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Australia Behind the Eight Ball - Day 3 - 5th Ashes Test

Ashes Cricket News 04/01/03

Report By Jon Cocks

England’s Barmy Army could be heard again on Day Three, as England reeled with the blow of conceding the narrowest possible first innings deficit, thanks to a run-a-ball Adam Gilchrist century. Eventually, however, the tourists reclaimed ascendancy in the match with a fighting second innings showing – led by an unconquered Michael Vaughan century - that put them in poll position to press for victory.

The third morning began with an almighty ovation for Steve Waugh, who was promptly dismissed without adding to his overnight 102. The wicket had been rolled, the bowler - Hoggard - was fresh and the day was humid and overcast, aiding his outswing.

Waugh tried to crack the fourth ball of the day over point and edged it to Butcher at second slip. The wicket fell at 241, ending a 91-run liaison with Gilchrist, who proceeded to dominate the rest of the pre-lunch session in his own inimitable fashion, as Australia added 3-99.

Again, the England bowlers, especially Caddick (23-3-121-3), allowed too much width. The dynamic batsman -keeper cut Caddick to the backward point rope to bring up his 50 in even time and cut loose against all the seamers in turn, cutting and pulling anything even remotely short and driving on the rise.

Hoggard (21-4-89-3) plugged away manfully and at least troubled Bichel with movement in the air and off the wicket, unlucky not to get the decision when Bichel (4) appeared to glove one down the leg side to Stewart. However, it wasn't long before Bichel sliced Hoggard to Crawley in the gully, who held a sharp chance high to his left, the wicket falling at 267.

Brett Lee came in and pushed down the line, edging to Stewart and Hoggard was on a hat-trick. Gillespie played at the next ball as Lee did but missed it by a centimetre. Australia had lost 3-30 and - as Richie Benaud put it on Nine - this morning was 'all about the winning, the losing or the saving of the match.' As events would unfold, the same could be said of the remaining two sessions of Day Three.

Undeterred, Gilchrist took twelve from the next Caddick over, pushing twice through the defensive ring for two, and taking fours from splendid drive through cover and a deft glance to fine leg. Gillespie began to settle into his supporting role, solidly in behind most deliveries.

Cat played mouse, as Hussain brought the field in for Gillespie, as Harmison came into the attack and hit the tall South Australian on the helmet with a rearing delivery on an off stump line, as he tried to get out of its path. Nevertheless, Dizzy eschewed possible comparisons with his nickname, getting solidly in behind the next ball.

Gilchrist (127*) began taking the easy single offered him by Hussain, confident that his partner could keep the bowling out. Gillespie (11*) didn't let him down, as he began to nudge the occasional single and play successive deliveries from the pacemen to his feet.

The Australian 300 came up in concert with Gilchrist's hundred. The field was set for short bowling, but Gilly was undeterred, stepping back and playing something akin to a tennis smash down to deep mid on and the batsmen ran three, his century coming from just 91 balls.

Dawson (16-0-72-0) entered the attack and Gillespie drove him for a boundary to long off, with the fifty partnership coming a couple of balls later. More scintillating strokeplay ensued from Gilchrist, as Hussain's ring of fielders three quarters of the way to the rope neither attacked nor defended. He took the singles at will and punctured the cordon close to once an over, while Gillespie gained in confidence all the while. Australia went to lunch trailing by 26.

The first over after lunch went for a boundary each to Gilchrist and Gillespie, but the next over from Harmison (20.3-4-73-4) saw the demise of Gilchrist for a brilliant 133, when he edged through to Stewart, aiming another big drive through the covers. The partnership was worth a priceless 82.

MacGill scored a single to raise the 350, then Gillespie (31*) leapt down the wicket to smash the Yorkshire offie past the sightscreen into the delirious crowd. A comedy of errors followed, when Gillespie clubbed Hoggard's first ball with the new ball over mid on.

The tailenders ran three, but MacGill wanted four. Gillespie sent him back, after much midpitch indecision. Gillespie sent him back and he should have been run out by metres, but Stewart failed to glove the return and MacGill's dive got him home and Australia reached 9-363, grabbing a one-run lead. However, he holed out to Hussain at mid off from the next ball and the match could not have been more evenly balanced.

