FIRST TEST, DAY TWO (STUMPS):
Australia 602-9 dec v England 53-3
England face an uphill struggle to save the first Ashes Test in Brisbane after being reduced to 53-3 at close of play on the second day.
THE DAY'S ACTION (all times local to Brisbane - GMT+10)
"It was all about how England were going to respond to Australia's huge total and, frankly, 53-3 on a pitch that still looks good for batting is not a good response."
Vic Marks, TMS summariser
1731: Three slips, two gullies and a short cover for Bell. Feel the pressure Belly. Bell survives, but England have several mountains to climb tomorrow. Madness, utter madness. I'm off to watch The Jeremy Kyle Show. I'll see you dwindling band of die-hards tomorrow.53-3
1727: Warne's first ball is short and Pietersen hammers it straight back. Warne shies and almost takes KP's head off. Spicy. Pietersen scampers a single and the Aussies surround Bell like vultures waiting for a wounded animal to die. Bell survives however, turning the ball round the corner for a single. One over remaining. 53-3
1723: Pietersen ambles a single from a push into the on-side. The crowd think Langer's spilled one at third slip, but Bell's edge went straight into the floor. It's Warne time ladies and gents and the crowd go wild.51-3
1719: Lee back on to replace McGrath. His injury wasn't as bad as it looked. Lee gets two for a nice-looking drive into the covers to bring up England's 50. Tepid applause from the crowd. 50-3
1714: Bell goes to 10 with a single to square-leg and Pietersen negotiates the rest of the over. 48-3
1710: Feels like it's going to be a wicket every ball now. Pietersen on strike to face his first Test ball in Australia...and he leaves a wide one from McGrath. Pietersen then opens his account with a four to the mid-wicket boundary. Rank long-hop from McGrath. 47-3
1704: WICKET England 42-3 (Collingwood 6)
Collingwood gone now, nibbling Clark to Gilchrist behind the stumps. Let us sit upon the carpet and tell sad stories...Pietersen won't want any of that, he'll be up for it at least.
1703: Bell takes a very risky single and Clarke misses his stumps and gives away an overthrow. He would have made it - just. Not clever from England. Collingwood is then beaten all ends up by Clark. Shadows creeping across the pitch now, making batting that little bit more difficult.
1657: Bell is almost cleaned up by an off-cutter from McGrath. It misses everything and umpire Bowden decides it was too high to be lbw. McGrath washed up? Have a day off. 39-2
1654: Collingwood plays a poor shot, reaching for a drive and the ball flying over the slips for four. The Aussies won't mind that at all. 38-2
"I am fuming - Strauss needs to take a long, hard look at himself. The Aussie new ball attack was not looking penetrative at all. Then Strauss plays a stupid shot and hands Australia a free wicket. McGrath couldn't believe his luck and, with his tail up, he bowled a good ball the very next ball to remove Cook."
D Humphreys from Beford in the TMS inbox
1651: Collingwood off the mark with a nudge into the on-side. Bell opens his account with a glorious drive to the extra-cover boundary. 34-2 1643: Bell is beaten all ends up by Clark, who is on for Lee. And again. This is horrible, just horrible. 28-2
1639: WICKET England 28-2 (Cook 11)
McGrath on a hat-trick, Cook edging a beauty to Warne in the slips. England in disarray. Collingwood to face hat-trick ball, and he gets in safely behind it.
1637: WICKET England 28-1 (Strauss 12)
Cooks stands tall and cuts McGrath away for his first four of the day. Dismissive. Cooks gets a single to mid-wicket next ball. But McGrath makes the breakthrough, Strauss playing a poor pull shot and Hussey taking the catch despite a collision with Lee. Lee is injured - but it's only a stray stud I think. Yes, he's up and looking OK.
