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Australia v England - 4th Test
Melbourne: 26-30 December, 2006

Test Match Special podcast | Blog



FOURTH TEST, MELBOURNE, DAY THREE: Australia 419 beat England 159 & 161 by an innings and 99 runs

Australia cruise to an emphatic victory inside three days at the MCG and maintain her aspirations for a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

THE DAY'S ACTION (all times local to Melbourne - GMT+11)

By Pranav Soneji

Right, that's it - I'm outta here. Thanks to everyone who has emailed in, we've laughed, cried, cried some more, unleashed expletive-laden vitriol at our respective computer screens. Good luck to my successor Tom Fordyce, who will inject yet more sarcasm, wit and anything else he sees fit (and to be honest that could be anything) for the fifth Test in Sydney.

Jonathan Agnew
"To lose by an innings in three days is pretty feeble."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

Shane Warne grabs a stump and is hauled on the shoulders of centurions Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden for a lap of honour around The G. Warney's looking a little uncertain and he's finally put down among a throng of photographers. Warney's joined by Glenn McGrath as the pair walk down the players' tunnel arm-in-arm.

ENGLAND LOSE BY AN INNINGS AND 99 RUNS

Batsman is out
1744: WICKET England 161 all out (Hoggard 9)
A Brett Lee yorker finds its way through Matthew Hoggard's dogged defence and the Aussies go absolutely bananas.

Jonathan Agnew
"At least England have scored more than their first innings. But they won't score many more I fear."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

1740: Nice to see a bit of defiance from the last pair - Hoggy's clearly not happy about his demotion to 11 because he's cracked open his array of strokes previously never seen before. A couple of sweeps and a drive push the total along. 158-9

1736: Lee is bowling around the wicket. He's also bowling pretty fast too. A nasty, rising delivery deflects off Hoggard's thigh pad for four. The shaggy-haired Yorkshireman's face says it all. Poor bloke. You can put your feet up tomorrow son. 155-9

1731: A Hoggy slog sweep sees three runs added to the total. Not much else to report. Apart from a nagging twinging pain in my back. 151-9

"Spare a thought for my 13-year-old son. He's Australian born and bred with an Aussie mother but as an ex-pat I've brainwashed him into being a Pommie. He's feeling this as much as me but really he should be on top of the world. He cops stick every time he (we) turn up for his under-14 matches."
Chris Ryder, Sydney

"If Warne gets this final wicket, my goodness me."
Henry Blofeld on TMS

Batsman is out
1722: WICKET England 146-9 (Panesar 14)
Montyvision comes to an end attempting to duck out of the way of a short Lee delivery, but he forgets to withdraw his bat and Michael Clarke pouches the simplest catch he will ever take at fourth slip. Out strolls Matthew Hoggard. What must be going through his head? "Wish I was walking the dogs on the Dales" is probably one of them.

1720: Montyvision is thorough entertainment - the newly anointed Beard of the Year carves Warne over mid-on for four. Time to reverse the batting order. 145-8

"The gig is almost up but Read is showing admirable fighting qualities to fight a war he cannot win. His performance should settle England's keeping debate."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1716: No matter what he does on the cricket field, Monty always manages to entertain. A really classy flick off his legs races to the fine leg boundary, while a couple of slick nicks have fallen short of the ever-increasing slip cordon. 140-8

1712: Monty gets off the mark with a single, but manages to thread a fine snick between Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden for three off the disbelieving Warne. Two more singles from the spirited Read, who at least is showing he has the fight to take this match to a fourth day. 134-8

"Go see the Fairy Penguins at Phillip Island, well South of Melbourne. Beautiful area.
Andrew, USA

1708: Monty manages to play and miss most of Brett Lee's over, but give him credit, that's a very straight bat he is missing those balls with. 127-8

"I don't live too far from the MCG and as I am busy doing up the house, you could come down tomorrow and watch my paint dry. Nowhere near as interesting as watching Warney mete out the punishment but a lot less painful."
Tim, Melbourne

Batsman is out
1701: WICKET England 128-8 (Harmison 4)
A Warne yorker hits Harmison on the foot dead in front as he tries to sweep. It's one of the easier lbw decisions umpire Dar will make in his career. Anyone still there? Good. Monty Panesar comes out to probably the second biggest cheer of the afternoon.