During the tea interval, Richie Benaud indicated that England should be looking to score at least 280 in the second innings. Anything over this figure would be a new record for a successful fourth innings run-chase and the visitors began in a very positive vein.

England (1-92 at tea) burst from the blocks in their second innings, with Vaughan (47* at tea) showing excellent temperament to shrug off the disappointment of his first innings duck, striking six boundaries and one glorious pull for six from Gillepsie (5-0-35-0).

The England openers launched into Gillespie in particular, so much so that that Waugh removed him after two overs and brought MacGill (9-1-33-0) on, only to watch in dismay as Trescothick first swept and then twice drove him through the covers for three boundaries in his first over.

Lee (5-0-15-1) began to swing the ball, drawing the batsmen forward. Then he bounced Vaughan, catching him by surprise and then on the helmet. Trescothick had been on the front foot as well, but Lee was able to find his inside edge and Banger heard the death rattle behind him, departing for a rapid 22 from 21 balls.

MacGill was settling into his work, getting some grip and sharp-ish turn, with one drawing the edge from Vaughan, the ball falling just short of Martin Love at slip. Keeping the ball consistently up on a length, he had both batsmen stretching to smother the spin, their runs coming mainly when the attacking fields were penetrated.

Gillespie replaced Lee at the Paddington End, after the posting of the fifty in the eleventh over, only to be savaged once more by the pugnacious Vaughan (47*), beginning with a lofted pull that landed just inside the square leg rope. He cut the next ball for another boundary, and for an encore, he clubbed another through to the mid wicket fence.

Bichel bowled two overs from the Paddington End to complement the good work of MacGill, but Vaughan and Butcher (19*) went into the dressing rooms in a very upbeat mood, after their positive work in the middle.

England had every right to feel happy, as their batsmen won the last session of Day Three well, adding 125 from 36 overs and losing just Butcher (34) with the score on 124. Given a life on 102 by Langer at mid wicket from change bowler Damien Martyn’s medium pacers late in the day – a relatively straightforward chance - Michael Vaughan (113*) moved to his third century for the series and eighth overall.

With Australia having missed the chance to pull a late rabbit from the hat, England advanced to outright favouritism on a day in which Australia first held the upper hand.

Vaughan and Hussain (34*) placed their team on top, leading by 217 with eight wickets in hand. The unbroken third wicket stand of 94 provided a perfect platform for the visitors to set an imposing fourth innings target on a wicket that was beginning to slow down and keep a little low.

Vaughan began where he left off after tea, hitting two boundaries, the first of which raised his fifty, the second – a delicate late cut from Bichel - the England hundred. Butcher, not be overshadowed and keen to build on his big first innings score, used his feet to MacGill (23-2-76-1) for two driven boundaries, despite the increasing turn. However, Magilla had the last laugh, getting one to spit and rear - cobra-like - from the rough outside the left-hander’s off stump, brush his glove and float easily to Hayden at short leg.

This was the last moment of joy for Australia, as the England batsmen put their heads down, defended the good balls and put away the bad with skill and professionalism, with Michael Vaughan in particular playing some glorious cuts, pulls and drives. Bichel (10-0-32-0) and MacGill toiled manfully for the first hour, but without luck, as Michael Vaughan top-edged attempted pulls three times that fell safely clear of the leg side field.

Two boundaries from Damien Martyn (3-0-14-0) raised Vaughan’s century, marking the first time an Englishman made three tons in an Ashes series, since Chris Broad achieved the feat in the 1986-7 series here in Australia. The Yorkshireman’s luck held, a leading edge in the next over falling just short of the bowler.

Steve Waugh (4-2-3-0) spelled Lee (10-1-45-1) late in the day, and Hussain padded up to the first ball, drawing a vociferous appeal. The England captain might have felt a little fortunate on viewing the replay, which showed the ball adjacent, in line stump-to-stump and possibly taking the off bail. It flicked the top of the pad to clear the timber by a centimetre or so. The England duo shut up shop thereafter and went in at stumps on 2-218, well-set to engineer a rare Ashes victory.

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