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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
Justin Langer column (4th Test)
Australia opener Justin Langer writes for BBC Sport on every day of the Ashes series
By Justin Langer
Australia Test batsman

DAY FOUR

DAY THREE

There is a feeling in the air that this fourth Test match has the potential to follow on from the last two games of this series.

Sure, England might take a few early wickets in the morning and the Test could be over by lunch time.

Australia's Michael Clarke
For two days England have shaken us around like a dog with a rag doll in its mouth

But if everything falls into place and the tempo follows the trend of what has been one of the great Test series of our time, then my gut feeling is that there may still be a few twists in this match yet.

For two days England have shaken us around like a dog with a rag doll in its mouth.

But as we have shown in the last few weeks, there is plenty of fight in that rag doll when we have ripped ourselves out of the jaws of our opponent.

England, to their credit, keep throwing everything they have at us, but to our credit we are taking the blows and keep dragging ourselves up off the mat.

It would be fair to say that for a lot of the last two and a half Tests we have been hanging on by the skins of our teeth, and that England have been playing better cricket.

But often champions hang in there no matter what and make things happen from nowhere.

This has been apparent over the course of this series and I would hope this never-say-die attitude will continue until the last ball of the series has been bowled.

With two very good young Australian batsmen at the crease and Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Brett Lee still available to score runs, the prospect is still optimistic.

We know how hard it is to score runs to win such an important game of cricket, so every run will be like silk for us tomorrow.

You just never know what could happen in the morning, but whatever does happen you can be sure cricket is thriving as a result of this brilliant contest between 22 gladiatorial cricket players who know the size of the prize we are all playing for.

DAY TWO

Well, what can I say tonight? For one, I hope I don't start slurring my words somewhere down the track as a symptom of too many hits to the helmet from bully fast bowlers.

The novelty of using my helmet rather than my cricket bat is quickly losing its appeal.

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff's century was magnificent

Before this series began a lot was made of the similarities between Andrew Strauss' batting style and mine.

What people failed to mention was that we tend to use our helmets more than we should.

By the looks of things we are having a competition to see who can get hit the most.

While there wasn't much I could do today, we both may be better served watching the ball a little closer for the remainder of the series.

Before adding another badge of honour to my skull, Freddie Flintoff proved again why he is one of the game's great all-rounders.

His century today was magnificent as he struck the cricket ball as hard as anyone around.

He was ably partnered by Geraint Jones, who seems to be gaining in confidence as the summer progresses.

Again we find ourselves in an unenviable situation in this Test match, but as we have seen throughout, anyone would be foolish to make a judgement of how the remainder of this Test may pan out.

Tomorrow is another day; lets hope from where I sit it is a much better one than today.

DAY ONE

For the second time in three Test matches we were dealt a tough blow, when Glenn McGrath was ruled out of this all-important fourth Test with an elbow injury.

He is convinced someone or some group in England has a voodoo doll in their possession and they are playing games with his ageing body.

Shaun Tait
In the second Test it was a freakish accident to his ankle; today it looks like an injury caused by wear and tear rather than an isolated incident.

When you lose such an experienced and skilled campaigner just before the toss it is bound to have an effect on the team but, after much soul searching over the last week or so, his loss did little to dampen our enthusiasm for this contest.

From the first ball of the day it was apparent we are very committed to this Test match. Our energy was brilliant, as was our athleticism in the field.

Admittedly, we bowled a few too many no-balls and boundary balls in the first session but after lunch, and a couple of rain delays, we played much better cricket.

If we could pinpoint one highlight for the day it must be the debut of Shaun Tait.

In Shaun we have a young man who bowls similarly to Jeff Thomson. Having played against him before in domestic cricket there is no doubt he can be a handful for any batsman.

With the ability to swing the ball at a very high pace, he promises to be a great spearhead for Australia.

Earlier in the week I had the misfortune of facing the youngster in the nets as he attempted to impress the selectors.

His first ball yorked me and sent my off stump flying into the back net.

The second ball never touched the turf and split my protective box, while the third ball flew off a length and crashed into my left forearm.

If there was any doubt whether he was ready for Test cricket, those three balls suggested to Trevor Hohns and Ricky Ponting that he was ripe for the picking.

Two wickets with fantastic outswingers will boost his confidence and after another extremely intense day of Test cricket I am sure he, like his team-mates, will sleep well before gearing up for another big day on Friday.


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