1658: Any suggestions for things to do in Melbourne when you should be watching a Test match at the MCG? Read picks up two with a tickle down to fine leg off Lee. 125-7

1653: Warne is really mixing up his deliveries, more so than any other time in this series. Read just about reads (no pun intended) two consecutive googlies before slashing a wide one for a single. Top over. 123-7

Geoffrey Boycott

"There are a few stories to suggest it's not all hunky dory. You can try and paper over it, like Collingwood has done a few times, but it's not good."
Geoffrey Boycott on disquiet in the England camp

1647: Maiden from Clark. Harmy is wearing a few choice bruises thanks to Clark's probing length and surprise lift. 122-7

1642: Two swept runs for Read off that Warne over. He's toying with the Nottinghamshire stumper, who has seen plenty of leg-spin in his time keeping to Warne's compatriot Stuart MacGill at Trent Bridge. 122-7

Apologies for getting the wickets wrong people, but to be honest there isn't too much difference between seven and eight with this lot...

1639: Rudi is a tough man to appease - a massive appeal on the last ball of Clark's over is turned down by the South African umpire. Replays suggest the ball would have taken leg stump. At least he is being consistent with both teams. 120-7

1635: Lots of carving from Harmison earns him three runs in that Warne over. It's amazing to think that the greatest bowler in the history of the game is fuelled by pizza, cheese sandwiches and fags. Maybe that's where we're going wrong. 119-7

1632: Read picks up six runs off that Clark over including a thickish edge through the gully for four. 116-7

1628: Warney should have had another wicket when a googly brushes the glove of Harmison, looping up into the hands of Matthew Hayden at slip. The Australians are jumping about all over the place, but umpire Dar is unmoved - much to the incredulity of Warne, who is absolutely incensed. Careful Shane, Mr Ranjan Madugalle, the ICC match referee, might want a few words. 110-7

1624: Forget men against boys - this is like the X-Men v The Budley Salterton over-75s bus drivers' XI. Clark raps Read three times on the pad, each appeal brings about a shake of the head from umpire Koertzen. 109-7

Batsman is out
1618: WICKET England 109-7(Mahmood 0)
Lordy, Warne traps Saj Mahmood lbw dead in front with a devil of a flipper. It's a classic Warne dismissal, Mahmood had no idea it was the one that skids on because he was playing for the spin. It really is an honour to watch a man of his unrivalled talent in full flow.

Batsman is out
1613: WICKET England 108-6 (Flintoff 25)
I think it's safe to say we're now in mopping up the tail territory because Flintoff is trapped lbw to a ball he plays all around. Up goes the death finger of Rudi, as Flintoff, who pulled a four off Clark earlier in the over, trudges off to be replaced by Saj Mahmood.

"England management is unhappy with the Melbourne Cricket Club's findings over the leaked bowling plans saga. The ECB will conduct its own investigations."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1609: You can only sit back and admire the genius of Shane Warne. He beats Read on three separate occasions with leg-breaks that would (probably) have the great Don Bradman in knots. A maiden over. 104-5

1605: Stuart Clark is back into the attack and doing exactly what he has been doing throughout this series, putting the ball where no batsman likes it. My colleague Paresh says Clark's parents are English - can't we have him? He has an optimistic appeal for lbw turned down. 104-5

"Lee is bouncing in after his strike but Warne is receiving the biggest cheer. Five wickets from victory in his last match at the MCG. You try to get the ball out of his hands."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1600: It's not pretty to watch, but Read is keeping Shane Warne out. I'm not sure Read knows how he's doing it, but all I can say is keep doing it. A maiden. 104-5

1556: An inside edge for two from Flintoff turns into three as Lee oversteps the popping crease. The England captain is looking reassuringly competent, especially on the drive where he picks up two doubles, one to mid-off and the other through cover. 104-5

"How I wish I'd not covered the room with the downloadable players masks before the start of the series."
David, Perth, WA

