AUSTRALIA batsmen Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich both hit centuries as the tourists regained the upper hand on day two of the first Ashes Test in Cardiff.
Captain Ponting (100 not out) recorded his 38th Test century and Katich (104 n.o.) his first Ashes ton to guide the Aussies to 249-1 in reply to England’s 435. England had earlier exceeded expectations by adding 99 for their last three first-innings wickets, Graeme Swann starring with an unbeaten 47 off 40 balls.
But after lunch Ponting and Katich began the fightback in earnest and swung the momentum firmly back in Australia’s favour, as England’s bowlers failed to elicit the swing or spin expected from the conditions.
“We’ve worked hard to get swing, reverse and traditional, and it has done nothing. We don’t know why,” said spin bowler Swann.
“We couldn’t get it to do anything and it is not turning much either. That made it difficult and it is exacerbated when you get two guys batting so well. We talked about getting momentum, how that would help us during the day. We got that momentum but it just didn’t help us much.
“It was a great first session but we couldn’t capitalise, that was disappointing. We had the wind knocked out of our sails a little bit.”
Katich, who featured when England beat Australia in the 2005 series, escaped an lbw shout from Swann on 56 to notch the eight Test century of his career. He said: “I’m just happy to be back in the team. I’ve just tried to cherish each Test match. There is still a lot of work in front of us and there is a long way to go.”
England resumed on 336-7 but their hopes took a knock when all-rounder Stuart Broad departed in the fourth over. Pessimism proved premature, however, as Swann and nightwatchman Anderson shared a 68-run stand. Swann was the star, hitting Nathan Hauritz for three fours in one over, but the partnership was broken when Anderson found Michael Hussey at mid-on off the Aussie spinner, and last man Monty Panesar added just four runs.
Opener Phillip Hughes (36) set an aggressive tone for the reply before Andrew Flintoff claimed his scalp in a hostile post-lunch spell. Katich and Ponting continued to pile on the runs, the latter becoming only the fourth man to surpass 11,000 Test runs and reaching his ton off the penultimate ball of the day.
SCORECARD 1ST TEST
ENGLAND – First innings
J Anderson c Hussey b Hauritz 26
S Broad b Johnson 19
G Swann not out 47
M Panesar c Ponting b Hauritz 4
Extras (12nb 2w 13b 11lb) 38
TOTAL (all out, 106.5 overs) 435
Fall: 21, 67, 90, 228, 241, 327, 329, 355, 423, 435
Bowling: Johnson 22-2-87-3, Hilfenhaus
27-5-77-2, Siddle 27-3-121-2, Hauritz 23.5-1-95-3, M Clarke 5-0-20-0, Katich 2-0-11-0
AUSTRALIA – First innings
P Hughes c Prior b Flintoff 36
S Katich not out 104
R Ponting not out 100
Extras (2nb 1w 6lb) 9
TOTAL (for 1 wkt, 71 overs) 249
Bowling: Anderson 13-1-57-0, Broad
12-1-58-0, Swann 20-7-49-0, Flintoff 15-3-48-1, Panesar 11-2-31-0