5th Test: England v Australia at The Oval, 23-27 Aug 2001|
Australia 1st innings:
England 1st innings:
COURAGEOUS STEVE WAUGH CARRIES AUSTRALIA TO MAMMOTH TOTALIf this proves to be Steve Waugh's swansong in England then those who were lucky enough to get tickets for the fifth and final npower Ashes Test at the AMP Oval will have witnessed something very special and rather extraordinary.
The Australian captain made an unbeaten 157 to take his side to declaration and feasibly their fourth win in five contests. From early on in his innings, the calf injury that forced him to leave the field by stretcher at Trent Bridge, stiffened up, restricting both his batting and his running, which made the completion of his 27th Test century all the more remarkable.
It was not attractive to watch though it was his obvious pain and discomfort, rather than any untidiness in his strokeplay, that made many of the 18 000 crowd squirm in sympathy. There were a few balls that left the square two feet above the ground, which was unusual, but that apart it was a gritty and truly inspiring performance from a man who has steel coursing through his veins.
Waugh joined his brother Mark and Justin Langer in the centurions gang, two finishing unbeaten - Langer retired hurt on Thursday for 102 and Steve undefeated - and Mark losing his wicket for 120 during the afternoon session. The Waugh twins put on 197 for the third wicket, the second highest stand in their long career and it was 'Junior' who reached his century first, having faced 161 balls and hitting 13 of them for four and one for six.
Like his previous hundred at Lord's, this exhibition was a lesson in natural skill and timing and is bound to feature heavily in the Ashes series highlights, when they are compiled. It was attractive and entertaining and was matched in importance only by his brother's innings for its courage and determination.
Six of the seven batsmen who featured in Australia's first innings effort of 641 for four declared, made 60 or more and only Adam Gilchrist recorded a comparative failure making 25 from 32 balls before he became a landmark wicket for slow left armer Usman Afzaal, bowling for the first time in Test cricket and snaffling Gilchrist with a wide full toss which was despatched to extra cover.
Australia resumed in the morning on 324 for two and after giving England a simple chance with the fourth delivery of the day, forced them to wait until 45 minutes after lunch before handing them another opportunity, which was seized on rather more successfully.
Had Mark Butcher taken the catch at first slip, with Waugh on 50, the story for the day may well have been different but what should have been an easy take ended up as an exercise in juggling which ended in failure. The scene was thus set for the day and rarely, throughout the 70 overs of Australia's innings, did the smiles return to England's faces.
The pitch was flat enough to convince a delusional batsman he could bat like Bradman but for the bowlers, the figures were distressing. Andrew Caddick took none for 146 while Phil Tufnell finished with one for 174.
Australia's spinner Shane Warne did not have to wait so long before his boots started to fill. When the declaration finally came at 4.38pm, it left a weary England with a tricky 18 overs to face in the muggy London heat. After fielding for the best part of two days in boiling hot temperatures, they could have done with an ice bath and a lie down.
Instead Mike Atherton and Marcus Trescothick were required to put on their pads and square up to Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, who had been relaxing around the cooler box for five whole sessions.
Neither batsman showed signs of fatigue until the 13th over when Atherton, who had already faced two overs from Warne, was surprised by the spin and bowled for 13. England were 58 for one, needing 442 to avoid the follow on.
Trescothick raced to his half century in 49 balls, with all but ten of the runs coming in boundaries and by the close, he was unbetaen on 55 with Mark Butcher, the Headingley hero, not out 10.
At tea, Waugh was unbeaten on 137 having played a remarkable innings over four-and-a-half hours. The calf injury he sustained at Trent Bridge started giving him problems early on and while it restricted his running between the wickets, it did not prevent him from casting a dusty shadow of gloom over England who have now toiled for the best part of two days for their modest reward of four wickets.
It was the unlikely figure of slow left-armer Usman Afzaal who was finally called on by England captain Nasser Hussain to have a go at breaking up Waugh and Adam Gilchrist after they had put on 45 for the fourth wicket.