1552: Read is off the mark thanks to a juicy Warne full toss dispatched beyond mid-on for three. Two singles from Flintoff keeps the scoreboard ticking over. 97-5

Jonathan Agnew

"Read at the moment doesn't fill me with much confidence."Jonathan Agnew on TMS

1547: More wafts outside off stump from Read to Lee. If only his batting right now was as assured as his keeping. Another single from Flintoff early in the over. 92-5

1543: I don't think Chris Read has much of an idea about what is coming out of Warne's hand, the cricket equivalent of Aramaic. Flintoff picks up a single at the start of the over. 91-5

1543: I don't think Chris Read has much of an idea about what is coming out of Warne's hand, the cricket equivalent of Aramaic. Flintoff picks up a single at the start of the over. 91-5

"Can't we introduce a handicap system for England? Apart from the obvious ones of giving Australia only one innings or giving England a 200 run head start. Other more interesting ones might include Australia having to wear an eye patch or Australian fielders having to include a hop, skip and a jump every time they chase for the ball. Any other ideas?"
Ian

Batsman is out
1537: WICKET England 90-5 (Strauss 31)
Sorry John from Anglesey, ain't gonna happen - Strauss nicks a wide Lee delivery outside off stump straight into the gloves of Adam Gilchrist. He really didn't really need to play that stroke. Chris Read comes in and gets a toe-cruncher first up. Wicket maiden.

"Dig in boys, we're rooting for you."
John Coleman, Anglesey

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

"Will the England team pay me compensation for the damage to my PC after repeatedly banging my head against it?"
Simon Hemsworth

Ian Chappell
"I don't know what he's like as a card player, but judging by his bowling I doubt he (Warne) would miss any tricks."
Ian Chappell on TMS

TEA

1514: Flintoff's heart is (probably) in his mouth as Warne skids through a flipper, striking his pad on the crease. Warne goes up for an almighty appeal, but umpire Aleem Dar shakes his head, much to the dismay of the histrionic Warne. Replays show Flintoff managed an inside edge onto his pad. Time for tea. 90-4

1509: A flashing cut from Andrew Strauss off Lee finds the boundary. Strauss watchfully plays out the rest of the over. 90-4

1505: Nice display of Freddie's ample batting talent - a subtle, fine tickle for two before a huge, powerful sweep for four off Warne. He adds another two with a cover drive. He's the kind of batsman who needs to keep the scoreboard ticking over whatever the situation. 86-4

1501: Good tight over from Lee, who keeps Strauss pinned at the striker's end. Maiden over. 78-4

Ian Chappell
"Once you colour-code (the bowling plans) you start to confuse the quickies."
Ian Chappell on TMS

1456: Nice drive through cover off a well-flighted leg-break by Flintoff, who adds two runs to his score. Warne is starting to delve into his bag of mischief. 78-4

Batsman is out
1450: WICKET England 75-4 (Collingwood 16)
I think I can hear Bella Emberg warming up her vocal cords - Paul Collingwood drills a juicy half-volley from Brett Lee straight into the hands of Justin Langer at short cover, who takes a very smart catch. If you have tickets for day four, start thinking up alternative plans for Friday. Time for a captain's innings like we've never seen before Freddie. The all-rounder gets off the mark with an unconvincing single off the inside edge. 76-4

"The Melbourne Cricket Club has found nothing improper about the 'leaked' England plans for Australia batsmen. No evidence of theft. The matter is now closed."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1446: Warney isn't getting too much grip on this day three surface. However that's probably because he isn't loose yet. A single down the pitch from Collingwood keeps the scoreboard ticking over. 73-3

1443: More attrition from Collingwood, who picks up a solitary single. Not much else to report, apart from the no-ball cries from the Army. A little tiresome I think. 72-3

"I have decided that I cannot watch the fourth Test anymore and I am going to lie in my 45 degree heat workshop and play with the redback spiders!"
Hayden, Perth

1438: They absolutely worship Warney around these parts, he really can do no wrong. He beats Strauss with a teaser outside off stump, a delivery which the batsman wants to drive through cover, but did not get any bat on it. A single from Collingwood in that over. 71-3

