For a brief, glittering period on the second day of the First Test, England threatened to take the Ashes by the scruff. But when rain brought a premature close, they had been defied by a familiar foe in Mike Hussey whose innings tilted the match slightly Australia’s way.
The day epitomised the feeling that there is barely anything between these two sides and that the series may be in the balance until it reaches Sydney where the Fifth Test will be played in the New Year. England, after an unrewarding morning session, regrouped marvellously after lunch and in the afternoon took four of their opponents’ wickets for the addition of 72 runs.
Jimmy Anderson was inspired from the Stanley Street End. Having removed Shane Watson to bring the tourists their only wicket in morning, he captured the premier wicket of the Australian captain, Ricky Ponting with the second ball after lunch. If there was an element of good fortune, Ponting glancing a leg side to the wicketkeeper, it compensated for England’s misfortunes in the morning when two umpire reviews went against them.
Nor could it diminish Anderson’s probing spell. With Steve Finn also finding the right length – removing Simon Katich and an oddly subdued Michael Clarke – England had changed the course of the match. Almost immediately after Clarke’s uncomfortable innings ended, Graeme Swann, wayward initially, produced a peach of an off break to have Marcus North caught low at slip by Paul Collingwood.
More incisions then and Australia would have been on the run. But Hussey, a contentious selection after a moderate sequence in Test matches, played assertively from the start of his innings and his sixth wicket partnership with Brad Haddin, whose unbeaten 22 took 71 watchful balls, repelled England.
Hussey’s pulling was particularly effective and he reached his seventh Ashes half century. He had reached 81 with 13 fours and a six and Australia were 40 behind at 220 with five wickets still in hand when a heavy shower caused play to be called off.Reuse content