With just his third delivery he tempted Gilchrist with a ball that turned, forcing him to stretch outside the off stump and slash it to Mark Ramprakash at extra cover. It was a bonus for Hussain who had bowled all his full-timers into the ground on a boiling hot day in London with only Darren Gough enjoying any success with the prized wicket of Mark Waugh.
The score at tea was a massive 580 for four with Waugh's partner Damien Martyn not out 25. With so many runs in this pitch, Waugh is expected to bat on until Australia have clocked up around 650 so runmaking in the post tea session is set to be fast and furious.
In an historic session which saw the brothers follow in the footsteps of the Greg and Ian Chappell in 1972, the Waughs played contrasting styles in their accumulation of runs, the Australian skipper hampered by a recurrence of his calf injury which prevented him from playing his normal range of shots and running freely.
It was painful to watch as he hobbled between the wickets, his sights firmly set on a century in what could well be his last innings in England. He spent 17 agonising balls on 98, unwilling to risk a run unless it was assured and another eight on 99, before scrambling to reach the other end.
When he reached his 27th Test century, he had faced 190 balls, hitting 15 fours and a six, in a feat of great courage.
By the time the hundred came, his brother was long gone having been bowled through the gate by Darren Gough. The innings was as sublime as his hundred at Lord's in the third Test and when he departed for 120, he was given a standing ovation by the 18 000 strong crowd who had relished his elegant strokeplay and timeless technique.
With an hour to go to tea, Australia had moved to 500 for three, having batted for the best part of five hot and humid sessions.
At lunch, Steve and Mark had completed their ninth century partnership - their fifth against England - and neither had shown any inclination to surrender their wickets before hundreds appeared in their own individual scorebooks.
Mark, who resumed this morning on 48, proceeded smoothly to an unbeaten 92 at lunch while Steve added 65 to his total to take lunch on 77 not out. His fifty came in 114 balls and included seven thumping boundaries and a six, to accompany the huge straight six struck into the pavilion earlier by Mark off Phil Tufnell.
Apart from one chance on the fourth delivery of the morning, when Mark Butcher dropped Mark Waugh at first slip for 50, Australia offered up no opportunities for England to raise their spirits.
They made hay on a perfect batting track, supported by the capacity crowd who once again, were soaking up the south London sun and enjoying what might be their last opportunity to see the Waugh twins perform together for Australia in England.
They added 116 during the morning session to take their side to an intimidating 440 for two, with Justin Langer still to finish his innings after he retired hurt yesterday on 102.
He completed his century a few balls earlier after playing courageously for over four hours but he attempted to hook a 84.2 mph ball from Caddick and like all his previous attempts, the shot did not come off and the ball thudded into the side of his helmet, causing him to crumple to the ground.
He wobbled off, aided by the Australia physio Erroll Alcott and a doctor who had been summoned to the crease to attend to a three inch gash above his ear, and received a standing ovation from a capacity crowd before being taken off to hospital for a precautionary scan.
It had been a brave innings from the outset. He was left out of the First npower Ashes Test at the start of the summer after showing average form since arriving on tour and failed to regain his place until Michael Slater, to everyone's surprise, was dropped after the Headingley Test.
Normally a number three batsman, he opened with Matthew Hayden and despite a quiet start, when he looked out of touch and tentative in his shot selection, he stayed put, unwilling to take risks or be hurried.
By the time he lost his partner, they had formed the highest opening stand of the summer. The broad shouldered Hayden was eventually caught at midwicket off Phil Tufnell's bowling for 68, having used every ounce of his formidable power to blast nine boundaries.
But at tea, Australia were starting to motor having gathered 203 runs in two sessions on a flat pitch that had always looked to favour the batsmen even when there was early cloud cover combined with high degree humidity. There was little that Nasser Hussain could do and with the exception of Darren Gough, who bowled without conviction, his bowlers stuck to their plan.
