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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 07:37 GMT
Australia v England - 1st Test
Brisbane: 23-27 November, 2006
606 debate | TMS blog comment
Jonathan Agnew's verdict

FIRST TEST, BRISBANE, DAY TWO (close): Australia 602-9 dec v England 53-3

By Paul Grunill

Glenn McGrath celebrates a wicket
McGrath proved he is still one of the world's best new ball bowlers
England face an uphill struggle to save the first Ashes Test in Brisbane after being reduced to 53-3 at close of play on the second day.

Glenn McGrath dismissed Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook with successive balls and Stuart Clark turned the screw by having Paul Collingwood caught behind.

Australia made a massive 602-9 declared in their innings, the third highest total at the Gabba.

It was built around Ricky Ponting's 196, which included 24 boundaries.

After a good spell in mid-afternoon when Matthew Hoggard dismissed Ponting and Adam Gilchrist in the same over, the effect of five hard sessions in the field took its toll on England.

Although their fielding was generally adequate, two chances were missed, the first when James Anderson could not hold on to a diving attempt early in Warne's innings.

Clark was given a let-off, too, after Alastair Cook failed to get under a top-edge off Harmison.

It could have saved the onslaught that followed as Clark (39) and Brett Lee (43 not out) hit out with unfettered abandon in a ninth-wicket stand of 50 off 44 balls.

645 Aus v Eng 1946
607-6 dec Aus v NZ 1993
602-9 dec Aus v Eng 2006
601-8 dec Aus v Eng 1954
585 Aus v NZ 2004

Clark hammered two sixes off Anderson before he was yorked by Andrew Flintoff, who had separated the overnight pair of Ponting and Mike Hussey during the morning session by ripping one through Hussey's defence to bowl him for 86.

But by then their partnership was worth 209, a fourth-wicket record for Australia at the ground, beating the 170 by Kim Hughes and Graeme Yallop in 1978.

Flintoff is still feeling his way back following ankle surgery but he was by far England's most threatening bowler and returned figures of 4-99.

One delivery, in particular, indicated Flintoff's strength of purpose as it leapt ferociously off a length and narrowly missed the edge of a startled Ponting's bat.

His demeanour was in marked contrast to that of Steve Harmison (1-123), who again began his work for the day with a wide and looked almost apologetic when he claimed a solitary wicket as Shane Warne gloved a catch to the keeper.

Facing Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath is a daunting task at any time, and doubly so when a total of 403 is needed just to save the follow-on.

Brett lee and Mike Hussey
Lee suffered as Hussey took a brave catch to dismiss Strauss

Strauss and Cook began cautiously as Lee hurled the ball down at around 95mph and McGrath found some of the nip of yesteryear as the new ball pair strove for a breakthrough.

It was eventually handed to them on a plate when Strauss, on 12, attempted the pull shot which has led to his downfall on a number of occasions in the past year and top edged to backward square leg.

Hussey and Lee both converged on the ball at full tilt and it was Hussey who won the race and held on despite a collision between them which left Lee with a cut knee.

He was back in the dressing room receiving treatment when McGrath ran up for his next delivery, which was on a perfect length, cutting away just enough to take the edge of Cook's bat.

606 DEBATE: Tell us your thoughts on this Test

Warne made the slip catch look simple, sending the Essex youngster on his way for 11 in his first innings in an Ashes Test.

Lee's exit from the field also meant a bowling change and replacement Stuart Clark confirmed the good impression he made in taking 20 wickets in South Africa earlier this year.

Although quicker than McGrath, he followed his principles of consistent line and length to keep the pressure on the batsmen.

It proved too much for Collingwood, who played slightly across the line at a superb leg-cutter and was caught behind by Gilchrist for five.

Kevin Pietersen announced his arrival in the middle by pulling McGrath authoritatively for four, but he then settled for playing out time and was six not out at stumps with Bell on 13.





Ponting 'greatest since Bradman'
23 Nov 06 |  England
McGrath rejects concern over age
24 Nov 06 |  England
England suffer as Ponting shines
23 Nov 06 |  England


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