Haddin in awe of Anderson and Broad
Australia centurion Brad Haddin hailed James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s opening spells today as “probably the hardest Test bowling I’ve ever had to face”.
Haddin and sixth-wicket partner Mike Hussey somehow survived the controlled aggression of the pace pair, who were armed with the second new ball, first thing this morning.
Having resumed on 220 for five in which they added 77 yesterday, Haddin and Hussey extended that to a Gabba record 307-run partnership to make Australia firm favourites for victory in this opening Ashes Test.
That aided an eventual total of 481 all out, which England replied to with 19 for no wicket by stumps to trail by 202.
Haddin, who began the day on 22 before going on to make 136, revealed just how tough it was to face the tourists’ opening bowlers.
“The first hour and a half was probably the hardest Test bowling I’ve ever had to face,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman, who is playing in his 28th Test.
“It was a pretty conscious effort making sure we got through that unscathed and hoping that at the back end we might be able to get on top of the bowlers and play with a little bit more freedom.
“That first hour and a half was the toughest Test cricket you could get, with Broad and Anderson bowling.”
Hussey, who turned 81 this morning into a Test-best 195, also knew the importance of seeing off the fresh cherry.
“It was pretty much ball by ball focus and we were appreciating they were in the midst of a very, very good spell from both ends,” he said.
“So we just knew we got to get through that new ball and hopefully we would get the rewards later on. I guess that’s why you call it Test cricket; it was pretty tough.”
Hussey successfully reviewed an Anderson lbw appeal in the third over of the day.
“You’re never 100% confident until you get the decision go your way,” he admitted.
“I think the referral that went my way I was reasonably confident. It felt like it had pitched just outside leg stump and I maybe felt the height as well. I was thankful to get away with it.”
He made the most of the reprieve and in doing so followed the advice of his captain, Ricky Ponting.
“That’s been one thing that’s Ricky’s been talking about to the guys; 50s and 60s don’t win Test matches, we’ve got to push on and get big hundreds,” he revealed.
“That’s certainly been the goal of everyone in the team but (we’ve) certainly had a few other motivational forces as well in our side.”
Hussey explained how he and Haddin supported one another to see off the new ball and then build a potentially match-winning lead.
"It was about just trying to keep each other in the moment, and keep playing ball by ball," he said.
"We had a bit of a laugh along the way, and we talked about our battles and struggles and any negative thoughts, and we just tried to focus on playing the next ball as well as we could. I thoroughly enjoyed the partnership.
"As I was walking off, as much as I was disappointed, I thought, I have to soak this in and really enjoy it. There were emotions that went through my body that I'll never forget."
Haddin, who went to three figures with a six off Graeme Swann, also laid bare his feelings.
“I was a bit nervous. I thought about getting out of there as quick as I can,” he said.
He is confident Australia can exploit a good batting surface that is showing gradual signs of deterioration.
“There’s still enough in it for us; the cracks are opening up,” Haddin added. “There’s a few good cracks in some good areas for us.
“We’re under no illusions; it’s going to be tough work, we’re going to have to bowl well and patiently for long periods of time. But I think if we can, we’ll get the rewards and we’ve got a great chance to win.”
Hussey though was mindful of recent Test defeats, including India’s stunning victory at Mohali in October.
"We've been in some fantastic positions in the last year or so (and haven't gone on to win), and it's a challenge for our team. We've got to try to finish the job," he said.
"It's Test cricket, it's not easy, we're going to have to work hard for it, we know that, but it's going to be very special if we can."