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1633: Cook pushes a Lee no-ball into the covers for a couple. England move to 20 and they're one thirtieth of the way there. How long until Warne gets on I wonder? They might give him three or four overs before end of play. The Aussies go berserk for an lbw against Cook but umpire Bucknor is having none of it. Cook picks up three next ball with a drive through the covers. Good temperament. 23-0
1628: McGrath drifts down the leg-side and Strauss clips him away for four. When Pigeon strays, you better make hay. So says the age-old adage that I just made up. 17-0
1624: Strauss gets England's first four, skewing a drive away to backward point. Sketchy. Strauss turns Lee round the corner and collects a single. Cook to face Lee for the first time and, rather predictably, gets a bouncer which he plays very well, keeping his eye on it and leaning back. 13-0
1619: It's Pigeon McGrath to Cook and the Essex man gets an inside edge into the on-side. Cook gets off the mark with a push into the covers. My commentary won't be so chirpy from now on, the old ticker's thumping a bit. McGrath around about the 80mph mark at the moment and he beats Strauss with one that pitches and leaves him. Strauss forces McGrath through the covers for three to open his account. 8-0
1615: Lee's first ball is a couple of feet outside Strauss' off-stump and the Middlesex man lets it go. Lee's second ball arcs down leg-side, beats Gilchrist and runs away for four. England off the mark. Lee consistently over 90mph and has already bowled the two quickest balls of the match. Strauss drives and Hayden, hands like buckets, fields superbly in the gully. Lee up to 94mph, but Strauss survives the opening over. 4-0
1610: Players are out and Jerusalem resounds around the Gabba. Everything crossed ladies and gents.
1607: What will be going through young Cook's head right now? Got a ton on debut against India of course and two more since, so he's made of stern stuff. England have an hour and 20 minutes to stumps.
1600: McGrath drives Harmison through mid-off for three before rocking back and guiding the ball to the third man boundary to bring up the 600. Lee moves to 43 with a crisply-struck off-drive for two before Ponting declares on 602-9. England's batsmen now have just short of an hour and a half to survive before stumps. Flintoff finished with figures of 3-99, the pick of the bunch by a mile. 602-9 dec
1557: Lee just manages to get the toe of his bat on an attempted yorker by Flintoff and gets two. Lee is then struck on the back of the bat again as he tries to twist out of the way of a short one. 592-9
1552: McGrath, a la Viv Richards, steps outside off-stump and swings the ball away for a single. 588-9
1548: Lee arches his back and jabs Flintoff down to third man, where Cook fields. Harmison fields at mid-off from McGrath, has a shot at the stumps, misses and Australia get an overthrow. 587-9
1543: McGrath off the mark with a dab into the on-side. Lee bottom-edges Harmison for four through the slip cordon. 584-9
1535: WICKET Australia 578-9 (Clark 39)
Flintoff does for Clark, cleaning him up with a spearing yorker. McGrath is jeered and cheered to the middle in equal measure. Important innings that by Clark. Flintoff is looking for only his third five-wicket haul in Tests, a surprising morsel, I'm sure you'll agree. He hits McGrath on the left bicep with one but 'Pigeon' lasts the over. 578-9
1534: Clark top-edges Harmison and Cook, out at mid-wicket, shells a catch he should have pouched. All of a sudden I'm very depressed again. The Aussie fans, like Romans who have just witnessed some poor slave ripped apart by a couple of bears, roar their approval. Anyone got any hymns? Think I need to start singing some to keep the spirits up. 578-8
1528: Clark hoiks Flintoff to the square-leg boundary and he and Lee share a laugh in the middle. It's all hit and giggle for the hosts at the moment. McGrath's padded up in the stand, cracking up like he's at Billy Smart's Circus...I think I'm going to be sick. Lee nearly plays on, but doesn't. The Aussies are soooo lucky...and I'm getting very bitter and twisted. 571-8
1524: Harmison scythes through Lee and goes up for a caught-behind, but umpire Bucknor is having none of it. The Durham man puts Lee on his backside with a bumper - the Aussie paceman isn't a big fan of chin music one suspects. Another maiden from Harmison as he staves off the century - 1-99 so far. 564-8
1517: Clark hits Anderson for two consecutive sixes, the first over the mid-wicket boundary, the second straight over long-on. This isn't what England had in mind. Clark gets another two to square-leg and picks up a single to move to 29. Sixteen from the over. 564-8
1514: Maiden from Harmison, keeping it straight to Lee. 548-8
1509: Lee rocks back and cuts Anderson to the backward point boundary. Clark whips Anderson away and runs are coming far too easily for these Aussie tailenders. News reaches me that the Barmy Army's 'official trumpeter' has been ejected from the Gabba. What a shame - I love spending loads of cash to watch the cricket and having some clown playing a really loud brass instrument in my vicinity all day. 548-8
1505: Clark plays uppishly at Harmison and the ball spoons over the cover fieldsmen. Harmison strays on to Clark's pads and is flicked away for four. 539-8
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"I'm following on-line in Thailand whilst teaching English to the locals. We had a military coup here recently. This is far more worrying as far as my general health and well-being is concerned!"
