England centuries lead promise of a draw

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Hundreds from Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook and a half-century by Jonathan Trott put England on course to escape the Gabba with an unexpected draw against Australia.

Strauss (110) had last managed three figures 25 Test innings ago, against these same opponents at Lord's in July 2009 - while Cook (132 not out) began this tour worryingly short of runs.

By the time bad light brought a premature end England were 309 for one, for a lead off 88, with Trott unbeaten on 54.

From a starting point many deemed verging on the hopeless last night, after Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin's monumental triple-century stand, England's openers returned fire with their own partnership of 188.

The tourists began day four needing realistically to bat for at least the next four sessions to somehow eke out a stalemate, on 19 without loss and facing a first-innings deficit of 221.

Midway through the evening session, after their highest first-wicket stand on this ground, they were back in front on 277 for one - having negotiated 11 overs of the second new ball, on a pitch wearing plenty of cracks but still favouring the batsmen.

Strauss refused to let Australia's bowlers dictate proceedings, running well between the wickets and hitting 15 boundaries from 224 balls.

Cook was a crucial anchor to England's rearguard, having reached his second 50 of the match just before lunch and duly 'converted' straight after tea when he cut Ben Hilfenhaus for only his ninth four from the 204th delivery he faced.