There are two ways you can approach what could be your last Test match, if your form is in the toilet, your best days are behind you, and you are only in the team by the skin of your teeth and by way of a last-gasp 100 in a Sheffield Shield match.
You can grit your way through it, blocking and nudging, barricading yourself into your crease, crawling slowly towards some semblance of a respectable total while knowing that it is only a matter of time before there will be a ball with your name on it and it will be unplayable.
Or you can say fuck all that, and take the bastards on.
Mike Hussey had some luck, first ball he faced. In fact, he had a lot of luck. Steven Finn, fired up after removing Simon Katich with a sharp caught and bowled taken only inches above the ground – not a bad effort for a bloke who’s 6ft 8 – induced an edge from the nervy left-hander which fell just short of Graeme Swann at second slip.
Hussey himself admits he said a small prayer as he nicked it. It is on moments like this that careers are curtailed, or second chances given.
After that – especially against the bowling of Swann – he played like the last couple of years had never happened. Spurning the very concept of timorous defence as though it were completely beneath him, short deliveries were pulled with an imperious efficiency and his footwork and timing were impeccable as he set about righting an Australian ship that was listing at 100-3 when he came to the crease.
By the time bad light had stopped play, two more wickets had fallen – a woefully out of nick Michael Clarke who is likely suffering with his degenerative disc problem more than his team are letting on, and Marcus North, another under-pressure batsman who got a ball from Swann that was simply too good for him. But, with an able wing-man in Brad Haddin, Hussey is proving to be his side’s backbone.
Resuming on 220-5, Hussey and Haddin will face the new ball and an England who just have the edge in the bowling department in a morning session that could decide the outcome of this Test match.
After struggling on the morning of Day 2 to find their line and length, the England seamers recalibrated their radars during the lunch break and came out firing. Finn’s high action and ability to extract bounce as well as his athletic fielding off his own bowling are signs of an exciting young talent, and Jimmy Anderson’s economy was excellent.
Graeme Swann got some tonk – the Gabba is not a happy hunting ground for off-spinners – but given cracks are starting to appear in the wicket he will come into his own in the fourth innings.
For now, all of England’s focus will be on this partnership of Hussey and Haddin, which must be broken quickly if the visitors are to move into ascendancy.