Hurried Hussey up for challenge
Mike Hussey was astonished to find himself in the middle at the Adelaide Oval so soon today but relished battling to give Australia a respectable first-innings total.
Whether their 245 all out, of which Hussey contributed 93, will be enough remains to be seen on a ground where scores double that are the norm in Test cricket.
The hosts’ seemingly below-par total still represented something of a recovery from the depths of two for three, which brought Hussey to the crease in the third over - barely 10 minutes into the game.
“I wasn’t expecting to be in so early,” he admitted. “It was a pretty amazing start.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever come out at three for two before, particularly in a Test match, but I enjoyed the contest.
“It was good fun, it was hard work and I think, if we bowl well tomorrow we’re still in with a great chance.”
When Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat, Hussey could have been forgiven for sitting back to watch Australia’s top four make the most of a traditionally lifeless surface.
Instead he almost immediately found himself scrambling to get padded up.
"I was just rushing to get my gear ready really," he remembered. "It was all happening very quickly. I couldn't really believe it, to be honest.
"Before I blinked, I was out there in the middle. But I must admit I really enjoyed the contest."
Hussey found himself up against an inspired James Anderson, who had forced Ponting and Michael Clarke into edging to second slip.
The left-hander enjoyed some early fortune when Anderson could not hold a low return catch, but managed to see off the new ball.
“It did enough with the new ball - there was a little bit of moisture to start things off - but I think it’s a very good batting pitch,” Hussey reflected.
“It’s Test match cricket; they made it hard for us to score in certain periods, especially as the ball got softer and there was a little bit of reverse swing as well.
“So there’s enough there for us if we’re willing to do the hard work, which I know we are, to work with.”
Hussey later renewed his dual with former Northamptonshire team-mate Graeme Swann, one he dominated at Brisbane en route to 195.
He recognised, though, that the first-day pitch here offered minimal assistance to the off-spinner.
“There wasn’t a lot of spin there for him for most of the day,” Hussey observed.
“As the ball got a little bit softer it probably encouraged a bit more spin, so that made it a little bit harder.
“But probably there wasn’t much in his favour for most of the day.”
Hussey, who played alongside Swann at Northants from 2001 to 2003, does not believe that gives him an advantage over the bowler.
“I don’t think it matters at all really. It’s about today, it’s about this Test match, it’s about this particular contest,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what has gone on in the past.
“I have faced him a lot in Test cricket and international cricket, but I’ve also faced him a lot in the nets at Wantage Road.”
Although Hussey had the better of Swann for most of the day, the bowler landed a decisive blow when he located the batsman’s outside edge and Paul Collingwood held on at slip.
“I was very disappointed to get out in the 90s,” Hussey revealed. “I felt like I worked pretty hard for most of the day.
“It would have been nice to cap it off with a century, but not to be. But I think there’s enough variable bounce in that pitch for us to work with if we bowl well tomorrow.”
England will resume on one without loss, their openers having survived a single over today from Ryan Harris.
Hussey summed up Australia’s likely approach on day two.
“I think we’re going to have to try to attack with the new ball,” he said.
“It would be great to pick up a couple of early wickets with the new cherry, but after that I think it’s going to be a case of war of attrition really; we’re going to have to be really patient, really disciplined.
“Hopefully as the ball gets softer there can be a little bit of variable bounce and maybe some reverse swing.”
Having seen the tourists recover from a below part first-innings score at Brisbane, Hussey is confident Australia can do the same.
"We'd obviously have liked plenty more but we're right in the contest,” he insisted.
“It's going to be a big day tomorrow; we’re going to have to play well.
“England showed they can fight back from being bowled out for 260-odd at the Gabba and we're going to have to show similar resolve.”