England's Alastair Cook cuts as Michael Hussey jumps clear on the fourth day of the first Test [GALLO/GETTY]

Openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook dominated the fourth day for England as the tourists reached 309-1 on Sunday at stumps to wipe out England's first innings deficit and bring them right back into the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Starting the day 202 runs behind Australia, England now face the final day leading by 88 with Cook unbeaten on 132 and Jonathan Trott on 54.

Strauss and Cook shared a 188-run opening stand to produce England's best ever partnership at the Gabba in Brisbane before the England captain was dismissed for 110, stumped by Brad Haddin off Marcus North.

Although they could not match the heights of Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin's partnership of 307 that put Australia in charge on the third day, Strauss and Cook's opening stand could end up being just as important at the end of the five-Test series.

Important day

"It was very important that we came back into the game today," said Strauss.

"Yesterday was a very frustrating day for us and some of our batmen needed to score some runs today. Fortunately Alastair and I were able to."

Strauss was removed for a duck in the third ball of the first innings but seized his chance in the second to claim his 19th Test century - his first since his 161 in the Lords Ashes Test last July - soon after lunch.

"It was my fourth Ashes hundred and every one of them is very special," said Strauss.

"I had a bit of luck, it wasn't the best technical innings I've ever played, but in terms of importance it's up there."

Cook had scored more slowly but was given fewer chances than his skipper and clinched his 14th Test century, only his second against Australia, with a cut shot that sent the ball fizzing to the boundary just after tea to add to his first innings 67.

By that stage England's best partnership in a Test at the Gabba had been broken and Strauss was furious with himself after coming down the wicket to occasional spinner Marcus North only to be stumped for 110 by wicketkeeper Haddin.

"It was not the sort of dismissal we were looking for," he said.

"I was very disappointed with myself, both as a batsman and a captain."

Loose shots

Fourth day scorecard

England first innings 260
(I Bell 76, A Cook 67; P Siddle 6-54)
Australia first innings 481
(M Hussey 195, B Haddin 136,
S Katich 50; S. Finn 6-125)
England second innings
(overnight 19-0)

A Strauss st Haddin b North 110
A Cook not out 132
J Trott not out 54
Extras 13
Total (for one wicket, 101 overs) 309
Fall of wicket: 1-188
To bat: K Pietersen, P Collingwood, I Bell, M Prior, S Broad, G Swann, J Anderson, S Finn.

Cook was joined by Trott, who rode his luck a little with some loose shots but helped put on 121 for the second wicket as Australian heads dropped after a long, hard day in the field.

Although England toiled in the field for much of the previous day against centurions Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, their bowlers produced a much better comeback at the end of the day, taking five wickets for 31 runs.

In contrast, Australia's bowling attack failed to make an impact Sunday and, despite overcast conditions, there was no discernible swing.

Strauss said his side would still treat the Australian bowlers with caution.

"We respect all their bowlers and we'll continue to do that,'' he said.

In a day of few opportunities for the Australians, Trott gave a slight chance to Michael Clarke at point off the bowling of Peter Siddle.

Australia's hero in England's first innings, Siddle was also unlucky in the morning session as Cook edged just wide of third slip and later Strauss missed his leg stump from an inside edge.

Strauss was given a reprieve before lunch while on 69 when he hit a Doherty ball to Mitchell Johnson at mid-on, but the chance was dropped.

England scored 260 in the first innings before Australia notched 481 in reply with centuries from Hussey and Haddin.

Play was abandoned early because of bad light and will begin 15 minutes early at 09:45 local time on Monday.

Source: Agencies