Ashes: Hussey’s unbeaten 81 slows England comeback
Michael Hussey hit an unbeaten 81 to rescue Australia’s grip on the first Test on day two in Brisbane.
The England attack fought back in the afternoon session as Australia slumped from 96-1 to 143-5. But Hussey put the pressure of poor form behind him as he and Brad Haddin took Australia to 220-5 at the close as play was halted after a heavy rain shower.
Haddin ended the day 22 not out and was key in aiding Hussey as the pair weathered the English storm after lunch. The pace of James Anderson (2-40) and Steven Finn (2-61) shone in the afternoon however Graeme Swann (1-59) was unable to find a consistent length.
England pushed for their early breakthrough and Alastair Cook nearly gave them a perfect start but he could not capitalise on a mix-up to run out Simon Katich.
Broad and Anderson kept tight lines to the Australia openers and used the short ball well as both were forced to take evasive action.
Umpire Billy Doctrove’s lbw decision was reviewed by Katich and England were denied their first wicket. Their charge was further halted as a review of another lbw appeal against Katich was unsuccessful.
Their patience and tenacity paid off however, as with the very next ball Anderson moved one away from Watson who edged to a grateful Andrew Strauss at first slip for 36.
Ricky Ponting was immediately met with a series of short deliveries and Anderson constantly found his edge. The Australia captain survived a nervy spell, making it to the lunch break unbeaten.
And he had every right to be nervous, as facing the second ball of the afternoon session he tickled a short delivery down the leg side to Matt Prior as Anderson claimed his second wicket.
Michael Clarke then missed his first ball before struggling against the movement the England seamers were producing.
Steven Finn had a quiet morning session but made his mark on the game as he got down well to collect a return catch from Katich straight after he reached his 50.
Clarke continued to struggle against Anderson and was struck on the helmet before once again his problems with the short ball saw to his dismissal. Finn claiming his second wicket as Clarke edged a pull shot through to Prior.
Hussey showed real presence at the crease and dominated Swann, who bowled short for the majority of his afternoon spell.
However, Swann grew into the session and began to find both drift and spin and it was this combination that saw Marcus North helplessly guide an edge to Paul Collingwood at slip.
After the interval Hussey completed his 22nd Test 50 and continued to dominate the short ball after his team mates had faltered against it.
Brad Haddin offered good support to Hussey in an uncharacteristic defensive role, as the pair completed their 50 partnership to take the score past 200 in the final session of the day.
As the light was offered to the Australians, Strauss’ thoughts were obvious, but rain soon followed the dim light to bring a definite end to the day.
England must find a way past this current pair to ensure they remain in touch and keep a first innings deficit to a minimum.