Hussey goes on the pull as tourists fluff their lines

Strauss gambled but he underestimated his foe's fitness and judgement

A batting masterclass from Mike Hussey thwarted England on an absorbing third day. Referrals, bumpers, pulls, drives, songs and a sudden clatter of wickets came along and, through it all, Hussey remained intact. His contribution presented the visitors with an improbable target. If Australia prevail, the MCG will be packed. And it is a coliseum. Let's hope the pitch is as firm and the cricket as absorbing.

Hussey was superb. Unlike his comrades he did not need any help from fieldsmen or umpires, hardly missed a ball and did not endure an appeal. It is not in his nature to make batting look easy because he is earnest and attentive. Suffice it to say that he did not look like getting out.

Nor did England have any clear idea how to shift him. Like the South Africans three years ago they could not find a fault in a game shaped by ability and experience and driven by devotion and ambition. And to think lots of people demanded his head before the series began. How England wish the selectors had obliged!

Apart from Shane Watson, none of the other batsmen looked like lasting long. Several were rattled by the smell of leather passing their nostrils, or else by the threat of it. Throughout the series, England have played Australia at their own game – ruthless, efficient and physical. Now they kept demanding wickets. Most likely they will retain the Ashes regardless of the result here.

Hussey's innings was a lesson in application, courage and execution. In truth he only played two shots with any regularity, the extra-cover drive and the pull, but he played them well and often. Of his 14 boundaries, eight came with pulls and four with off-drives. These strokes counterpoint each other admirably because they indicate that runs can be scored off both feet and on both sides of the wicket.

Hussey has a hunger for the game that shows in every stroke he plays, every moment on the field. He is a cricketer from tip to tail, utterly involved, single-minded from birth. Here his judgementwas quick and his mind was uncluttered. In a trice he was able to assess length and line, whereupon he moved rapidly and decisively into position before playing his shot. He also knew the pitch well enough to ignore anything bouncing over the sticks unless he felt a riposte was warranted.

Hussey's pulling was the highlight of his innings. It has always been a typically Australian shot born of firm pitches and daring young batsmen. Over the years it has been a feature of most of the best local batsmen, or at any rate those of small stature. His execution was flawless. It is no small thing to pull a fast bowler operating on a hard track thrice, let alone 30 times, and on each occasion to play the shot with complete control. Only great batsmen can do that.

That Hussey pulled and hooked frequently was partly due to England's strategy of bowling to his best shot and setting the field accordingly. Strauss gambled that sooner or later the left-hander would miscue but he underestimated his foe's fitness and judgement.

Placement counted among the left-hander's other strengths. Repeatedly he threaded the ball between cover fieldsmen or else split a collection sent to patrol the leg-side boundary. Doubtless he did find a fieldsmen a few times during his long occupation but the lapses were far outweighed by his pinpoint contribution.

Hussey has always been comfortable against high pace but until recently he has been less sure against spin. The sight of him stepping down the pitch to counter Graeme Swann in Brisbane was the revelation of the campaign. He suffered a relapse in the first innings of this contest and learned his lesson.

Swann was forced out of the attack by the left-hander's capable response. As it happens England benefited from his eclipse because Paul Collingwood promptly claimed a cheap wicket. That too was typical of a well-drilledtouring team.

Hussey celebrated his hundred and then resumed the fight. Long before the end of the innings, Australia were heavily in his debt. And the same can be said about the selectors, captain and colleagues. Thereafter it was left to the flingers to finish the job.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?