On Day 4 of the first Ashes Test, England began proceedings in a positive frame of mind. Picking up on their overnight score of 19/0, openers Andrew Strauss and Alistain Cook kept the score-board ticking as they shifted the pressure on the shoulders of the Aussie bowlers. Shane Watson and Ben Hilfenhaus were unable to get a breakthrough early on, instead getting hit for fours fairly frequently. The batting pair took England over to 50/0 in 24.5 overs with Strauss running a two off Hilfenhaus.
Strauss who had found a groove got struck into Watson in the 28th over, smacking him for two consecutive boundaries, one cut over the slip cordon, and the other driven through extra cover. Strauss was itching for revenge against the Aussie hero of the match's first innings - Peter Siddle - and got his chance in the 36th over, when he smashed him for two fours to take England over the 100-run mark. Just prior to those shots, Strauss had notched up his 50 as well.
A chance to break the threatening partnership went abegging when Mitchell Johnson dropped Strauss who was on 69, off Xavier Doherty in the 38th over. Strauss capitalised on that stroke of good fortune to press on confidently. Soon after Cook reached his half-century, the batting duo took England into lunch with the score at a healthy 134/0.
Immediately after the lunch, the fours continued to flow quite often off the bats of both openers. But as the afternoon progressed, they became more circumspect and slowed down the scoring rate considerably. In the 55th over, Strauss late-cut Doherty for a boundary to bring up his hundred. It was an innings under severe pressure for not only were England lagging behind in the score, but also Strauss had bagged a duck in the previous innings.
In the 67th over, the brilliant 188-run stand came to an end when the spin of North deceived Strauss to get him stumped for 110. It had been a breath-taking innings, coming off 224 balls and studded with 15 fours.
With the reliable Jonathan Trott as the new man at the crease, Cook had the perfect partner to help him take England's score first past the 200-run mark in the 72nd over and then onto take the lead over Australia, making up the 221 deficit in the process. The next landmark came when Cook reached his hundred with a four off Siddle in the 80th over. The innings had come off 204 balls and studded with 8 fours.
Soon afterward, Australia had the new ball as they must have been entertaining hopes of getting another breakthrough. Straight away, there was some drama when Siddle at fine leg dropped a top-edge from Cook off Hilfenhaus and was unable to stop the ball from running away to the boundary. That tension was dissipated in the next over, when Trott smacked Siddle for a four via a beautiful pull shot. England had moved past the 250-run mark in the 81st over and both batsmen were settling into a comfortable partnership.
Within the next ten overs, Cook and Trott had completed a 100-run stand for the second wicktet and were still going strong. In the 96th over, Trott hit a struggling Johnson for two boundaries to notch up his fifty and England had simultaneously moved over 300. The strong duo batted out the last few overs of the day, taking England to a phenomenal 309/1 at stumps with a lead of 88 over Australia.