Sir Frank Worrell is without much doubt the most popular overseas captain to tour Australia.
If ever there was a man made for the hard yakka it is Simon Katich. In so many ways, he is the unsung hero of Australian cricket and also another reason why Australia is not even lower than currently ranked. He is the no frills matador at the crease.
There is no ceremonial flourish of the cape. He does not so much prance as does the slow fox trot before the bowler releases. He is a turtle that knows exactly where his off stump is.
He lost his captain soon after lunch and you could sense Katich was steeling himself for more hard labour.
Anderson and Finn were both industrious and bowling tight lines at the body. A deft no nonsense glance brought up Katich’s fifty and once again he was like a good driver. Checking the rear view mirror and adjusting the side mirrors. A final check of the seat position and tug at the seat belt and he was refocussed.
It only takes one ball and all of Katich’s preparations were in vain as he half checked a straight drive and virtually spooned it low to Finn in his follow through.
At 3-100, Hussey walks out to save his career and answer his critics.
An emphatic front full pull off Finn showed the Huss was going to be positive. Next over, the tall white pointer tests out Mr Cricket again and this time he uses the crease and pulls him perfectly like the Punter in his pomp.
Swann comes on at the Vulture end and Huss treats him like a game bird.
A safe loft down the ground and a serious and studied square cut past point would have darkened the off spinner’s shade a touch more. Just for good measure Hussey repeats the dose in Swann’s next over. His 27 has 6 boundaries and Swann has none for 34 in 4 overs.
Broad comes on from the Stanley Street end and Hussey’s square cut is working with the efficiency of Japan’s bullet Trains. These are renowned to run to the second.
Clarke looks distracted and between his mind and his back there are question marks. Is he fully fit? If not he is costing the team dearly. The less said about North’s hopeful forward defense and simple catch to first slip the better.
Haddin came in at 5 for 143 and set about playing, for him, an uncharacteristically subdued innings. Hussey, meanwhile, continued to be positive and watchful at the same time and reached fifty with an assurance that should silence his critics.
I must confess I had reservations, but this man may not be a great cricketer but he certainly is one of the best competitors that Australia has produced. He would have been appreciated at the recent Chilean Miner’s rescue operations.
Steve Finn was used in short bursts and when he came back on after tea Haddin rocked back,rode the bounce and smacked it past forward of point. A shot that showed the wisdom of getting your eye in and spending time at the coalface.
Hussey continued to punish the short ball from Swann and hit him with the stinging cane of a Headmaster through midwicket. Haddin continued to be the dutiful and attentive student.
Hussey had progressed to 76 and 52 of these had come in boundaries. At 5-212 and only 48 behind, Haddin and Hussey looked determined to wrest the advantage for Australia by stumps.
The next hour would be important in the context of the final result.
The mind can play tricks with tired bodies and Strauss was now at his most defensive. One slip, a wide gully, a deep point and a deep square leg as Collingwood started what could only be a holding operation.
This was cat and mouse stuff and the cheese from Colly must have smelt as Hussey turned his nose and back on the offerings.
The rain came down just as the last drinks went off and the period of waiting commenced. Time for both teams to regroup. England will want quick wickets and the new ball is available. Australia were only 40 behind and any lead of over 50 was going to be damaging for England.
These are the knife edges that cricket lives on.
Early start tomorrow and more hard yakka for the Aussie batters. The first hour of the third day will see Hussey resume on 81 and Haddin on 23.
The critics may be convinced, but they are not yet silent.