Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 2nd day November 26, 2010

Resurgent Hussey gives Australia the edge


Australia 5 for 220 (Hussey 81*, Haddin 22*) trail England 260 by 40 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The Ashes contest lived up to its billing of being too close to call on a fluctuating day at the Gabba. England's bowlers staged a spirited fightback before being quelled by a resurgent Michael Hussey, whose unbeaten 81 gave Australia the edge when bad light ended play. The hosts lost four wickets during the afternoon session as James Anderson and Steven Finn produced fiery spells, but Hussey was joined by Brad Haddin and the sixth-wicket pair added 77 to leave Australia sensing a vital lead.

We'll never know what the Australia selectors would have done if Hussey had failed in the second innings of the Sheffield Shield match against Victoria last week, where he struck a hundred after an 18-ball duck in the first innings. His first ball today was inches short of reaching second slip but that was about his only alarm during an assured display, where his attacking approach against Graeme Swann laid down a marker for the series. Five fours and a six came against the offspinner, who, along with the quicks, regularly dropped short to feed Hussey's pull.

However, England's attack showed enough to suggest they can more than hold their own in Australian conditions with Anderson the most impressive as he began correcting a poor record down under. Not only did he claim two vital wickets, but his economy of under two meant the hosts didn't race away. As a whole, England maintained good control when wickets weren't falling although Finn's two successes came at a slightly high cost.

England were denied the early breakthroughs they wanted during the morning session as Shane Watson and Simon Katich rode the occasional moment of good fortune. The first major alarm came when Katich, on 22, raced off for a single into the covers, which Watson declined. A direct hit from Alastair Cook would have had Katich well short but the throw missed, while Matt Prior couldn't reach the stumps in time.

The tussle between Watson and England's quicks was engrossing. The bowlers targeted his pads and Watson responded with handsome straight drives, but he also got into a tangle against a well-directed short ball from Broad which struck him under the arm and lobbed just clear of the stumps.

England thought they'd broken through when Katich was given lbw against Anderson but the decision was overturned on referral for height, then the visitors tried their luck with a review against Watson but it was only clipping leg stump and couldn't be changed. By now, tensions were starting to mount - especially between Anderson and Watson - but to Anderson's credit he kept his composure and his line as Watson edged a good-length delivery to first slip.

Anderson then gave the team a perfect start after lunch when Ricky Ponting glanced an edge down the leg side. With his tail up, Anderson gave Clarke a working over and was well supported by Finn, who produced a fine spell having begun nervously on his Ashes debut.

Katich had reached a nuggety half-century from 103 balls but hadn't added to his score when he scooped a full delivery back towards Finn, who stooped low in his follow-through to hold a fine catch for such a tall bowler. Having made an impact, Finn then found Hussey's edge first ball but the nick fell agonisingly short of Swann at second slip.

England were convinced they had Clarke caught behind before he'd scored when Finn nipped one back to find the inside edge and they used up their final review after Aleem Dar said not out. However, Hotspot didn't show an edge so the decision was upheld, although Snicko - which can't be used as part of the UDRS - did suggest a feather from Clarke's bat.

England had a stranglehold over Australia but Hussey broke the shackles with two pulls off Finn. There was then a clear indicator for the series as Hussey took the attack to Swann - who had previously bowled two one-over spells - and used his feet to on-drive a six before cutting through the covers. When Swann continued to drop uncharacteristically short he was pulled twice through midwicket.

Finn, though, returned for another spell and made an immediate impact when Clarke's painful 50-ball innings ended with a top-edge pull. Clarke had already been struck on the helmet and the glove by Stuart Broad as he refused to attack the short ball, and his first attempt at something aggressive brought his downfall. Swann, whose first four overs cost 34, then produced his best delivery of the innings that spun to take the edge of North's bat as he collected his latest failure which will reignite the debate over his position at No. 6.

Haddin, who is playing his first Test since March following injury, immediately looked solid at the crease and after tea began to chip away at a tiring attack, while Hussey maintained his role of aggressor. Hussey's fifty came from 85 balls and the midwicket fence continued to be his favoured location for boundaries. England were desperate to reach the second new ball, but the moment it became available the light closed in, followed shortly by rain, which meant the next key stage of this match had to wait. The morning should be compulsive viewing.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Craig on November 27, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    Cracking day for hussey, day 3 should be an interesting day

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2010, 23:13 GMT

    Paullie 'this is the test England must win to be a chance'! R U kidding? Believe me my friend if England win in Brisbane and that is a significant if, this will be a very ugly series for the home fan.

  • Mark on November 26, 2010, 23:07 GMT

    So many possibilities for the next test.. Two Spinners who to dump..

    Will North Go for White or for Smith

    Will Watson move to North's position and have hughes in?? SO many Possibilities

  • Aegnor on November 26, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Great stuff from Hussey, but again disappointing from North. Clarke didn't look fit and you wonder at the wisdom of him playing if that was the extent to which he could bat. Yesterday highlighted how reliant our middle order has become on Clarke and Ponting, so Hussey's somewhat unexpected return to some form is a great relief. He's always been a player prone to runs of form (good or bad) - hopefully this signifies a return to a good period for him, and he can make what you'd still expect would be his last Ashes a memorable one.

    To state the obvious, the first hour this morning, and the second new ball, will be vital to the outcomes of this match.

  • Aegnor on November 26, 2010, 22:31 GMT

    Ashes' Debut, not overall Debut.

  • Paul on November 26, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    "England's attack showed enough to suggest they can more than hold their own in Australian conditions" That's hillarious. They will never get conditions which are better suited to their bowlers than the Gabba when it's wet, unless it's Sydney with heavy cloud cover, and they still only dismissed half the Australian side in almost a full day's play. THIS is the test England must win to be a chance in the series - and they know it. Their bowlers must be bitterly disappointed with Day 2.

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2010, 21:47 GMT

    fascinating day of cricket,but i bet on australia to come good under pressure,wkich is natural to them

  • Mick on November 26, 2010, 21:14 GMT

    Doherty has a test bowling average of 20.5. Very impressive for a debut. Australia have found their spinner for the next 5 years. He will add plenty to the young Aussie bowling lineup by keeping it tight from 1 end and taking the occassional wicket. He may not have a high batting average in domestic cricket but he spends valuable minutes at the cease supporting the batsman at the other end. If he can bat for a hour or more with Huss or Haddin at the other end it will go along way to securing a big first innings lead.

  • Andrew on November 26, 2010, 21:14 GMT

    @ Jim1207 - mediocre hey? Fact is in places OUTSIDE the subcontinent pitches are much more result orientated. So far in two days @ the Gabba, there has been more swing, seam, bounce & spin then the entire Indian cricket season.

  • Andrew on November 26, 2010, 21:10 GMT

    @Bollo - the Poms are ahead at the moment. Oz will have to do something remarkable to turn the match around (I hope they do cos I'll be there today!). @Warnerbasher - LOL @Okakaboka - you are right re: North - but he is likely to come out & score a century in the 2nd innings, also IF Oz win - he won't be dropped. @RJHB - correct, I felt Oz bowled alot of bad balls, I think they were trying too hard for swing. @raghu1122000 - the rankings may be simple - that does not mean they could be distorted by where & against whom teams play. India are #1 - (I was not inspired by SA v Pakistan) - the problem for India is that people don't respect the achievement yet because despite some good performances, there are alot of average performances & alot of favourable factors in India's favour at the moment. If they at least draw in Sth Africa - I am more than happy respect India's ranking. I would respect India's ranking more if they accepted UDRS too!

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