Having batted with real positive intent yesterday, Michael Hussey had to dig in deep for the first hour this morning with James Anderson in particularly producing several unplayable deliveries. The luck that Hussey had on Day Two when his edge off his first ball fell just short of slip continued. First, he was reprieved by the review system when adjudged leg before on 82 to Anderson and then the same bowler had another leg before appeal wrongly turned down when Hussey had added only another three runs to his score. Hussey deservedly cashed in on his good fortune, hitting his 12th and highest test score before just falling short of a double hundred. Mr Cricket is back.
Watchful Haddin gets his reward
Hussey will take most of the plaudits, but Haddin's innings was just as good. He was unusually restrained yesterday and had to hold firm during the first hour today when England did everything but take a wicket. If he had gone then England would likely have mopped up the tail and the match situation could be very different. Haddin, who played some wonderful shots down the ground, reached his hundred in more characteristic style with a straight six off Swann. He may have iron gloves behind the stumps, but he proved his worth as batsman beyond doubt and now averages just under 60 in five Tests against England with two hundreds. Adam who?
England hadn't been so profligate with their two reviews on day two. Their misjudegment cost them dearly when in the midst of an inspired new ball spell from Anderson, Aleem Dar incorrectly refused a stone dead leg before appeal against Hussey on 85. Dar heard two noises but replays showed the ball hit both pads. A wicket then could have changed everything. A rueful Anderson deserved better, but at least he has shown that he is completely different proposition from the hapless figure of the 2006/07 series.
Make mine a triple
In England's last Test, Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad compiled that wonderful 332 run partnership against Pakistan - you know the one before all the spot-fixing furore broke. Hussey and Haddin's 307 run union here meant the shoe was on the other foot for England. It is the 11th highest partnership in Ashes history and the highest partnership for any wicket at The Gabba. The last 300+ run Ashes partnership was the one between Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen at Adelaide in 2006 and we all know what happened after that...
England's notoriously bad record at starting Ashes series looks set to continue after a day of toil in Brisbane. Since winning at the same venue in the 1st Test of the 1986/87 series, England have only won the opening test of an Ashes series once - the false dawn of Edgbaston in 1997. Australia have won eight of the remaining ten with only two draws - the Great Escape of Cardiff, 2009 and Brisbane 1998, where a spectacular thunderstorm saved England from certain defeat. Strauss is probably already perfecting his rain dance after today.
Joint Players of the day
Finn persevered well for his six wickets, but it's Hussey and Haddin all the way here. Hussey saved his career with his test best and Haddin showed the worth of having a keeper who can hit hundreds.
Zero of the day
England weren't great but they weren't awful other than some negative tactics from Strauss and a couple of missed catches from Anderson and Alastair Cook. The real zero was the normally excellent Dar, who as an elite umpire should have seen that Anderson's ball hit both pads rather than pad and bat. But this is probably just a tired and frustrated England supporter clutching at straws.
What happens next?
Having just survived the first ball of the innings from Ben Hilfenhaus and Australia well on top, Strauss will know that he needs to play a resolute captain's knock a la Mike Atherton at Johannesburg in 1995. But Australia must be firm favourites to go 1-0 up.
Brisbane Zero: Martin McCague