Australia took control of the opening Ashes 2010/11 series as Mike Hussey (195) and Brad Haddin (136) produced a fabulous sixth-wicket stand of 307 on the third day at the Gabba.
Australia finished the day having set a first innings total of 481 in reply to England’s lacklustre 260. England had begun their fightback with 19-0 leaving them trailing by 202 runs with a full two days remaining.
For England, their work, at the start of play, was cut out: they had to remove Hussey and Haddin as early as possible. Hussey, known as “Mr Cricket” in this part of the world, had other ideas, though, and set about adding to his overnight score of 81 in partnership with Haddin, who was an excellent side-kick as the pair remained unbeaten until after tea, with the damage done.
Hussey and Haddin’s 307 run partnership was a record sixth wicket stand in any test match at the Gabba.
The pick of England’s bowlers was Steven Finn, who picked up an impressive six wickets on his Ashes debut, albeit at the cost of 125 runs. He collected four wickets in the spell after tea which saw Australia skittled out a little too late.
Finn removed Hussey (caught Cook) before taking the wickets of Johnson (bowled), Doherty (caught Cook) and Siddle (caught Swann) while Graeme Swann, who has had a difficult first couple of days with the ball, accounted for Haddin (caught Collingwood). Once Hussey and Haddin fell, the wickets came, like London buses, in an almost unwelcome convoy – Australia managed just 31 runs between wickets six and ten.
Australia are now poised to win this test match, unless England can bat for a full day or more. Realistically, it looks as though a tropical storm is Australia’s main threat. Early wickets on Sunday could see the match wrapped up with a day in hand.
Whatever the result, it seems there can be only one man of the match: Mike Hussey has timed his return to form with perfection, keeping his batting head while those around him have toiled. He has been the difference between two otherwise quite evenly matched teams. Form, it appears, is still temporary. Mr Cricket retains his class.