Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day November 28, 2010

Strauss and Cook reignite contest


England 260 and 1 for 309 (Cook 132*, Strauss 110, Trott 54*) lead Australia 481 by 88 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

If Australia needed any convincing about England's resilience they were given a day-long example as Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook hit magnificent centuries to give the visitors a golden chance to save the opening Test in Brisbane. The openers added 188 and when Strauss departed for 110, the challenge was taken up by Jonathan Trott, who helped Cook put on a further 121 for the second wicket. Cook ended unbeaten on 132 and England held a lead of 88 when bad light closed in.

While few expected England to fold in a heap - they rarely do these days - even fewer would have expected a stumps score of 1 for 309. However, inspired by their captain the tourists set about showing they'd learnt the lessons from their poor first innings and gave Australia a day of toil in the field to match what England had suffered on Saturday. There is still time for the home side to force something on the final day, but nothing in their bowling in this innings has suggested they have the firepower to succeed.

Strauss's 19th Test hundred, and fourth against Australia, arrived from 184 balls when he late cut Xavier Doherty and his aggression against spin was a key part of the innings. He knew England couldn't block their way to safety, and often used his feet to advance and loft down the ground. Strauss's century celebration was unusually emotional; it hadn't been the easiest start to the series after his first-morning failure and this was another example of England's spirit. The stage was set for him to make it a massive hundred, following Hussey's lead, but he was beaten in flight by Marcus North and couldn't regain his ground, stumped by Brad Haddin.

Cook reached his landmark with a rasping cut shortly after tea and this match has been an emphatic response from somebody who still had his fair share of doubters coming in to the tour. Shortly afterwards he gave a tough chance to Peter Siddle at fine leg off a top-edged pull, but Siddle couldn't quite hold on as he dived forward. Trott was also given a reprieve, on 34, when Michael Clarke's valiant attempt at point failed as the ball slipped out of his finger tips and this time Siddle was the bowler to suffer.

England's opening pair ticked off a few records along their way, including the visitors' highest stand at the Gabba and the best opening effort by any touring team in Brisbane. They also became England's most prolific first-wicket duo in Test cricket, although the record was diluted somewhat as they have played more than twice as many innings as the Jack Hobbs-Herbert Sutcliffe pairing they overtook. But that was a minor point in the bigger picture of England trying to claw their way back into the match, which they did with an impressively aggressive approach. The time-runs equation could be vital in the end.

Having survived a first-ball review yesterday evening, Strauss gave a commanding display, punctuated with his favourite cuts and drives. However, he was given a significant let-off on 69 when Mitchell Johnson, in the midst of a torrid match, spilled a relatively simple chance at mid-off when Strauss tried to loft Doherty down the ground. There was another moment of alarm when he misjudged a pull on 88 which looped over point then an edge flew between the slips to take him to 96, but Strauss will feel England were owed a little luck.

The clearest sign that Strauss's game was in top order came from his shots through cover, which were a hallmark of his dashing start to Test cricket back in 2004. He latched on to Ben Hilfenhaus and Shane Watson when they over-pitched, while waiting on the back foot for anything short. Though the ball was only 15 overs old when play resumed there was very little assistance for the quick bowlers and Johnson, who was the fourth option used by Ricky Ponting, resorted to trying a bouncer-attack at Strauss, but a slow pitch nullified the threat.

Cook showed the same application as he had in the first innings after an early alarm when he sliced a cut between third slip and gully. Most of his other 10 boundaries came out of the middle and he even showed the cover drive, which is rarely seen from him these days. Initially, Cook outscored his captain but normal service was resumed as he dug in but he never became flustered and ticked the scoreboard over. He hacked Doherty through midwicket then cut him for three to move to 97 but had to spend the tea interval sat two short of his hundred, although didn't have to wait long. It was the first time since 1938 that both England openers had hit Ashes hundreds in the same innings.

After Strauss's aggression towards spin brought his demise, Trott began in positive fashion, which meant the scoring didn't seize up. He carried England into the lead with an elegant cover-drive off the struggling Johnson and he ensured two set batsmen were ready to face the second new ball when it came at the beginning of the final session.

Once again a crucial period loomed but Cook and Trott were equal to the challenge. Hilfenhaus found some swing and there were the two tough chances, yet it wasn't quite the threat everyone expected. In a sign of desperation Ponting used up his last review when Trott padded up to Hilfenhaus, but the ball was easily missing off stump and Trott's fifty soon followed as he tucked into Johnson's wayward offerings. This Test has had too many twists to think the final day will be plain sailing, but if England can hold their nerve it will be another in their recent history of incredible rearguards.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Phil on November 29, 2010, 1:22 GMT

    The post Gilchrist effect on world Cricket. Gilly best keeper in the world and great batter so mostl teams wanted a keeper who could bat and didn't worry about the glovework so much. Australia's best gloveman is Paine but selects Haddin. India selects dropsey Dhoni due to his batting. Pakistan with the two Akmals all have been problems for there team even though they score runs. Teams with success this way are NZ McCullum good batter and was kept to Bat and brought in better Keeper Hopkins. Same with Sangakkara and Jayawardene well done to Sri Lanka.. England dropped Geraint Jones for Prior. WI, South Africa and Bangladesh have done well to Select a Keeper for their Glovework only Baugh, Boucher and Rahim. A wicketkeeper that drops catches and misses stumpings hurts the team more than enough that a 50 doesn't make up for it. SOUTH AFRICA'S main strength.

