Catch of the day
Fishing mates gut Poms with 279-run partnership
FISHING and hunting buddies Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden can put the heads of 11 England cricketers on the trophy wall after their centuries put Australia in control of the fourth Ashes Test yesterday.
The two macho men punished England with a 279-run partnership on day two at the MCG which drove the home side to 7-372, a lead of 213, and put a fourth win this series in Australia’s sights.
Symonds (154 not out) demolished any doubts over his ability at the highest level with a maiden century of maturity and brutal strokeplay, having joined Hayden with Australia wobbling at 5-84 before lunch.
Hayden resumed his fondness for Australian cricket’s biggest event, as his 153 was his fifth century in six Boxing Day Tests and his 27th overall, equal with Allan Border.
There are only six players in front of him on the all-time century-makers’ list.
Symonds and Hayden share a love of fishing, hunt- ing, camping and pink batting grips — based on a charity fundraiser.
They now s h a r e t h e second-highest sixth-wicket stand in an Ashes Test, behind only the 346 Jack Fingleton and Sir Donald Bradman put on 70 years ago.
England fought back in the first session after being rolled for 159 on Tuesday but captain Andrew Flintoff was powerless to stop the two Queenslanders putting Australia in command.
Symonds had not sealed his place as Australia’s allrounder when he started his 12th Test and was again plagued by nerves. He only got off the mark on the 21st delivery he faced.
He built his confidence through some sweet timing and when the moment came, on 96, he smashed a six straight down the ground off Paul Collingwood to crown his greatest cricketing moment.
‘‘I was thinking ‘should I do this in ones, or, if he slips one up there, should I give it some Larry Dooley (a former boxer)?’,’’ he said. ‘‘I decided if he slips one up there I’d give it some Larry Dooley.’’
Symonds did not even know the shot went for six.
He was too busy celebrating. He screamed in delight and then threw himself into the arms of Hayden.
‘‘I have done a lot of things with Matty over the years with my cricket and with my life and for me it was very fitting to do it with him,’’ Symonds said.
‘‘He was like a pillar of strength for me. He reined me in when I was going too hard or when I was losing focus. He was a huge help for me today.’’
Hayden’s acknowledgement of his own century to another huge crowd of 75,770 was restrained by comparison.
He said he held himself back so he could rejoice with Symonds and described the moment as one of the best of his career.
‘‘From fishing to camping to hunting to Test match hundreds in Melbourne’s 100th Test match — it was an incredible day,’’ said Hayden, who celebrated reaching 150 like he normally would a ton.
The Hayden-Symonds run-fest was also a huge money-spinner for charity.
The more runs the pair scored, the more their bat sponsor gave to the Australian Breast Cancer Foundation. Both used pink bat grips to raise awareness for the foundation.
‘‘I’m happy to use pink grips for the rest of my life,’’ Symonds said.
BREAKTHROUGH INNINGS . . . Andrew Symonds screams in delight after bringing up his maiden Test century at the MCG yesterday. Symonds shared a 279-run partnership with Matthew Hayden to leave England on the ropes.