The pair needed some significant fortune to survive the new ball, but then prospered in commanding style against a frustrated and tiring England team to build a commanding lead of 176.
Hussey brought up his 12th Test century off 197 balls with a cover drive against Stuart Broad and celebrated with a huge release of raw emotion. It meant consecutive Ashes hundreds after his futile 121 at The Oval in 2009, but this one has given his team a huge advantage and has put to bed any debate about his place in the team. Haddin’s innings was his finest at Test level because of the way he adjusted his game to weather the early barrage before blossoming towards a 222-ball hundred, which he reached with a straight six off Graeme Swann.
As the second session wore on England, who had been outstanding during the first hour of the day, became increasingly ragged. Anderson dropped Haddin on 113 and the ground fielding began to show signs of cracking in the heat – just like the Gabba surface – while the bowlers piled up a huge workload. And England will stew on the fact that they couldn’t have bowled any better during the morning but were denied the vital breakthrough as Anderson produced a wonderful spell.
On 82 Hussey was given lbw by Aleem Dar but instantly called for the review and was correctly reprieved as the ball had pitched outside leg stump. But another shout, with the batsman on 85, was stone dead only for Dar to say not out as he heard two noises – which proved to be both pads – yet England had no reviews left themselves.
Anderson wore a rueful smile, and shared a few words with the batsmen, but continued to have the ball on a string with a succession of unplayable deliveries. The opening 10 overs of the day went for just 13 runs and the first boundary didn’t arrive until Haddin drove Steven Finn straight after 50 minutes play.
That was a signal for Haddin to play a few more shots having had to battle against his natural instincts to repel the early barrage. He late cut Finn through gully then drove Anderson on the rise over mid-off as Australia closed in on England’s 260. Anderson finished an eight over spell at the cost of 14, but it was the perfect example of when statistics don’t even tell half the story.
Australia went into the lead when Haddin thrashed a Finn long hop through the covers then reached fifty with a cover drive and Hussey moved through the 90s when he used his feet against Swann in the offspinner’s opening over. Moments later Hussey had his landmark and the ground went wild with similar ferocity as greeted Peter Siddle’s opening-day hat-trick.
England’s story of near-misses continued when Alastair Cook couldn’t quite back-peddle under a high catch offered by Haddin as he drove aggressively at Paul Collingwood’s first delivery. The importance of Haddin’s innings can’t be overstated because if the lower order had been exposed to the new ball England would have sensed their opportunity.
The pitch was still good for batting, but the widening cracks and hint of occasional balls disturbing the surface emphasised the importance of the lead. After lunch the pair put their foot on England’s throat with dominant batting as the visitors became increasingly forlorn. A problem for Andrew Strauss was that Swann remained below his best and was comfortably picked off by Hussey and Haddin.
They ticked off a host of records including the 276 added by Don Bradman and Lindsay Hassett against England in 1946 as the best stand on the ground, which was brought up with an inside edge past the stumps by Haddin off Anderson, and also into second place for Ashes sixth-wicket partnerships. By then Hussey had already gone to 150 for the second time in his Test career and was playing like the man who dominated world cricket for the two years following his debut with a career-best in sight.