How England fought back
The Gabba, Brisbane
What a Test match this is turning out to be, and what a series it promises to become.
Sunday might have been the day England capitulated - worn down by the travails of the first three days, 221 runs in arrears on first innings, the Australians clambering all over yet another Gabba win.
But nothing in this gripping contest has gone to the established script. A bowler considered lucky to be selected takes six wickets on his birthday. A batsman horribly out of form and on the point of being dropped smashes 195. A team seemingly teetering on the brink of defeat fights back in such startling fashion that suddenly they are the ones with momentum and mojos working.
Andrew Strauss went from first innings duck to swashbuckling century. Alastair Cook - Ashes average of 26 from 19 innings going into this match - hit an unbeaten 132 to add to his 67 on Thursday.
Between them they put on the biggest English partnership in history at this famous old ground in Brisbane, only the second time in 20 years that both of England's openers have hit centuries in the same Test innings.
When Strauss fell for 110, Jonathan Trott came in and added an unflustered 54 of his own, constructing an unbeaten partnership of 119 in the process. The last time the first two England wickets both put on century partnerships in an Ashes Test? The Adelaide Test in 1986 (Athey and Broad, Broad and Gatting). And we all know who won that series.
How did England's batsmen manage to produce such a remarkable turnaround?
Michael Slater hit seven centuries and averaged 45 as an opener in four successful Ashes campaigns, and he is at the Gabba as an expert summariser for Test Match Special.
"It can be so difficult as an opener in this scenario - sometimes you can feel like you've got more to lose than gain," he says. "The first thing that helped England was the quick turnover between innings that they had (the last five Australian first innings wickets went down for 31). That can be easier than having to think about it for hours; you can just get on with it.
"But the key was the 45 minute session that Strauss and Cook survived on Saturday night. That sort of session really sets you up for the next day. Mentally you've slipped into gear."
As a Test batsman, how do you deal with being mired in such a dangerous situation?
"On the morning before a day like today you need to get yourself in the nets before play starts and have a really good hit. You want to get the bowlers to make it as real as possible, so you're ready to go.
"You then need to go back to the dressing-room and have a little quiet time, just to focus. But you don't want to sit there for too long. Some openers even like to be distracted, so they're not dwelling on the task too much.
"When you walk out to the crease the adrenaline is really going through you. You're often feeling highly emotive, but you make that work for you. Turn that feeling into positive nerves.
"Every sense feels heightened, but I enjoyed that. It made me move my feet much more quickly and get into the right position. You keep talking to yourself too, reminding yourself that all you need to worry about is the single ball you are about to face."
With England so many runs behind at the start of play, and facing a gargantuan eight hours to bat through to make the game safe, many of their supporters around the ground were struggling to see a way out.
"You break those big periods and deficits into smaller blocks," explains Slater. "You might think about getting through four overs, or taking the total from 85 to 100, and then on to 125, or just getting through the spell of a bowler who's really making you struggle.
"Positive intent is very important. You cannot let the fielding side have all the momentum. I always told myself that you have a bat in your hand for one reason, which is to score runs. Put the pressure back on the bowler. England did that very well today."
Throughout both England partnerships, both batsman were in constant conversation, touching gloves after every boundary and driving each other on.
"It can be very intimidating out there - you can feel very alone. That bond between you and bloke at the other end is crucial. It's imperative that you work as a partnership.
"The hardest thing of all is not becoming mentally exhausted. It's a much bigger danger than physical tiredness. Unless you're somewhere like Sri Lanka, you shouldn't struggle on that score.
"It's impossible to concentrate 100% for an entire session, let alone a whole day, so your routine between deliveries becomes critical.
"As soon as the ball is bowled you take a wander, clear your mind, look at something in the crowd - anything to distract yourself. Only when the bowler reaches the back of his run-up do you switch it on again. Then you gradually turn it up as he comes in until you're really full on as he's in his delivery stride."
When Strauss was finally out, skipping down the pitch to the part-time tweak of Marcus North to be stumped by a stride, he was furious with himself - trudging off at the pace of a man towing a sightscreen, clouting his pads with his bat.
While the shot was misjudged, the innings was not. Having been dreadfully close to being lbw to Hilfenhaus to his very first ball of his second innings to begin the series with a pair, he counter-punched magnificently.
In doing so he became the seventh Englishman in Test history to score a duck and a hundred in the same match. He was also the last - following a quacker in Napier three years ago with 177 in the second innings.
With 19 Test centuries, he goes level with Len Hutton in the list of all-time England centurions, one behind Ken Barrington and Graham Gooch and three behind Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott and Wally Hammond.
He has an excellent chance of going on to top the lot. For now, matching Sir Leonard's statistics will do nicely. As England skipper, Sir Leonard won the Ashes home and away.
Cook is setting a few tasty records of his own. Like his fellow left-hander Mike Hussey he came into this match under fire and scrutiny, his technique pulled apart by sages and sofa scrutineers alike.
He will leave it having notched 14 Test centuries before his 26th birthday, more than any other batsman in history except Sachin Tendulkar and Don Bradman ahead. He has already scored more Test runs than both Ted Dexter and Peter May.
If Cook strode off the Gabba outfield the happiest man in the ground, Mitchell Johnson was the most miserable.
On a day when the entire Aussie attack was made to look as penetrating as a custard cutlass, Melancholy Mitchell went wicketless again. His match figures now read 0-119. With the bat he fell for a duck. In the field he missed a run-out chance against Cook and then spilled a straightforward catch off Strauss when the skipper had scored just 69.
Monday will probably bring a draw. Australia shouldn't win from here. England surely can't. But in this see-saw match, who can rule anything out?