Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day November 27, 2010

Ghastly spills and nasty spells

Roar of the day
Michael Hussey hasn't been shouting from the rooftops about how good he's been feeling during his run drought of the past year. But the noise he created when he reached his century showed how much it meant to end it. As he clenched Brad Haddin for a celebratory hug, Hussey yelled his relief loud into his partner's ear. It was Hussey's first hundred since January and it might take until the New Year's Test for the ringing to leave Haddin's head.

Near miss of the day
Hussey was five runs from his first Test double-century when he aimed a hook shot to push him closer to the milestone. The pull had been his most profitable shot during the innings, but Finn's ball bounced a little higher than Hussey wanted and he found Alastair Cook at deep square leg. Even though the innings saved his career, Hussey didn't allow himself a smile as he left the ground. That will come later, but first there was the frustration of a near miss to overcome.

Spell of the day
England knew that the third day was their day of reckoning, and no-one knew it better than their bowler of the moment, James Anderson. He had gone to bed knowing he would be armed with a pristine new ball come the morning session, and in eight exceptional overs in the space of an hour and ten minutes, he strung together a spell that deserved to transform the game. Had he managed a breakthrough, his challenge to the tail would have been immense, but Hussey's two referral-based let-offs strangled that prospect at birth. On 82, he successfully overturned an lbw that pitched outside leg; on 85, Aleem Dar said no to a shout that England themselves could have claimed, had they not wasted their lives on day two. Still Anderson refused to be bowed, beating the edge at will while conceding just 14 runs in his spell, and by the time he took a blow, Australia had still not quite chiselled their first-innings lead.

Drop of the day Mk 1
The lead was still a surmountable 39 when Paul Collingwood was thrown the ball. The decision raised eyebrows among the Channel Nine commentators, although his tidy offcutters have become a significant part of England's one-day plans in recent months. Sure enough, Brad Haddin's first reaction was one of over-confidence. He climbed into a first-ball drive but scooped a steepling chance down towards the Vulture Street sightscreen, where Cook backpedalled for all he was worth. The chance, however, burst through his outstretched fingers, and Haddin didn't make the same mistake again. Three balls later he measured his drive to perfection, and thumped Collingwood handsomely for four.

Drop of the day Mk 2
As the afternoon wore on, the sense of despondency seeped into every facet of England's game. The ground fielding developed leaks, the bowling lost its focus, and a once-moderate lead grew as inexorably as the noise among a raucous Saturday crowd, a crowd that knows no other fate for visiting teams than large and thumping losses. Hard as they tried to keep themselves chipper, the nadir of their fortunes came in the 130th over, with Haddin's century already in the bank and Australia's 400 just around the corner. A bouncer barrage from Stuart Broad finally paid off as Haddin pulled uncomfortably to mid-on, but Anderson - one of the best outfielders in the team - didn't get close to the chance.

Mop of the day
Steven Finn's two-wicket burst gave England a shot at parity on the second day, and while he was as helpless as any of his team-mates while Hussey and Haddin were in harness, the manner in which he cashed in after finally luring Hussey into a false stroke was a pyrrhic victory that may yet prove invaluable for future engagements. After 32 wickets in eight previous Tests, he collected a five-for at the first attempt against Australia, with none of Australia's lower-order comfortable with his nagging accuracy from a cloud-snaggingly high release point.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo and Peter English is Australasian editor

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