Phil Cliffe in the TMS inbox
1500: Clark is the next batsman and he flails Anderson through the covers for four first ball. 532-8
1440: WICKET Australia 528-8 (Clarke 56)
Anderson drops short and Clarke slams him to the deep mid-wicket fence. Brutal shot. However, he perishes next ball, edging to Strauss in the slips. The players take an early tea but England will be pleased with that session, they've turned up at the party - with a four-pack of Skol and some ready salted Pringles - but turned up at the party nonetheless.
1436: Lee plays and misses at one and then gets just about the most remarkable boundary you'll ever see, ducking under a Flintoff bouncer and the ball ricocheting down to the fine-leg fence. Lee is having all the luck at the moment, driving at one and the ball just clearing Collingwood at first slip. 524-7
1432: Lee piles into a drive off Anderson and Cook makes a fine stop in the covers. Haven't seen much of the Essex opener so far in this match, but we'll need to see a lot more of him if England are going to ride this out. 515-7
1427: Clarke becomes the fourth Aussie to pass fifty. He looked shaky at the start but has slowly solidified. Lee attempts to upper-cut Flintoff over the slips and gets one for a pretty unconvincing shot. 513-7
1423: Clarke thinks he's got his fifty, but it's called a leg-bye. Lee on strike to Harmison and he plays a doozy of a backfoot drive and runs four. 510-7
"Thank goodness they have started to get more wickets. I am the only Englishman working in an Australian call centre. The grief I have been getting for the last two days has been unbearable."
Nigel Stapleton in the TMS inbox
1417: Another probing over from Flintoff, just three from it. The Barmy Army have found their voice at last. They're singing that marvellous old refrain: "Barmy Army, Barmy Army" over and over again. Genius. 505-7
"I always preferred it when the tailenders didn't wear helmets. There was none of this pulling or hooking because they could see the hospital in the corner of their eye." Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser
1410: WICKET Australia 500-7 (Warne 17)
HARMISON'S TAKEN A RUDDY WICKET!!! Warne tries another pull shot and gloves one to Jones behind the stumps. Warne doesn't look too chuffed, but umpire Bowden was in no doubt. Harmison puts new batsman Lee on his jacksie with a heat-seeking bumper. That was like the old days.
1409: Warne tickles Flintoff round the corner and the 500 comes up. Flintoff beats an airy waft by Clarke with the final ball of the over. 500-6
1404: Warne carves Harmison away for four and then paddles him to deep mid-wicket for a couple. Not clever bowling that by Harmison. Harmison bounces Clarke last up and the batsman just manages to help it round the corner for one. 498-6
1357: Hoggard's off. His last spell brought figures of eight overs 2-14. Flintoff brings himself back into the attack. No doubt he'll want to give Warne a fright or two. Clarke plays early at one and chips it over Flintoff's head - Freddie almost got a hand to that one. Not sure about you lot, but I'm a bit more upbeat. I can take the matchsticks out now. 490-6
"If I were Flintoff I'd be saying to Harmison, 'go on, stick one into Warne's ribs, give him a bit of a tickle-up..."
Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser
1355: Bit more rhythm about Harmison now. Warne attempts a pull shot and is sliced in two - it looks like he's never picked up a bat in his life at the moment. Better Stevo, better. 486-6
1351: Clarke gets a sketchy outside edge over gully for four. Odd shot for someone playing for his place. More tight stuff from Hoggard. 481-6
1343: Harmison's on and there are a couple of pundits suggesting he's getting a bit of reverse swing. Harmison shows a bit of spunk, collecting a Clarke drive and throwing down the stumps. Jeff Thomson quips that it's the only time he's hit the timbers this innings. Warne plays and misses by about two feet. He looks in rancid nick, although he does play a nice glide down to third man for a couple. Better from Harmison as players take drinks. 476-6
1337: Warney spoons one to mid-off and Anderson, lunging for the ball, spills one he should have swallowed. Hoggard keeps his pecker up and has Warne all at sea with three that pitch and beat his outside edge. Beautifully-bowled by Hoggard, who has suddenly stamped himself on this match. 473-6
1333: Warney gets off the mark with nice looking on-drive off Giles. They might want to get Harmison on to give Warney a bit of chin music.471-6
1328: WICKET Australia 467-6 (Gilchrist 0)
Gilchrist continues to be England's puppy, trapped in front by a Hoggard inswinger. Double-wicket maiden from Hoggard and 600 seems a long way off now for the Aussies, although we all know Warney and Lee can give it some hammer with the bat. Rumblings from the Barmy Army at long last.
1323: WICKET Australia 467-5 (Ponting 196)
Ponting falls at last! Hoggard traps him plumb in front and I feel like I did when I saw Iraqis pulling down the statue of Saddam in Bagdhad. Hoggy deserved that, he's toiled manfully. Gilchrist, England's puppy in the last Ashes series, is next man in.
1320: Gilo is bowling well but still getting milked like a faithful old cow. One lovely shot by Ponting, paddling Giles round the corner for a couple. Ponting is 196 and a boundary away from his 200. 467-4
1317: Another maiden from Hoggard and it's been a tidy spell so far, five overs for seven runs. 461-4
1311: Ponting tip-toes down the pitch and guides the ball to the deep mid-wicket boundary and follows up with a dismissive slap over extra-cover for another boundary. Ponting certainly not getting the old squeeky bum with 200 approaching.461-4
1308: Hoggard continues to toil like the carthorse he is and there's just a single from the over. Australia now 450 and Ponting will have his eye on 600. 450-4
1303: Clarke is going after Giles and punches him over mid-off for four. I may live to regret saying that Clarke looked in bad nick. 449-4
1300: Ponting is now chasing down Keith Stackpole's highest score for Australia against England at the Gabba - 207 in 1970/71. Maiden over from Hoggard and England have at least slowed the run-rate. 443-4
1255: Clarke walks down the pitch to Giles and thumps him over long-on for the first six of the match. Giles then has two lbw appeals shrugged aside by umpire Bowden. Never going to give those. 443-4
"Hoggard is bowling OK but not getting anyone out because there's no sideways movement. And that'a almost as worrying as when you're not bowling well."
Vic Marks, TMS summariser
1252: Hoggard strays and Ponting, with all the time in the world, turns him away for four. Ponting gets squared up by Hoggard but it's a struggle for the Yorkshireman. 437-4
1246: Clarke makes room and cuts Giles away for four. Decent shot, but he doesn't look in tip-top nick to me. He'll probably go and score a brisk century. 433-4
1244: Players are out after lunch and Ponting will resume on 177 and Clarke on 10. Hoggard to bowl first from the Stanley Street End. Hoggard tests Clarke out with a short one and the batsman jerks underneath it. Good news for Harmison - apparently Frank Tyson took 1-160 against the Aussies in an innings defeat in Brisbane in 1954-55 before taking 10 wickets in Sydney and nine in Melbourne. Hoggard beats Clarke's outside edge and there's just two from the over. 429-4
"I've been keeping myself awake by inventing a concoction of hot chocolate and copious amounts of coffee, with some milk, sugar and a little honey to even it out. Anyone else have any better suggestions?"
