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Jonathan Agnew column

Andrew Flintoff (left) and Andrew Strauss
Andrew Flintoff (left) and Andrew Strauss have much to ponder for Friday

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

An excellent, unbeaten second-wicket partnership of 189 between Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich returned the initiative to Australia at the end of a second absorbing day.

This after England thrilled the crowd by showing a refreshingly positive approach to their batting on the second morning. They might have been expected cautiously to eke out every run in their pursuit of the 400 they needed, but they took the attack to the Australians from the very start.

Stuart Broad set the tone with elegant boundaries off Peter Siddle, but he became the second Englishman to be deceived by Mitchell Johnson's slower ball.

Broad could consider himself slightly unlucky in that the ball deflected off his thigh pad, but rather than the tail being mopped up, Graeme Swann reminded us of why he is used as a pinch-hitter at Nottinghamshire.

All hail King Freddie the first

He even played a switch hit as he and James Anderson plundered the Australian bowlers, who conceded 78 runs from the first 11 overs of the day - Hauritz's two overs cost 26, including four byes. With the crowd baying, the onslaught continued as the last three wickets added 99 in 16.5 overs.

Credit, therefore, to Simon Katich and Philip Hughes as they safely negotiated the eight overs before lunch, with Hughes giving us more than just a glimpse of his highly unusual technique, with some crashing blows through the off side.

Were he a tail-ender, you would assume that his movement to leg betrayed a fear of fast bowling and, as Steve Harmison discovered at Worcester, he does not look comfortable against the short ball.

But it was only after the break that England got after him. Inevitably it was Andrew Flintoff who roughed him up from round the wicket in a thrilling contest. Finally the inside edge was found as Hughes wafted once too often and Matt Prior took a really good diving catch. Flintoff 1, Hughes 0.

But England's optimism was carefully and methodically brushed aside by Katich and Ponting. England's spinners did not find the turn and bounce that even Hauritz discovered, albeit erratically, while Broad and Anderson looked ineffective on the slow pitch.

Ponting passed 11,000 runs in Tests, while Katich continued his tremendous form since converting to an opening bat. Both reached their centuries shortly before the close, and clearly England need to separate them as early as possible on the third morning.

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see also
Aussie batsmen dominate England
09 Jul 09 |  England
England v Australia photos day two
09 Jul 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
08 Jul 09 |  England
Ashes Ten to Tackle
08 Jul 09 |  Funny Old Game
The Ashes: head-to-head
04 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket

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