When James Anderson took his fourth wicket of the morning to reduce Australia to 189/8 with only five overs of the second new ball gone, England looked well set for another big victory here at the SCG. But a second fifty of the series from Mitchell Johnson and excellent support from Ben Hilfenhaus in a 9th wicket partnership of 76 may have given Australia a way back into the Test. Andrew Strauss hasn't got much wrong in the series, but he set the field back for Johnson too quickly and his continual field changes after every boundary had an element of a follow-the-ball policy. At least for the neutrals, the game is well poised after the one-sided contests in Adelaide and Melbourne.
Colly's last hurrah?
Many expect this to be Paul Collingwood's last test match, but he once again showed that he offers England far more than runs by bowling Mike Hussey with the last delivery before the new ball. In a four-man attack, it is absolutely vital that someone else can bowl a handful of tight overs so give the frontline bowlers some rest. And Collingwood has performed this role well in the series, bowling 31 overs for just 73 runs and is England's best fielder. But can he now do what is required in his main role with the bat to extend his test career beyond Sydney?
Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Virender Sehwag
Andrew Strauss would normally be bracketed in the accumulator rather than master blaster brand of openers, but he was closer to Sehwag than Boycott today in recording his fastest test fifty off just 49 balls. Strauss was helped on his way by the filth served up by Australia's three frontline seamers especially Hilfenhaus, whom Strauss pulled for six over deep square leg. Hilfenhaus got the last laugh though when the England captain missed a straight one, but he will hope his 60 from 58 balls has set the tone for England to build a big 1st innings lead.
Beer loses his fizz
Australia have spent most of the series fighting a losing battle to get Alastair Cook's wicket, so when debutant Michael Beer induced Cook to sky a slog sweep to mid-on with only his 14th ball in test cricket, his arrival in the side suddenly looked akin to a selectorial masterstroke. Beer's celebration went flat immediately though with umpire Billy Bowden calling for the review, which confirmed a no-ball. It may only be Beer's eighth first-class match, but there is no excuse for a spinner overstepping in any form of cricket. Cook, who has now passed 600 runs in the series and is the second youngest man after Tendulkar to reach 5,000 test runs, will be looking to make Beer and Australia pay.
Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be David Hasselhoff
When Shane Warne suggested that Graeme Swann was going to be strutting around like David Hasselhoff prior to the series, he probably didn't expect to be bowling him throwdowns at the SCG. But, sure enough there was the former Baywatch star chewing the fat with Glenn McGrath and trying to hit Warne out of the ground. Perhaps it gave Kevin Pietersen his cue, as that can be the only excuse for getting out hooking Johnson with less than four overs of the day to go. Johnson isn't renowned for his brains, but he has managed to ouwit Collingwood and Ian Bell at Melbourne, and now Pietersen here with ill-judged hook shots.
Player of the day
James Anderson came into this series with many doubting whether he could shine in Australian conditions and with the kookaburra ball. He proved these people wrong straight away in Brisbane without getting the wickets he deserved. But ever since the wickets have come and his four wickets this morning took his tally for the series to 21 - seven more than anyone else. He just shades the honours today from Johnson, whose fifty and two wickets have given Australia a foothold in the match.
Zero of the day
Jonathan Trott batted for 499 minutes and 345 balls for his unbeaten 168 at Melbourne, but he came crashing down to earth with a six ball duck today. As a result his stellar test average dropped by two and a half runs to 61.53 and his average against Australia by over 14 runs to 86.42. Still, it's not as if Trott wasn't due a failure.
What happens next?
A couple of quick wickets for Australia first-up will put them right back into the match and with Collingwood due in next, they will fancy their chances. England will hope that Cook can reach a third hundred of the series as part of getting a 150 run lead. It is all set-up for another fascinating day's cricket.
Day 1 @ Sydney: Rain interrupts war of attrition
If you like this, follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep