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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram on November 28, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    You forgot(??) to include the best play of the day - Brad Haddin reaching his century off - the reportedly best spin bowler in the world, Graeme Swann - with a SIX!

  • Daniel on November 27, 2010, 23:40 GMT

    Not to take away from the superb partnership, but Ian is spot on about the freakish combination of circumstances (a review wasted on Clarke's caught behind that was out, but hotspot didn't show it) that led to England being unable to review when Huss was out lbw but the decision was incorrect. He is also correct that England need to keep their tails up in this kind of adversity. A battle lost perhaps, but the war is far from over.

  • Gopalakrishna on November 27, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    Am I seeing a different game or North is playing some other game. Yes we have bragged about Huss, but he has proved us wrong. But North doesnt have the class which Huss or Ricky has! Please please please drop him.. Can give Clarke another go, unless somebody is shouting his case, which obviously is not since another failure for Callum Fergie..

    Brad Hodge? I am a big fan of this big old fella!

  • Gary on November 27, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    Clarke and North must be left out. Clarke for injury and should go back and play out the summer for NSW. Steve Smith in for North and Cameron White or D.Hussey in for Clarke. I dont think selectors have strength to go with Smith and another young player. Ryan Harris must be close. But for who? But Smith must come in for North especially for Adelaide. Although it appears North is for his bowling. Too early to carried away the game is not over.

  • Ramakrishnan on November 27, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    Considering the strong position in which Australia is placed at the end of the third day, even if they win by a good margin, their Selectors will harm their team interests no end, if they continue to select North and Clarke for the next test match. Its time for the Australians to blood new comers to fill these two non performers.

  • John on November 27, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    What a great partnership. Just superb. - Interestingly, wasn't the Pietersen/Collingwood partnership in 06 in Adelaide 310 runs as well?

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