Cow Corner

Hussey the hero again

Cow Corner

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Another Mike Hussey masterclass and a glut of late England wickets has it looking a certainty that the Ashes will be level at Christmas.

Disappointingly, unlike yesterday when superb bowling brought about England's demise, on this occasion, poor shots from the middle order was to blame as they were left sprawling at 81 for five.

A target of 391 on a pitch that isn't a road always seemed a big ask but this England team earned the right to be believed in, especially after South Africa made 414 to win here - admittedly on an easier wicket - in 2008.

England were always going to need a big opening partnership but both left-handers fell to good deliveries and the next three batsmen followed with half-committed shots outside off stump.

KP's dismissal was especially disappointing wafting at a wide delivery immediately after changing bats to give Ben Hilfenhaus his first wicket since the third ball of the series. It was as ill-timed as Warnie's bizarre tweeting about how tough his personal life is at present a short time earlier.

As for Paul Collingwood who looked as unconvincing as he has all series, if he wasn't such a key man in the field Eoin Morgan might be pushing for his place in the last two Tests.

It is difficult to heap enough praise on Hussey. There probably hasn't been an Australian batsman who has carried their side in this manner since Allan Border in the mid-1980s.

With 517 runs so far in this series, he is over 400 ahead of all but two of his team mates and needs just 111 more runs in the last two Tests to have the highest total for any Australian in an Ashes series on home soil not named Donald Bradman (The Don scored 810 in 1936/37 and 680 ten years later).

Shane Watson, who with Brad Haddin is the only other batsman to come out of the series with credit, was just as important before he succumbed in the 90s for the fourth time in his Test career.

After deserving a five-for in the first innings, Chris Tremlett was a little fortunate to get one the second time around but his eight-wicket haul suggests he will be difficult to remove from the England side.

The controversial moment of the day came when Steve Smith was farcically given not out by video referral system after being struck on the pad in front of his stumps because less than half the ball was hitting the stumps despite the fact it might well have knocked the stump out of the ground.

Fortunately, this will only be relevant in the unlikely scenario that England fall within the eight runs that Smith garnered between then and his ultimate dismissal for 36, but it does highlight one of the few limitations of the review system.

Form and momentum count for nothing very much though in recent Ashes, if England fans are looking to, Duncan Fletcher-style, take the positives.

England got an almighty walloping at Headingley in 2009, only to come back and clinch the decider at the Oval in the next Test.

And Australia have proven here that they can rouse themselves from dreadful form too, and no player more so than Hussey.

It will be impossible to look away from the next two Tests.

Man of the day: Mike Hussey. You can probably add series to this as well.

Shot of the day: Hussey's pull off Tremlett for four that brought up his century. "Get in there!" he shouted after notching up his second straight ton against England at his home ground.

Stat of the day: 6 - Incredibly Hussey is the first player to hit six straight scores over 50 in Ashes contests dating back to his century at The Oval in 2009.

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