England buoyant after Gabba draw


BRISBANE, November 29 – England head to this week's second Adelaide Test with all the momentum after dominating Australia over the final two days of the Ashes opener which ended in a draw at the Gabba on Monday.
England ensured they would not be beaten in the first match of their Ashes defence after conceding a 221-run innings deficit when Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott shared in England’s highest partnership in Australia of 329 runs.

Cook became only the fourth Englishman to score a Test double-century in Australia with his unconquered 235, while Trott hit 135 not out before skipper Andrew Strauss called a halt at 517 for one, 40 minutes before tea.

Australia tried to avoid further collateral damage in their 26 overs to the close and were 107 for one when the match finished in a draw.

Ricky Ponting scored his 56th Test half-century to be 51 not out and Shane Watson was on 41.

Records and personal bests kept tumbling for England on the anti-climactic last day as Cook and Trott pummelled the Australian bowlers.

Cook joined Wally Hammond (3), Reg Foster and Paul Collingwood as double centurions with his 625-minute epic off 428 balls in the highest score by either team in 19 Ashes Tests at the Gabba.

Their unbroken partnership surpassed the previous highest stand by England in this country of 323 held by Jack Hobbs and Wilfred Rhodes at Melbourne in 1911-1912.

When Trott’s 100 came up it was the first time three English players have scored a century in an innings of a Test match since 1924.

On that occasion the top three batsmen — Jack Hobbs (211), Herbert Sutcliffe (122) and Frank Woolley (134 no) — all scored hundreds against South Africa at Lord’s.

Cook surpassed his previous highest Test score of 173 and also passed Ian Botham’s 138 as the highest English run scorer at the Brisbane ground, set back in 1986.

It was also only the second match in Test match history to feature two 300-plus partnerships following Mike Hussey-Brad Haddin’s 307-run stand in Australia’s first innings 481.

The other was the drawn Pakistan v India first Test in Lahore in 2006.

England landed psychological blows on the Australians as Cook and Trott had frolicked before a small last-day crowd dominated by England’s taunting Barmy Army fans, which made it more like a Test at Lord’s.

More salt was rubbed into Australia’s wounds with two more embarrassing dropped catches, making a total of five for the match.

Vice-captain Michael Clarke put down a regulation chance off Trott (75) at slip off Shane Watson’s bowling and Ponting dropped Cook (222) in the slips.

It only got worse when Simon Katich was caught at first slip by Strauss off Stuart Broad for four in the sixth over of Australia’s second innings.

Australia will have plenty to ponder ahead of Friday’s second Test at the Adelaide Oval after England came away from the Gabba without losing for the first time since the drawn Test in 1998.

Over the course of the five days only 22 wickets fell, and just seven over the last three days on the bat-friendly flat Gabba pitch.