-farm, quite appropriate on a day when their bowlers have run out of puff.

The best view in the house

Lunch: first Test, day five, Brisbane
Match score: England 439-1 (Cook 201*, Strauss 110, Trott 100*) and 260 (Bell 76, Cook 67, Siddle 6-54), lead Australia 481 all out (Hussey 193, Haddin 136, Finn 6-125) by 218 runs with nine second-innings wickets still remaining
Session score: England 130-0 England win
Session in six words: On and on and on and…

On and on and on they go. England’s second innings is turning into one monstrous stat that Australia must home some other poor sods are inept enough to better, or should that be worsen. For England Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have been relentless, but in truth they had it easy today against an Australian team lacking fight and motivation.

An Australian paper had labelled England’s attack pie-throwers on Sunday morning. On that basis, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Xavier Doherty and co. must be exhausted, because this morning they have fed England the biggest marshmallow you have ever seen.

Watching their body language you get the feeling several in the Baggy Green would happily have joined the Brisbane public and not turned up today. Where yesterday at least there was discipline, that has gone with the records. When Michael Clarke spilt the gentlest of steers from Trott at slip, you almost felt sorry for them, but the whole team has fielded with the wit of an alcoholic at 3am on his ex-girlfriend’s wedding night.

Cook made it to 200 without much fuss, and Trott followed him to 100 soon after. England look happy to demoralise Australia, perhaps eyeing the chance to let the bowlers blacken a few Aussie moods further before the close.

Through all this the score remains 0-0. Worrying times for Ponting and Australia – with a team short of class and a public apparently losing interest, England must pounce at Adelaide.

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