1435: Collingwood drives a Lee full toss - a no-ball to boot - through extra cover. A massive cheer erupts around the MCG as Warney starts to loosen up at first slip. 70-3

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

1429: A run-out is probably the last thing we want - but we almost got one when Andrew Strauss failed to respond to a Collingwood call for a second run off Stuart Clark. He would've been out by a distance had Brett Lee's throw from fine leg found the stumps. Collingwood declines the second run playing a identical shot a few balls later. Meanwhile Strauss paddles a run down to fine leg. 66-3

1424: Strauss hits only the second boundary of the day with a confident pull off Lee, who is accompanied by his usual no-ball chants from the Barmy Army. This won't worry Australia, who dismissed the England vice-captain twice playing that shot in Brisbane.61-3

1419: Collingwood nurdles two runs off Stuart Clark, this really isn't good for the heart. As well as obesity, the Government should crack down on bad England performances because the NHS can't handle the upsurge in nightly sweats and all sorts of other stress-related illnesses. 57-3

DRINKS

1413: Collingwood hits a good looking drive for three through the covers as McGrath changes tact and comes around the wicket to Strauss. But nothing of alarm before the drinks break. 55-3

Geoffrey Boycott
"Strauss is not playing like a man who wants to stay there all day."
Geoffrey Boycott on TMS

"And Warne's not even picked the ball up yet!!"
Concerned, Singapore

"The local fans are appealing for everything. They know this could be over today. It would be a new low for England if they couldn't take this to four days."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1408: Another tight over Clark, who has troubled every single England batsman in this series. Two runs for Strauss, who guides a short ball on leg stump round for two. 52-3

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

"Do you think they included a batting collapse in the plans?"
Dan, Blackpool

Batsman scores 50
1403: Yet another quality probing over from Glenn McGrath, who is all over Paul Collingwood. Another double ton would do nicely PC. One run from Strauss off that over brings up the 50. 50-3

"Calypso, a Caribbean style dance. Collapso, a dance perfected by the England cricket team, where they waltz out of the pavilion, do a few fancy moves on the wicket before returning back to the pavilion. Repeat 10 times and opposition gives standing ovation."
Matt, Birmingham

Batsman is out
1356: WICKET England 49-3 (Pietersen 1)
Hello? Is that Mr Batting Collapse? Kevin Pietersen plays down the wrong line and is comprehensively bowled by Stuart Clark, who is absolutely ecstatic. Pietersen left a gate the size of Marble Arch, you could probably drive Morris Minor through it. Paul Collingwood joins Andrew Strauss at the crease. Wicket maiden for Clark.

"Regarding the Pietersen at four or five debate. I was rather hoping we would not find out today, perhaps, with England losing no more than one wicket. A man can dream."Chris, Los Angeles

Batsman is out
1348: WICKET England 48-2 (Bell 2)
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. Ian Bell is trapped in his crease to Glenn McGrath and it had to happen - Rudi Koertzen finally raises his right finger. It's only the second lbw of the match. Scott was right, out strolls Kevin Pietersen at four, who gets off the mark with his third delivery. 49-2

1346: The Australians are absolutely dynamite in the field. Strauss thumps a beautiful straight drive off Clark, but gets nothing for his endeavours because Justin Langer swoops and stops the ball one-handed in that "Matthew Hayden" position just in front of the non-striker. Two runs from that over thanks to a Strauss leg-side flick.48-1

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

1342: Bell gets off the mark with a neat clip off his legs, but McGrath is on the money as ever keeping the "Shermanator" pinned back. 46-1

1338: Ooooh, Matthew Hayden just gets his fingertips in the gully to a wild Strauss cut off Stuart Clark, taking the pace off the ball which enables the left-hander to pick up two more runs. He plays the rest of the over with more circumspect. 44-1

1333: Most bowlers would be tearing their hair out in frustration if they got a similar number of play and misses as Glenn McGrath, but he just seems unbothered by it, judging by his reaction to yet another beauty which leaves Strauss feeling outside off stump. Which probably explains that fine head of hair he has. One run off the over. 42-1

Batsman is out
1326: WICKET England 41-1 (Cook 20)
Just as England notch up their highest opening partnership of the series after Alastair Cook pulls a Clark no-ball for four, the seamer has his revenge with a full delivery outside off-stump, which Cook plays onto his stumps via a thick inside edge.