But there were no wickets and apart from a couple of half chances in the morning when Usman Afzaal tried to run out Hayden with a lightning fast return from short leg and, when the ball bounced in front of Mark Butcher from the blade of Langer, there were no close calls either.
Langer made 102 before he was struck on the head and his departure brought together Ponting and Mark Waugh, who despatched Gough for two consecutive fours, one gloriously to the cover boundary and the next even more elegantly to the square leg rope.
The pair added 56 in 12 overs before Ponting was brilliantly caught by Mike Atherton at first slip for 62. It handed Jimmy Ormond his first wicket in Test cricket and it was well deserved after he had showed discipline and intelligence throughout his 18 overs, and few signs of first Test nerves.
When Ponting left, the score was 292 for two and Waugh, accompanied by his brother Steve who made a startling recovery from injury to take his place in what could his last Test match in England, had taken the Australian total to 324 for two, with the skipper unbeaten on 12 and Mark just two away from his half-century.
At 6.30pm, with eight overs of the day remaining, bad light took the players off the field. It was the third interruption of the day – around 40 minutes was earlier lost due to light drizzle but this time, with three lights on the board, the crowd started to disperse knowing that in the murky gloom, any more play looked distinctly unlikely.
By the time he coaxed Hayden into sweeping to midwicket, where he was safely taken by Marcus Trescothick, the Australian had made 68 and with Justin Langer, had put on 158 for the first wicket, which was the highest for any opening stand during this series.
The mist, which fell like a blanket over London early this morning, refused to lift, making the conditions muggy and uncomfortable. After an earlier stoppage for rain, the umpires once again called a halt to proceedings an hour into the afternoon session when more light rain began to fall.
Play was held up for 22 minutes and it was shortly after the interruption that Hayden lost his wicket, having been at the crease for three hours, hitting nine boundaries from 125 deliveries. It was a typically powerful Hayden innings though started more cautiously than normal, giving his partner Langer the chance to find his feet after his break from Test cricket.
Together their diligence paid dividends, their opening stand beating the previous best of the series - 98 by Michael Slater and Hayden at Edgbaston.
After his initial circumspection and rustiness, Langer, playing in his first Test in England, started timing his shots with greater precision and looked well set for his eighth Test hundred, going into tea unbeaten on 88.
At the other end, Ricky Ponting made rapid progress and at tea, the pair had added 45 to take the score to 203 for one, with 137 runs being added during the afternoon session on a pitch that is giving bowlers precious little assistance.
Both players made half-centuries as England struggled in the oppressive London heat to penetrate the Australian order. One hour after lunch, they had taken their side to 144 having added 78 since the interval.
Langer, who replaced Michael Slater as opener to make his first appearance for Australia in England, started to ease up after his untidy start and followed Hayden to his 50, facing 113 balls and hitting five fours and a huge six off slow left-armer Phil Tufnell over mid wicket.
Hayden's 50 came in 99 balls and included seven fours and when he reached 56, it was his highest score of the series. Reaching 100 without loss was also a first in the series with Australia coming closest in the First Test at Edgbaston with 98 by Hayden and Michael Slater.
After 39 overs, Langer had moved to 65 edging ahead of Hayden who was on 60, both players exploiting some post-lunch errors by England's bowlers who contributed nine runs in an hour to Australia's total, including five no balls.
At 2.47pm, umpires took the players off the field for the second time when light rain started to fall, with the score 146 without loss.
At lunch, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer, who was recalled to the Australian side after Michael Slater was dropped, had added 66 without loss though Langer had struggled with his timing, looking decidedly scratchy after missing four Tests in this npower Ashes series.
It was Hayden who created the most opportunities for England. He brought up Australia's 50 by carving Darren Gough through the gap between third slip and gully at waist height and after a 14 minute stoppage for rain, he had another lucky escape when he survived an appeal for leg before.
