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Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ashes: Cook and Strauss hit tons as England fight back

First Ashes Test, Brisbane:
England 260 & 309-1 v Australia 481 (day four, stumps)

Dates: 25-29 November Final day starts: 2345 GMT Coverage: Listen live to Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK only). Watch live on Sky Sports 1, highlights on ITV 4
Match scorecard

Alastair Cook
Cook was pumped after getting a second century in Australia

By Oliver Brett

Openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook both hit centuries as England fought back superbly on day four of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.

England had resumed 202 runs behind on 19-0 with Australia sensing victory.

But Strauss (110) put on 188 with Cook (132 not out) in an English record stand at Brisbane, and Cook then added 121 with Jonathan Trott (54 not out).

The tourists went to stumps on 309-1 and lead the Aussies by 88 runs, with the draw looking the likely outcome.

Not even in Ricky Ponting's deepest nightmares would he have envisaged his side only managing one wicket in the entire day - but that was precisely what transpired, with Australia hampered by the flat wicket and their own modest bowling attack.

England captain Andrew Strauss
Strauss ended a run of 13 Tests without a century

But they made things harder by spilling catches. Strauss was badly dropped by Mitchell Johnson on 69, Cook gave a much harder opportunity to Peter Siddle at fine leg on 103 and Trott also gave a technical chance to Michael Clarke at point on 34.

Self-preservation, and a potentially grim battle for survival appeared to be the order of the day for England at the start of Sunday's play at the Gabba.

They had been put in their place by a monstrous stand of 307 between Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, and the situation appeared bleak.

Optimists pointed to the fact that the ball Strauss and Cook was facing at the start of the day was 15 overs old and only going to get softer; pessimists looked to the thick cloud cover overhead that promised some lateral movement for the bowlers.

In the end there was no swing or seam, and little encouragement for the spinners either - with the only danger for the batsmen being the cracks in the pitch which, if Australia's bowlers could locate them, might cause the odd ball to misbehave.

Cook looked in a little danger early on, edging Siddle wide of third slip, and then playing an ambitious slog sweep at Xavier Doherty when the debutant spinner came on which was top-edged high into the air before landing between fielders.

Both men were positive, confident enough to hit a series of cut shots and off-drives as Australia looked to locate their outside edges.

With sparse home support, the usual rowdy contingent of England fans were able to make themselves heard as Strauss and Cook dominated proceedings.

They scored quickly, Strauss raising the 100 with a driven four off the first ball of Siddle's second spell some 40 minutes before lunch.

Brad Haddin shows his frustration
It was a very frustrating day for Australia at the Gabba

The next two balls were more problematic for the England captain, an inside edge evading leg stump by millimetres and earning him a fortuitous 10th boundary before a nasty bouncer spat up and hit him on the glove.

Refusing to switch to a more cautious approach, Strauss was soon down the track to Doherty hitting a catch towards mid-off, but Johnson spilled an easy catch and at lunch England were encouragingly positioned on 135-0, with Strauss on 79, Cook on 51.

Strauss's 15th boundary, a late cut off Doherty gave him his 19th Test hundred, to join Sir Len Hutton at equal sixth place in the all-time list of England century-makers.

It also ended a run of 13 Tests without a three-figure score, the last coming in the 2009 Ashes win at Lord's, although he fell soon afterwards to the part-time spin of Marcus North, stumped as he tried to hit an off-break over the bowler's head.

Trott proved an excellent second companion for Cook, however, hitting a lovely cover-drive for four off Johnson to take England into the lead, and the pair of the them were able to raise a 50-run stand off just 70 balls just before tea.

Cook began the the final session needing just two runs to secure his 12th Test century and second on Australian soil, and he got there with yet another cut off Siddle.

Even when the new ball was taken moments later, there was not enough spark or belief from the Australians, and consequently Cook and Trott continued to find life comfortable.

The second 100-run stand of the day was raised when Johnson was mercilessly pulled by Cook for another boundary and when bad light brought a slightly early finish, the Aussies looked relieved to head to the dressing room.

Listen to the day four Test Match Special podcast right here.

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
28 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Strauss still wary despite rally
28 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Strauss & Cook on England's "big day"
28 Nov 10 |  Cricket
First Ashes Test in photos
28 Nov 10 |  England
Hussey and Haddin hammer England
27 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Defiant Hussey frustrates England
26 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Siddle hat-trick shocks England
25 Nov 10 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket

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