England's tetchy relationship with the umpire review system took a decided turn for the worse in Brisbane early today.
It was as if coalition partners, thrust together out of necessity, were finally reaching the end of the road.
Twice England were denied huge lbw appeals, once because the review showed that Mike Hussey was not out, once because the tourists had no referrals of their own left. It created a tense first session on the third day of the first Test as if any more tension were needed with both sides desperately trying to eke out an advantage in the Ashes series.
England's coach, Andy Flower, was still absent from proceedings after surgery to remove a melanoma from his right cheek. He had already missed the second day's play following discussions with doctors who decided an operation was advisable immediately, but is expected to return tomorrow.
The misfortune suffered by his charges may not have aided his swift recovery. England immediately took the second new ball, crucial to their chances of keeping Australia within sight and immediately probed Australia's defences. In the third over of the morning, Mike Hussey was beaten by late swing and England's appeal was quickly upheld by umpire Aleem Dar.
Just as quickly, Hussey, on 82, asked for the decision to be reviewed, with Australia still having their two permitted referrals in place. The decision was overturned, rightly, when replays showed that the ball had pitched outside leg stump.
Anderson continued to cause Hussey severe discomfort, however, and in his next over again lodged two appeals for leg before. The first was close, the second was closer. Dar turned both down but the technology demonstrated that he had made the wrong call on the second appeal with the ball hitting Hussey on both pads and going on to strike middle and leg stumps halfway up.
The decision would have been overturned but England had already used their two permitted reviews, both of which had been unsuccessful. If the regulations are clear and the same for both teams it did not exactly reflect well on the ICC's mission to eradicate wrong decisions from the game.
Andrew Strauss, England's captain, was patently frustrated but merely chewed his gum a little more ferociously. Whether England will make attempts to refine the system in future remains to be seen but they are well known to have been reluctant subscribers to the system.
As the pitch - whose friskiness had been enhanced by being rained on the night before – dried out the batsmen gradually loosened the shackles. Hussey and Brad Haddin, took their sixth wicket partnership to three figures. Haddin, the junior partner until then, suddenly took charge when he straight drove Steve Finn for four, delicately cut another boundary to third man, and unfurled a cover drive for another four.
When he then clubbed Anderson viciously mid-off there was just the faintest of signs that England's early charge was being finally repelled.Reuse content