Once again the momentum shifts firmly into Australia's favour just as England were setting themselves for a long stay in the middle. Hang on, deja vu... Ian Bell is then beaten all ends up by a beauty, but manages not to get a nick on it. I'm breaking out into the sweats as I write.

"Listen to Nasser Hussain and Kevin Pietersen WILL bat at number four for England today. There is a groundswell of opinion that KP will come in second drop, but no word from the people that matter - Flintoff and Fletcher."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1322: The pre-lunch tête-à-tête between McGrath and Strauss has stirred this particular battle up nicely. A lovely, fluent straight drive from Strauss picks up two runs, while Cook picks up another single earlier in the over. 36-0

"Steak. Raw."
Angus Fraser when asked by Jonathan Agnew about what Glenn McGrath had for lunch on TMS

1318: Stuart Clark bowls the first over after lunch and sees Strauss edge short of second slip. A wayward ball on leg stump deflects off the Middlesex left-hander's thigh pad, beating the diving Gilchrist to go race down to the boundary for four leg-byes. 33-0

Tremendous additions to the band names in song titles chat: Madness (Del, Harrow), Public Enemy (Martin Kershaw, Sheffield), Lo Fidelity All-Stars' Lo-Fi's in Ibiza (Tom, semi-conscious, Gateshead), Kris Kross (Pete in Manchester starting to develop insomnia thanks to the Ashes), Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden (Joe, Sheffield - "can you guess what type of music I like?), The Clash's Clash City Rockers (Jim, Tokyo), Beethoven's Fifth (Kevin, Italy - technically not a song Kev, but too good to leave out), Queen with Killer Queen and their version of the national anthem (Simon, Canada), Midnight Oil, Australian band unfortunately (Geoff Wilson), Scatman John and the Vengaboys (Matt, Southampton - "I must emphasise that I do not own any of these records"). Thanks for all your emails gang.

More band-in-song-title updates: "Talk Talk, Big Country (Chris, NZ) and Utah Saints (Ciaran, Sydney/Hull). Anymore anyone?

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

"Whilst it could have been a technical glitch with the printer, it COULD also be the case that there wasn't enough paper in the printer and that the Australian computer techie didn't put more in until the Englishman had wandered off with his two copies, thinking the other five would not print out. Maybe I'm just overtired and incoherent thoughts are beginning to take over...
Conor McQuillan, Dublin

"I am sitting in my dark, pokey, overpriced room and I must have worked up a £200 phone bill following the highlights on my mobile over the last four Tests. Crazy I know but I break into a cold I-am-weaning-myself-off-illicit-substances sweat when I don't have ball-by-ball updates. Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.
Eleanor, Japan

"'The only other group I can think of who got their name into a song were the KLF.'" What about Living In A Box?
Steve, Sussex

LUNCH

1233: A standard McGrath over batted back with obdurate defence by Strauss, but a spicy exchange between the pair after the fifth ball was a hell of a lot more interesting than the rest of the over after Strauss stops Pidge mid-ball because he was distracted. Two runs from a Strauss drive and umpire Koertzen calls lunch. 28-0

"I half expect Bill Murray to come out to bat for England as this is just Groundhog Day at the moment."
Chris, Cardiff

1228: Stuart Clark gets in a maiden as the Barmy Army launch into their signature song about themselves. The only other group I can think of who got their name into their own song were the KLF.26-0

1225: The openers are starting to look comfortable, both men pick up threes - Strauss with a thick outside edge through gully and Cook a whip off his hips behind square. 26-0

"Rudi must have strained a muscle in his right arm, he does not seem able to lift it."
Peter, Sydney

1220: Stuart Clark replaces Brett Lee, who hasn't really made that much of an impact in this series. A good over, but Cook picks up two runs with a confident push past the sprawling Symonds at mid-off.20-0

The plot thickens - an anonymous email to the TMS inbox about England's leaked bowling plans:
"The dossier was sent to a printer within the MCG by an England backroom staff member. England wanted seven copies printing; only two came out of the printer. I understand the Australian computer technicians said the data was lost, yet a few minutes later when the person responsible for printing had wandered off, the remaining copies popped out of the machine - and into the hands of the Aussies. No theft - just a technical blunder."