James Hamilton in the TMS inbox
"It wasn't the worst session by England. They would have liked to take a couple more wickets, but of all the Test pitches I've seen, I'd be queuing up to bat on this one, it's about as flat as they come. And that's why I'd be saying to the England team, 'all's not lost'."
Geoffrey Boycott, TMS summariser
1159: Gilo's on before lunch. He has a big lbw appeal turned down by umpire Bowden - the ball looked to hit Ponting's bat. Three from the over and players go off for triangular sandwiches, plain crisps, Mr Kipling cakes and some Tango. I'm off for a toasted sandwich. 427-4
"When did this series become Australia v Freddie Flintoff? Because I presume he will bat like a hero again as well..."
Scott Warner from Nottingham in the TMS inbox
1155: Graham Gooch's great line about batting against Richard Hadlee and New Zealand seems appropriate at the moment: "It was like having the World XI at one end and Ilford seconds at the other..." Anderson's actually doing alright this over and has Ponting hurrying a little a couple of times. Just a single from it. 424-4
1151: Harmison's loses his line again and places another wide three feet outside Ponting's off-stump. Weirdly he's not giving up many runs because none of the batsmen can reach any of his deliveries. Patchy. 423-4
1147: Clarke with a drive and Harmison, like a baby giraffe on skates, fields at extra-cover. A maiden over from Flintoff and he now has figures of 3-64. 421-4
1144: Ponting is seeing the ball like a Queensland mango and paddles Harmison away to the point boundary for three as if he's playing tip and run with his boy on Southend beach. Better though from Harmison. 421-4
1138: Clarke edges Flintoff for four and gets another thickish edge for a single. Clarke looks tentative, but there's seven from the over. 417-4
1132: Two from Hoggard's over and Clarke is off the mark with a single. Flintoff will fancy having a crack at Clarke, he hasn't been in the best of nick recently. 410-4
1128: WICKET Australia 407-4 (Hussey 86)
Flintoff to the rescue again. He produces a crackerjack delivery that nips back and rips out Hussey's off-stump. Clarke is next man in, and he's under a bit of pressure. England go up for a big appeal first ball, but umpire Bucknor adjudges there was no inside edge. Flintoff, dander well and truly up now, then serves up a bumper which has Clarke ducking. Huge applause at the end of the over, much of it from the Aussie fans I suspect.
1123: Another four from Hussey off Hoggard to deep mid-wicket. The prolific former Northants and Durham batsman moves to within 14 runs of his ton. 406-3
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1118: Dreamy stroke from Ponting, just arching his bat and lacing the ball to the boundary. Flintoff then digs out a swine of a ball which launches off a length and almost finds Ponting's glove. Stares from Flintoff, but replays show it wasn't out. Punter then has a swat outside off-stump and is beaten. Good contest between the two skippers. Shame about everyone else. 402-3
1114: Ponting opens the face and glides the ball away for four. A peachy little shot that. He posts the 200 partnership with a nudge into the off-side. That's the highest fourth wicket partnership for Australia against England in Australia. 398-3
"I suspect Curtly Ambrose would have been a handful on this, as would Harmison in his pomp. Unfortunately, playing in front of 30,000 people with Ponting looking to hit you all over the place is not the best way to regain form."
Jonathan Agnew, TMS commentator
1109: Right, Freddie's had enough of this, he's going to have a go. Hussey grabs a couple of good, scampered runs and Ponting nicks a single. 393-3
"All Steve Harmison needs is a big cuddle..."
Will Fitch in the TMS inbox (I'm ashamed to say I know him)
1100: The Aussie batsmen still look like they could play Hoggard slouched in front of the stumps in an armchair, smoking a pipe with their feet up on a pouf. Come on Freddie, it's up to you again son. Drinks. 389-3
1055: Sky have just been showing some good footage of Harmison bowling in the West Indies a couple of years ago as compared to yesterday (not a patch on TMS' coverage by the way...). It's clear he's faling over and his arm's not totally perpendicular. Someone must be telling him that, mustn't they? Five from his over. 387-3
1053: Majestic cover-drive from Hussey off Anderson. He's not planning on going anywhere. 382-3
1044: Ponting brings up his 150 with a cover-drive for three. The Aussie skip plays and misses at one that pitches and leaves him. Liquorice allsorts from the big man. He drops short and Ponting, eyes like saucers, hooks him for four. How do you solve a problem like Harmy? Don't get him in a room with Boycott, he'll end up in tears. 380-3
1041: A maiden over from Anderson, but, as Geoffrey Boycott is pointing out on TMS, he's not making Ponting play at anything. 372-3
"It would be have interesting to hear what dear old Fred Trueman would have said if he'd been hear watching Harmison..."
