England v Australia, 1st npower Test, Cardiff, 3rd day July 10, 2009

A memorable partnership, and a few concerns

Partnership of the day
Simon Katich's dismissal for a well-struck 122 ended a magnificent 239-run stand with Ricky Ponting; the fifth-highest second-wicket partnership by an Australian pair in Ashes contests. Not since Ian Chappell and Rick McCosker in 1975 have an Australian duo posted a total of such magnitude for the second wicket in England. Ponting's eventual dismissal for 150 placed him on 11,110 runs (the uber-Nelson?) and just 64 runs shy of Allan Border's mark. Border is the highest Test run-scorer among Australian batsmen, and third over all behind Sachin Tendulkar (12,773) and Brian Lara (11,953).

Concern of the day I
Michael Hussey. Innings of 150 and 62 in the England Lions tour match now appear a false dawn after the once-mighty left-hander was dismissed for a scratchy three by James Anderson. Since the start of the last Australian summer, Hussey has scored just 325 runs at 21.66, including eight single-digit returns. He has not posted a Test century since last year's tour of India, and will find himself under increasing pressure to retain his place in the top-order should his slump extend much deeper into this series.

Concern of the day II
England's old-ball options. The hosts' much-vaunted attack has looked positively pedestrian after the shine has gone from the ball. Cool temperatures and a lush outfield have not been conducive to reverse swing, while Graeme Swann, England's frontline spinner, has lacked the penetration of recent series. Anderson and Andrew Flintoff have threatened on occasion, but the same cannot be said for Stuart Broad, who has nagged rather than imposed thus far in the match.

Shot of the day
The third day of the first Test was notable for attrition rather than aggression, but for one brief moment, Ponting applied the foot to the pedal. With trademark speed and timing, Ponting dispatched a short, sharp Flintoff bouncer over the head of Monty Panesar at fine leg. England's displeasure was compounded when it emerged Aleem Dar had signaled no-ball. A bad session for England had just got worse.

Are you Harmy in disguise?
Andrew Flintoff tried to inspire his team-mates after day two by reminding them of Australia's collapse at The Oval in 2005. When he took the new ball in the first session it was more like Brisbane in 2006-07, when Steve Harmison started the series with a wide to second slip and England tumbled to a 5-0 defeat. Flintoff's ball to Simon Katich wasn't quite that wayward - and it didn't have a demoralising impact of his side - but Matt Prior was required to leap in between first and second slips to make the take.

Byes of the day
Prior was back in action, or inaction as it turned out, twice in two remarkable deliveries from Paul Collingwood. On a day when Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar both struggled to turn the ball one iota, up popped Collingwood with the rippers of the match. He marked his second over with two fast offcutters in quick succession which, with a puff of dust, burst past Marcus North's outside edge, and way out of the reach of Prior's gloves behind the stumps. They were Prior's first byes of the series, but with Australia's lead growing, England weren't sure whether to treat them as a good omen or ill. If Hauritz has a hefty lead to play with tomorrow, the advantage of bowling last on this track may not be England's to exploit.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo