But the burly batsmen put on a magnificent stand of 279 for the sixth wicket at a rate of more than four runs per over to put the home side well on top after their early scare, with Symonds still there unbeaten on 154 at stumps.

 

England captain Andrew Flintoff was again the catalyst for his team's early fight back when he had opposing captain Ricky Ponting caught out for seven trying an ill-advised pull shot, only to get a big top edge with the ball falling to Alastair Cook.

 

Paceman Matthew Hoggard then got in on the act when he sent down a beautiful delivery to the in-form Michael Hussey, bowling him through the gate for six, before Stephen Harmison had Michael Clarke caught behind for just five to put England on top early.

 

Super centuries save Aussies

 

Symonds then took 21 balls to get off the mark as he and Hayden set about resurrecting the Australian innings, and the two went on to not only help their side pass England’s meagre score, but build an ominous first innings lead.

 

Australia's Symonds, centre, scored a century,
helping build an ominous lead [AFP]

Hayden was eventually dismissed for 153 - his first century of the series, and one that he would have been extremely satisfied with after being dismissed for 92 in the third Test in Perth.

 

The usually aggressive Symonds, in the side due to the injury to fellow all-rounder Shane Watson and the retirement of Damien Martyn, played an extremely controlled innings before bringing up his maiden Test century with a massive straight six off the bowling of Paul Collingwood.

 

As Hayden and Symonds piled on the runs, the tourists seemed bereft of ideas with the ball and in the field, once again feeling the pain of being utterly outplayed for most of the day.

 

Late on, England staged a mini-comeback taking the wickets of Hayden and the dangerous Adam Gilchrist for just one with Sajid Mahmood extracting edges from both batsmen.

 

Playing his last Test at the MCG, Shane Warne will resume at the crease with Symonds on day three as Australia look to build on their big lead with England already facing an uphill battle after just two days play.