Henry Blofeld, TMS commentator
"Jonesy needs a Superman cape behind the stumps. They might have to call for the sub keeper before the day's out..."
Former Aussie fast bowler Jeff Thomson on TMS
1039: Harmison's having a go from round the wicket to Hussey and sends another down leg which has Jones scampering. He then swings one three feet outside Ponting's off-stump. There will be a lot of English folk watching this through their fingers at the moment. 371-3
1034: Glorious straight drive from Ponting off Anderson for his first four of the day. That's Australia's best fourth wicket stand at the Gabba - 171. 369-3
1029: Oh my giddy Aunt, Harmison's first ball is a wide outside off-stump. His third, however, almost finds Ponting's edge. This must be like Russian roulette for the Aussie batsmen. Harmison then sends down another wide outside off-stump, to cheers from the Gabba crowd. The Durham man's last delivery is way down leg and Jones just gets a glove to it. I haven't seen anything this painful since Eric Bristow succumbed to dartitis on stage at the Swedish Open in 1987. Tragic. 365-3
1025: One glorious off-drive from Hussey, but Anderson will be happy he's tempting him forward. Is that Harmy is spy limbering up? Start blowing on those hands Freddie... 362-3
1020: Just two from Hoggy's over, still no swing. And when Hoggard's not swinging it, he looks very ordinary indeed.358-3
1016: Another tight over from Anderson, Hussey's showing him some respect. James Brooks has just emailed to say that Hussey is batting "like a Liberal Democrat". Remarkable. 356-3
1011: Three from Hoggard's over, but he's not getting as much movement as Anderson. Lot more humid in Brisbane today. 353-3
"Ricky's a great player, but he's not as good as Greg Chappell."
Former Australia fast bowler Jeff Thomson on Steve Waugh's claims that Ponting is Australia's best batsman since Bradman
1007: Anderson to partner Hoggard, not Harmison. Groan. Anderson almost gets Hussey with a bit of inswing, but umpire Bowden is having none of a confident lbw appeal. Anderson is moving it about - encouraging signs for England. A good, on the button over from the Lancashire seamer, asking questions at last. 350-3
1002: Brisbane's Courier Mail went with the headline 'Shoddyline' last night. What a liberty, funny though. Hoggard has first go with the ball and Ponting plays a rock-solid forward defensive. The first run of the day is a leg-bye and Hussey brings up the 150 partnership with a nicely-timed cover-drive for three. 347-3
0956: The England players fall out of their huddle and Ponting and Hussey bounce their way to the middle, swirling their bats and peering up into the crowd like a couple of gladiators entering the Coliseum.
"I'd say to Steve Harmison, you've got to run in and get us three wickets. We need a magical hour."
Former England legend Ian Botham
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"I've just been with the England boys and they're amazed at how fast the pitch has cracked. There will be more spin as the game goes on. Pietersen was spinning the ball off the pitch, so Warne will get prodigious spin out of the cracks..."
Former England captain Nasser Hussain
0935: I may be a Catholic, but I'm a rubbish one. But this morning, after finally staggering to bed, I clapped my hands together under the duvet and prayed to the Big Man. I didn't ask much but said, Lord, please give Harmy his mojo back, please let Hoggy swing the ball just a touch, please see that McGrath and Warne play a bit of touch rugby in the outfield during the tea interval. Just sort that out for me, and I'll get myself over to Africa next summer and knock up a couple of schools and a hospital. Amen.