Hussey looks to the skies
Michael Hussey has admitted that Australia will have one eye on the heavens come the final day of the second Test at Adelaide, as they resume their second innings on 4 for 238, a deficit of 137 runs. A gutsy day's batting from Australia was undermined by the last ball before stumps when Michael Clarke fenced Kevin Pietersen to short leg, leaving Hussey - and the weather - as their best hopes of escaping with a draw and going to Perth next week with the series all-square.
England declared early on the fourth morning on 5 for 620, meaning Australia began their second innings with a 375-run deficit. For a while it seemed that they might reach the close with seven wickets still intact, when a tropical storm swept through the ground to bring an abrupt halt to the afternoon session. However, the weather cleared almost as quickly as it had arrived, and after a 57-minute delay, the teams were able to get back out onto the field.
Hussey will resume his innings on 44 not out alongside the under-pressure Marcus North, who has yet to face a ball, and he said that another deluge would be very gratefully received. "A little bit of rain would help, that's for sure," Hussey said. "I don't think we can look at the weather too much, we've just got to try and concentrate on batting as much time as we can and hanging in there. We're going to need a bit of luck, the conditions are pretty tough for batting at times, but certainly, a couple of hours of rain would help our cause."
Australia's bid for salvation may also have been aided by a stomach muscle strain that Stuart Broad sustained during the afternoon session. Though he returned to the field after treatment and produced some energetic work on the boundary's edge, he did not bowl in the latter stages of the day, and was earlier seen wearing a brace in the nets and looking very immobile as he went through his motions with the England back-room staff.
Graeme Swann, who is England's likeliest matchwinner on a wicket offering considerable turn out of the footholes, played down the extent of Broad's injury in his typically off-hand manner. "I don't actually know [if he'll be able to bowl]," said Swann. "I assume so because he came back on the field so I assume his time off was just being spent with the medical staff, having his hair done or something."
In Broad's absence, Steven Finn produced one of his best spells since his six-wicket haul at the Gabba, finding a hint of reverse swing with the old ball, and Swann backed him to play a big part on the final day. "Reverse swing is very hard to control and for a young lad to be able to control it like he did, he bowled exceptionally today," said Swann. "He hits good channel, gets good pace, especially at the end of the day, but he's a relatively robust young man so there's no surprise that he can do that."
Hussey, meanwhile, set his sights on another marathon rearguard innings, in a series in which he is emerging as Australia's only reliable batsman. "I'd be lying if I said I loved it, but it's certainly rewarding to come in in a pressure situation and get your team into a position to win the match or save the match," he said. "It gives you a lot of satisfaction. I wish I could come out like Bradman and smash them everywhere, but unfortunately the game doesn't work that.
"We'll have to wait and see [if we can save it]," he added. "We've got a lot of hard work to do before we can think about that, but if we can draw the match, England will see it as a loss so that's got to drive us on. We've certainly been outplayed, no question, but if we can get away with 0-0 it will be a great result for us. But we've got a bit of hard work to do, maybe a bit of luck and hopefully some weather to help us along the way."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.