The players left the field after 20 overs when the cloudy and humid conditions gave way to light drizzle but returned soon after to complete another four overs to lunch.
Ormond was the pick of the England bowlers during the morning session seeing his seven overs go for just 16 runs, but had still to notch up his first Test wicket and at lunch Langer had reached 29 with Hayden not out at the other end with 26.
Langer, who was dropped for the First npower Ashes Test of the series after 33 consecutive appearances for his country, looked scratchy in the early morning haze in South London as he tried to regain his form on his final chance in the fifth clash between England and Australia.
Batting with fellow left-hander Matthew Hayden, the pair made a relatively quiet start, facing 18 deliveries before opening their account and scoring at less than two an over for the first half hour.
After an hour's play, Australia had upped their run rate, reaching 40 without loss, with Hayden not out 14 and Langer on 16.
Steve Waugh, returning to the captaincy after missing out at Headingley due to injury, earlier won the toss and chose to bat first on a flat pitch.
His correct call gave Nasser Hussain his ninth consecutive failure with the coin and on a hot and humid morning, the toss may well prove a good one to win.
England's Jimmy Ormond, making his debut in the absence of injured Alex Tudor and Alan Mullally, was called up in the 12th over and gave the batsmen no scoring opportunities, though yielded four byes with a wayward ball.
The 24 year-old England 'A' swing bowler, who is believed to be leaving Leicestershire at the end of the summer to join Surrey, joins Phil Tufnell, the Middlesex spinner who is recalled to the England squad following an 18 month absence.
It was Tufnell who bowled England to victory against Australia at the Oval in 1997, though this summer the pitch has not given as much assistance to Surrey's spinners and the pale yellow track chosen for this last Test is unlikely to help either Tufnell or Shane Warne, who is four short of his 400 Test wickets, to break any records.
Australian captain Steve Waugh returned from injury to lead his side for what could be the last time in England. After being stretchered off at Trent Bridge, Waugh has made a remarkable recovery to make sure of his place in this last Ashes encounter.
As a result Simon Katich returns to dressing room duties, which he will share with Michael Slater, who was dropped in favour of Justin Langer.
Nasser Hussain lost the toss for the ninth consecutive time but Waugh chose to bat first in his bid to finish the series with an emphatic 4-1 score line and depriving Mark Butcher, who made 173* at Headingley, of the chance for another triumph on his 29th birthday.
England: Nasser Hussain (capt, Essex); Mike Atherton (Lancs); Marcus Trescothick (Somerset); Mark Butcher (Surrey); Mark Ramprakash (Surrey); Alec Stewart (Surrey); Usman Afzaal (Nottinghamshire); Andrew Caddick (Somerset); Darren Gough (Yorkshire); James Ormond (Leicestershire); Phil Tufnell (Middlesex)
Australia: Steve Waugh (capt); Adam Gilchrist; Matthew Hayden ; Justin Langer; Ricky Ponting; Mark Waugh; Damien Martyn; Shane Warne; Brett Lee; Jason Gillespie; Glenn McGrath.
Ormond was preferred to Somerset's Richard Johnson as a replacement for the injured Alex Tudor (rib).
Steve Waugh returns to captain Australia, while Justin Langer is chosen ahead of Michael Slater.
N Hussain (Essex, captain), M Atherton (Lancashire), M Trescothick (Somerset), M Butcher (Surrey), M Ramprakash (Surrey), U Afzaal (Nottinghamshire), A Stewart (Surrey), A Caddick (Somerset), D Gough (Yorkshire), J Ormond (Leicestershire), P Tufnell (Middlesex).
Australia team: ML Hayden, JL Langer, RT Ponting, ME Waugh, *SR Waugh, DR Martyn, +AC Gilchrist, SK Warne, JN Gillespie, GD McGrath, B Lee.
Date-stamped : 24 Aug2001 - 22:50