Alastair Cook hit a career-best 235 and Jonathan Trott struck 135 as England set Australia 297 runs for victory on the last day of the series-opening Ashes cricket Test in Brisbane. The home team was 11-1 at the tea break.
Cook and Trott shared a record unbeaten partnership of 329 for England in Australia as the touring team amassed 517-1 in its second innings. Captain Andrew Strauss, who made 110 yesterday, declared to send Australia into bat for 41 overs.
Australian opener Simon Katich lasted 16 balls before edging a Stuart Broad delivery to Strauss in the slips. Shane Watson was yet to score at the break, with home skipper Ricky Ponting on 6 at a ground where Australia last lost in 1988.
With 34 overs remaining, a draw is the most likely result at odds of 1-50, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill, meaning a successful $50 wager would return $1 plus the original stake. England is a 12-1 chance to force a victory in the final session ahead of Australia at 200-1.
England’s top-order batsmen rallied to wrest control of the game away from Australia over the past two days after the home team had built a 221-run lead on the first innings. It’s the first time England’s top three batsmen have made centuries in an Ashes Test.
After putting on 188 runs for the opening wicket with Strauss yesterday, Cook then shared an unbroken partnership with Trott that beat the 323-run stand by Jack Hobbs and Wilfred Rhodes at Melbourne in 1911-12.
Cook beat Ian Botham’s 138 as the highest score by an Englishman at the Brisbane venue and then surpassed his biggest Test score of 173 against Bangladesh in March. He brought up his first double hundred in elite matches with a single to become the fourth English batsmen to score 200 in Australia.
Trott, who had resumed on 54, brought up a century against Australia for the second straight match by hitting a three on the leg side. Trott’s 119 on debut at The Oval in London 15 months ago had helped England win the 2009 Ashes series 2-1.
It’s the first time England’s top three made centuries in a Test since 1924, when Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe and Frank Woolley all reached triple figures against South Africa at Lord’s in London.
Cook and Trott had advanced the score to 370-1 at the morning drinks break after Trott had been dropped by Michael Clarke for the second time in his innings when on 75. Trott also had a life on 34 yesterday.
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