  • Marcio on November 29, 2010, 0:33 GMT

    England will dominate the series? Gotta laugh. They got outscored by 220 runs in the only completed innings of the series so far. Hussey and Haddin didn't have a 300 run partnership becasue the bowlers were "unlucky". The batsmen played well and took their chances, as all large partnerships do - the same for England on Day 4. One swallow doth not a summer make. This game is headed for a lame draw, and any other suggestion is delusional. Only two recognised batsmen have been dismissed in the last 6 sessions. Why would Enland's bowlers suddenly transform into world beaters in the second innings? They might get 4-5 wickets on a turning track, but they aren't far enough ahead to be able to declare early enough. On this track, the Aust could score 200 in quick time if things go their way. Simple as that.

  • venkata on November 29, 2010, 0:11 GMT

    @damian - agreed that indian pitches are lifeless, but same ones produced result for both tests against australia.. there is not much diff in pitches, its more abt having good bowling attacks.. if aus ptiches produced many results in last 10 yrs, big thanks to mcgrath & warne..

  • Sharon on November 28, 2010, 23:37 GMT

    I was bored watching Hussey/Haddin bat on Day 3 and equally as bored yesterday watching Strauss/Cook/Trott. The pitch is dead and it has killed off what should have been an interesting game. Good cricket requires a good competition and a good competition requires wickets. There's way too much to do on Day 5 - only a freakish collapse by one team will give a result from here. Possible, yes, but certainly not a scenario that most fans want to see in test cricket.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2010, 23:07 GMT

    if we didn't get all this rain. we would be on the verg of a result today. this pitch is always a result pitch. i don't think you can say that about the flat lifeless pitches in the sub continant

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2010, 23:02 GMT

    @shrixxx. why would they try to draw the series. they have to win tyo get the ashes. the reason why the pitch is flat, which is a rare as hens teeth at the gabba. is because we have had so much rain and the pitch was at it's early stages on day 1. the pitch right now is a day 3 pitch. indians can't complain about australias pitches. y6our pitches are flat and lifeless 95% of the time

  • Simon on November 28, 2010, 22:53 GMT

    Obviously most people in India do not understand the difference between a good pitch and a 'dead' one. I.C.C. directives state that a "good" pitch will have moisture in it on days one to two, assisting fast bowlers. Day three and four should be good for batting, but by day four the pitch should be crumbling, the pace of the pitch should be slowing down and turn should be come a factor. What happened day one and two, may I ask? Wickets tumbled. Day three and four the runs flowed somewhat (but then again Australias bowlers did themselves no favours) Towards the end of the day Marcus North was turing the ball so much, had Harby Singh been in the Aussie team he would have been pitching on off and turning it down the leg side for a wide. The main difference is in Australia six wickets for 590+ came on days three and four, in India's last couple of test series (exc. Australia, who sucked big time) it has been six for 590 off three or four days. WHen that is the score, then it is a dead pitch

  • John on November 28, 2010, 22:29 GMT

    Comments on comments: To Vilander: England beat Pakistan, said to have the best bowling attack in the world at the time, by 3 games to 1, bowled them out for under 100 3 times and had winning margins of 354 runs, 9 wickets and an innings. That is not being 'stretched.' To all Indian fans: I too am looking forward to the SA-Ind series. In particular, I'm looking forward to commenting on it. Since England won the one-day series and drew the test series last year in SA and have won every series in every format since then, India need to do better than that to be seriously considered as the #1 side. Will they? We'll see. Then we'll see how they get on in England next year. To popcorn: c'mon, mate, you can do better than that. 'Never write off the Aussies' sounds too much like desperation. I want to hear how great the Aussies are (I'm serious). To Something_Witty: where are you? Johnson and Hilf need you!

  • Thank You on November 28, 2010, 21:59 GMT

    Just how exactly is this contest reignited? This match is a limp draw anyway way you slice it - except for the first day, this game has been boring. No one and no team has taken any initiative and its been way too defensive. You need players like Sehwag to force the initiative - and none of these teams have players like that. Can we fast forward to Dec 16 already? And cricinfo - please don't sensor my comments just because I represent a viewpoint that doesn't align with yours.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    Good to see England fighting back, I agree with you amitava0112. England will dominate these Ashes. Australia needs a good spinner, Hauritz is not good enough and neither is this new one.

  • No featured comments at the moment.