Ian Chappell
"I thought Strauss had looked a lot better getting to 50 than Hayden did. But Hayden managed to turn his into a 150."
Ian Chappell on TMS

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

1216: Another dead-eye accurate over from McGrath, who fulfils his overly play and miss quota with yet another jaffa to Strauss, followed by another a ball later. I wonder if Glenn needs any bowling strategies for dismissing batsman. But who needs tactics when you can put the ball in the corridor of uncertainty at will? 18-0

1212: Strauss hammers a straight drive into the opposite stumps, but picks up three runs with a back-foot forcing shot through extra cover off Lee. 18-0

1207: Strauss eases an on-drive wide of mid-on for three. However McGrath has one of the most plumbest-looking lbw appeals you will ever see against Cook turned down by Rudi Koertzen, which is reassuring as Rudi is just as tight with Australia as he has been with England. And to make Pidge's blood boil further, Cook guides two runs down to third man.15-0

1203: Cook rocks back and smashes a pull through mid-wicket off Lee, the ball wasn't that short either. Good shot, he's very confident in that area. Strauss nicks a single before Cook hits a very good looking back-foot forcing shot through cover for three. That stroke also took him to 1000 Test runs in only nine months. 9-0

1159: "Pidgeon" McGrath beats Strauss all ends up with yet another work of art - good length delivery on off stump which leaves the bat. And for good measure he does the same for the final delivery of the over, only this time it moves far too much to draw a snick. 2-0

1155: Another tight over from Lee, who draws a play and miss from Cook outside off stump, the type of shot that has led to his downfall in this series. Maiden. 1-0

1149: A typical Glenn McGrath over with the new ball, uncertain off-stump line, nagging length and palpable seam movement. But Cook manages to flick England's opening run down to fine leg. Cook only needs six more runs to become the first England batsman to score a 1000 runs in his maiden year. 1-0

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

1145: A very good opening over - a maiden - from Brett Lee, including a play and a miss with the final delivery. A tiny bit of swing too. 0-0

1139: Australia are laughing and smiling as they take the field. Unusually they go into a huddle, probably to talk about fishing or something. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook stride out to the wicket.

CHANGE OF INNINGS

Geoffrey Boycott
"On pitches like this, if the bowling is good, it's not easy to move the score along."
Geoffrey Boycott on TMS

Four wickets for Saj Mahmood, who continues to infuriate with his melange of belters and juicy half-volleys and long-hops. Chris Read has been stoic behind the stumps - I'm fairly certain he did not make any mistakes.

Batsman is out
1130: WICKET Australia 419 all out (McGrath 0)
Mahmood picks up his second wicket of the morning as Glenn McGrath guides a low catch to Ian Bell at gully. Despite his duck, McGrath gets a huge round of applause as he walks back to the changing room, leaving Shane Warne stranded on 40 not out. Australia now have a lead of 260.

Batsman is out
1120: WICKET Australia 417-9 (Clark 8)
Mahmood gets Clark pushing forward to a good delivery on the right line and length in the corridor of uncertainty and the seamer edges to Chris Read, who completes a simple catch for his sixth of the innings. Muted celebrations from England though as Warne had smote two consecutive fours off Mahmood earlier in the over, one a spanking off drive, the other a brutal pull.418-9

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

1117: Nothing of real note from that Harmison over, who concedes two singles. Clark and Warne are looking increasingly comfortable - a very worrying sign for England. 408-8

1112: An awkward bouncer for Clark (bowling plans say: Yorker - Early bumper essential - Exposes leg stump - High bwld%) but he manages to find two runs down to fine leg off Mahmood, who bowls the first wide of the innings with a useless bouncer. 406-8

"Given how the day ended for England yesterday, who was closest on the 'how long before I bang my head on the keyboard?' sweepstake?"Neil.
Unfortunately the tears prevented me from reading any emails, however I'm toying with a "what day and hour will this Test match be over?" sweep...

