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Ashes: Symonds-Hayden partnership gives Australia control

Ashes: Symonds-Hayden partnership gives Australia control

Andrew Symonds posted his maiden test hundred and shared a 279-run sixth-wicket stand with Matthew Hayden that prolonged both his test career and England's Ashes woes.
Having already relinquished the Ashes with three straight losses, England had a rare spell of domination Wednesday when the pacemen had Australia reeling at 84 for five on the second morning of the fourth test.
Enter Symonds. His place in doubt and with an average of 18 in 11 previous tests, the 31-year-old allrounder joined Queensland state teammate and long-time fishing friend Hayden.
Australia was 75 runs in arrears of England's first innings 159 when the pair joined and 204 in front when Hayden's seven-hour innings ended, caught behind off Sajid Mahmood.
Mahmood had Adam Gilchrist (1) caught at second slip in his next over and Australia finished 372 for seven at stumps, with Symonds unbeaten on 154 and Shane Warne on four.
The usually freewheeling Symonds took 21 balls to get off the mark and was four from 32 deliveries at lunch.
"I was nervous at the start ... wondering where my first run was going to come from," he said. "But I was seeing the ball well out of the hand."
With Hayden anchoring the innings and making his way steadily to a 27th test hundred, Symonds soon settled into his rhythm.
He lifted his tempo as he checked off the milestones, making his third test half century, then surpassing his previous highest test score, before clobbering Paul Collingwood for a six down the ground to reach triple figures.
Symonds, a fixture of Australia's limited-overs lineup but always a questionable selection in the test team, ran back down the pitch for a mid-air hug with Hayden and a salute to the team.
"I felt like I let a lot of emotion out when I celebrated," Symonds said. "I've done a lot of things with Matty over the years with my cricket and my life and it was very fitting to do it with him _ he was a huge help.
"Scoring 100 with one of my best mates of all time in the 100th test (at the MCG), it's been a fair old week."
His innings contained 16 boundaries and a six from 215 balls.
Hayden plundered two sixes and 11 boundaries, reaching his century with a straight six and another drive to the long-on boundary in consecutive overs from Monty Panesar.
The 35-year-old opener moved level with former skipper Allan Border into fourth on the all-time list of Australian century makers and seventh on the international list headed by India's Sachin Tendulkar (35).
It was only Hayden's second test hundred of the year, having been out three times in the 90s, although it was his fifth in six tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Wednesday started well for England, with the quicks taking three wickets for 36 after Australia resumed at 48 for two.
Andrew Flintoff, who took two wickets on consecutive balls late on the opening day, had Ricky Ponting (7) caught at mid-wicket to start a mini collapse.
Matthew Hoggard bowled Mike Hussey (6) to make the total 79 for four and Steve Harmison had Michael Clarke (5) caught behind on his second ball.
By the end of the day, Flintoff's figures were 3-77 from 22 overs and Mahmood's two late wickets gave him 2-67 from 15.
Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar was unable to reproduce his stunning performance on Ashes debut and had 0-52 from 12 overs.
Whereas Australian legspinner Warne had taken a five-wicket haul on the opening day to become the first bowler to surpass 700 test wickets and skittle the England innings.
"It's been very frustrating. We've created the chances, we've been in the situations to push our advantage home, but unfortunately we just haven't been able to take that," Hoggard said. "They've always had somebody there that's raised their game and took the initiative back to Australia."
Making matters worse for England, one of its bowling plans was leaked to the Australian media and broadcast on national radio. The England team said it was investigating a security breach.
Hoggard remained sure England could ignore the distractions and make a comeback with three days remaining.
"We need to take quick wickets and then bat for a long time," he said. "Hopefully, if we can get enough runs, (the pitch) might go uneven and we'll have a sniff in the fourth innings."


Updated : 2021-02-27 15:38 GMT+08:00