Brad Haddin is the No.1 ticketholder in the crusty and cranky old guard of Australian cricket.
Steve Smith is a leading member of the nation’s new guard.
Twelve years apart in age and manner but brought together in common cause at the SCG, they shared at least one fundamental – that attack is the best means of defence – to crunch England in the fifth Test.
Smith’s second century of the series – and third in six Ashes Tests – was the mainstay of Australia’s 326.
But Australia would not have found such a position of strength on a SCG pitch that provided considerable bounce and seam movement without yet another Haddin rearguard action.
The 36-year-old wicketkeeper’s blazing 75 took his team from serious trouble at 5-97 to a position where early wickets today could underwrite Australia’s bid for a 5-0 clean sweep.
Mitchell Johnson then claimed his 32nd wicket of the series when Michael Carberry fended to Nathan Lyon at leg slip for a duck to reward Australia for a canny fielding position and leave England reeling at 1-8.
Nightwatchman James Anderson was peppered for 10 deliveries but survived long enough to protect Alastair Cook who will start on seven today with a large burden on his shoulders.
Haddin has gone past 50 in six of his seven innings this series but the most remarkable feature of his batting has been his capacity to produce half-centuries from positions of adversity in each of Australia’s first innings.
His first-innings scores have been 94, 53, 55, 65 and now 75 to help him challenge speedster Mitchell Johnson as the most influential player in the series.
England’s inability to convert advantage into control has been a constant theme throughout the series.
But their disastrous tour has uncovered a gem in all-rounder Ben Stokes whose six-wicket haul complemented his century at the WACA Ground last month.
Stokes became just the 13th player in Test history to reach three figures and claim six wickets in the same series.
And he could have been part of an even rarer field after just failing to complete a hat-trick in the final over of the Australian innings in which he picked up three wickets and had a catch dropped.
England gave debuts to batsman Gary Ballance, occasional legspinner Scott Borthwick and Irish paceman Boyd Rankin but received little joy from the latter two players.
Rankin broke down with a hamstring injury during his ninth over, returned later for one delivery to test the muscle but then limped off and may not bowl again in the match.
Johnson holed out to Borthwick but the young spinner could barely find a length during seven expensive overs during which he bowled an array of full tosses, including one waist-high gift to Smith that helped him move from 99 to 103.
The one sour note for the Aussies was George Bailey's dismissal for one, which may close the door on his Test career.