1107: Clark brings up the 400 with a pull shot over mid-on made the more bizarre as the ball was pitched wide outside off stump, but picks up two for his invention. Another two more runs, I have to keep reminding myself that these are two tail-enders. 402-8

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

1103: Mahmood does Warne over with an absolute beauty which leaves the batsman just outside off stump. But Blondie and Clark pick up a single each.398-8

1059: A steadier over from Harmison, two runs scored, including a single which opens Stuart Clark's scoring. 396-8

"For one I am happy that the England bowling plan was leaked, for without I would not believe that our bowlers had any plan whatsoever for the whole of the series to date."
Godders, Wolverhampton

"For Christmas I received a T-Shirt. This had the Australian bowling plans for the Ashes. The label says: Spin, then hang out to dry.'"
Ken Barker, Reading

"Another great crowd here today despite another overcast day. And a great start for England to get rid of Symonds. The visitors need to wrap up this innings quickly."
BBC Sport's Scott Heinrich at the MCG

1053: According to the leaked bowling plans document, England's plans for Shane Warne are:
"Throat bouncer (surprise) - Force back - Mix pace?? - Hits flat over mmid on v spin/sweeps flat in front of square - Extra cover close catch - Catch just in front of square."Needless to say Mahmood gives him two juicy wide long-hops outside off-stump, one which goes for four and another for three. And the throat ball? Gets hooked for four. Mahmood completely dissects Clark and somehow misses the stumps with his last ball of the over.394-8

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

Batsman is out
1045: WICKET Australia 383-8 (Symonds 156)
These magic fingers! Symonds' vigil at the crease finally comes to an end trying to play yet another mighty "Larry Dooley" over extra cover to a wide Harmison half-volley, but only succeeds in nicking through to Chris Read, who collects his fifth catch of the innings. Absolutely fantastic knock from Symonds, who acknowledges the applause from the MCG crowd. Stuart Clark comes to the crease. Wicket-maiden for the Durham Express.383-7

1043: Australia extend the lead to 223 with two easy singles, one each for Symonds and Warne. Yesterday morning emphasised the importance of an early strike, but when is it coming? 383-7

1039: Mr Script Writer will be furiously typing away on his keyboard to see whether he can fashion a first Test century for Warne at his home ground in the same match as he took his 700th wicket. An upper cut down to deep square leg from a short, wide Harmison delivery makes the job a little easier. 381-7

1035: Andrew Symonds takes a simple single with the first delivery of the day off Saj Mahmood, who has a decent shout for lbw against Shane Warne turned down by, surprise surprise, Rudi Koertzen. Warne manages to pull a ball he wasn't looking at for two before nurdling a single. Four runs off that over. 376-7

"How they got out remains some sort of a mystery. However, it has been revealed by the chap who found them they were on the floor of the members' bar. How it got there, goodness only knows."Jonathan Agnew on England's leaked bowling plans on TMS

"It would be a fitting tribute for Sir Shane Keith Warne to get the one thing he's yet to achieve in his illustrious career - a century. If Symonds can get a double century or more, there's every chance."
Matt, Birmingham

"Sitting in the office in Sydney, hoping that the level of mickey-taking from Aussie workmates is less than yesterday. Come on Harmy, finish off the tail!"
Alistair

1028: England walk out onto the lush MCG turf and immediately pack down for a huddle. I wonder if the contents of that huddle will be leaked to ABC?

Jonathan Agnew
"To take the game into tomorrow - there's a good chance the game could end today."
Jonathan Agnew when asked about England's hopes on BBC TV Ashes highlights

0945: Blue skies in Melbourne, which should - that's theoretically SHOULD - make batting easier than the first day, should England mop up the tail in the morning session.

Email the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on TMS@bbc.co.uk

SEE ALSO
Fourth Test, day one as it happened
25 Dec 06 |  The Ashes


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