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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 10:39 GMT
First one-day final as it happened
ONE-DAY SERIES FINAL, MATCH ONE, MELBOURNE: England 253-6 (49.3 overs) beat Australia 252 (48.3 overs) by four wickets

A heroic unbeaten century from Paul Collingwood led England to a famous four-wicket final over win in the opening one-day final with Australia.

Two quick wickets fell and 25 were required from the final 18 balls but Collingwood, who made 106 in the win over New Zealand, hit successive fours.

He and Ian Bell had put on 133 after England, needing 253 for victory in the MCG day-nighter, had slumped to 15-3.

Earlier, Andrew Flintoff took 3-41 as Australia collapsed from 170-1.

LATEST ACTION

By Ben Dirs

ENGLAND INNINGS

"This is truly the stuff of legend. Years later, people will be talking about one of the most amazing performances ever! All hail Collingwood."
Christos Kapsalis in the TMS inbox

"'I'm going to cut all my hair off and post it to you if England win'. Donna T (see below), I wonder if you're still watching?"
Andrew, Lancs, in the TMS inbox

50th over: England 253-6
The Aussies keeping England waiting, bit of mind games from Punter. Nixon clips Bracken to backward-square and he scampers two. Two needed from five. Nixon digs out a blockhole ball and gets one for it. One needed. Colly hits the winning runs, a clip to mid-wicket and England have only gone and ruddy won! All rise for the Ginger, Mackem Nugget! Give that man a knighthood. His second consecutive one-day ton and he finishes on 120. England's players go berserk on the balcony, and good luck to them, that was a feisty performance and they've earnt some respect. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. Someone else is doing the next two games so that's me for this tour. Thanks for the memories and just glad it finished in such happy fashion. See you at the World Cup.

49th over: England 249-6
Nixon swings McGrath away for a couple before the MCG faithful think they've got their man, but it's bump ball into the hands of Pigeon. Nice clip off his legs by Nixon, he gets a couple for that. Nixon then skips down the wicket and pushes a single to mid-off. Colly slaps McGrath down the pitch for four and England are in the box seat, although there's no run from the final ball of the over. Four needed from the final over.

"I don't care if Colly's a Georgie, a Mackem, a Scouser or a Cockney. If he wins this match for England he'll be a hero."
Fran the Man in the TMS inbox

48th over: England 240-6
England needed that, Collingwood swinging Watson away for four, just beating the dive of Hogg, and he follows up with another pull to the fine-leg boundary. Ponting may have made a terrible mistake throwing the ball to Watson rather than Bracken. In know who I'd rather face. Nixon dabs into the off-side and scampers one before he is nearly run-out by Punter running to the striker's end. A direct hit and Nixon would have been toast. England need 13 from 12. This is rather exciting.

Wicket
47th over: WICKET - England 225-6
Dalrymple gone, dabbing the ball to gully, Clarke throwing to McGrath and Pigeon throwing down the stumps. Not sure whose call that was, but whoever's it was, it was a rubbish one. England starting to quiver. It's OK! Nixon is next in. Colly gives him the strike with a push into the covers. Nixon gets a nice, juicy full-bunger and the Leicestershire keeper whips him away for one to open his account. More blockhole stuff and Colly clips him to mid-off. Big lbw shout by McGrath, but it was sliding down Nixon's leg-side.

"Can I just point out that you have made a massive faux pas, Paul Collingwood is not a Geordie, he is from Shotton Colliery in Durham and this makes him more or less a Mackem."
Andy, South Shields, in the TMS inbox

"Message for Glenn McGrath: your powers are weak, old man"
Eddy, Liverpool, in the TMS inbox

Batsman is out
46th over: WICKET - England 222-5
Out goes Freddie, giving himself room and feathering Watson to Gilchrist behind the timbers. Dalrymple is next up the ramp and the Aussies are keeping him waiting. Watson gets one past his edge before the Middlesex man just fails to get one past the fielder at point. Risky single from Dalrymple, dabbing the ball down to Clarke at backward point. Clarke hits with his shie, but Dalrymple is home. 28 needed from 24 balls.

Batsman scores 100
45th over: England 221-4
Blockhole ball from Lee but Collingwood digs it out well for a single. Flintoff squeezes a couple down to fine-leg, McGrath doddering after it like Jimmy Saville going over Tower Bridge at the London Marathon. Colly gets away with a top-edged pull and that's his ton - two in a row for the Durham man. You little Geordie beauty. The bat is raised and the lid comes off. He's been out there a long time, it must smell funkier than Larry Blackmon's codpiece under there. No-ball from Lee and Flintoff clips him away for one. Collingwood gets another with a chip to mid-on.

44th over: England 211-4
Freddie charges Watson and steers him into the covers for one. Watson digs one in and it dies on Colly, who fans at it tamely outside off-stump. Flintoff makes room and smears Watson to long-off for a couple. Freddie gets up on tip-toes and gets another two into covers. Six from the over, England need 42 from 36. A few lusty hits from the England skipper would not go amiss.

"Cardinal Hume came to my school when I was four. I had my photo taken with him and it was printed in the local paper. I spent the next 13 years of my life convinced I met the Pope."
Robert Donnellan in the TMS inbox

43rd over: England 205-4
That's England's 200, Flintoff clipping Lee to mid-wicket for a couple. We have an invader! A steward goes after him and mows him down like the dog he probably is. Lee attempts a slower ball but doesn't quite get the line right and he follows up with another wide. Not clever that by Lee. Lee bounds to the crease like jello on springs, Collingwood dabs him down and England take another kamikaze run. Lee, following up, hits the stumps, but the TV umpire decides Flintoff just made it. Nine from the over, a valuable one for England.

"Please put an announcement on the radio saying that due to the bad weather the University of Exeter is closed so I can go home and watch the end! I'm stuck doing flipping finance rubbish..."
Andrew Fry in the TMS inbox

42nd over: England 196-4
Hogg gives Colly some room and the Durham man cuts for one. Flintoff tries to swing Hogg over mid-wicket, misses and just manages to get his back foot into the crease. Hogg's last over, no need to do anything silly. Hogg drops short and Freddie drags him away for a single. That's the end of Hogg, he finishes with 0-52.

41st over: England 194-4
Off-drive from Colingwood and that's a couple of well-scampered runs. Freddie runs Bracken away to short third-man. On-drive from Colly, all bottom hand. He really is a little nugget.

40th over: England 189-4
An ugly hoick from Colly brings him one and Freddie gets one with a nice sweep shot. Not since Sir Jack of Russellshire was in his pomp have I seen a shot as peculiar as that, top-edging an attempted paddle over his own head for one. England need 64 from 60 balls.

39th over: England 184-4
Colly drags Bracken away for a couple and the Durham grafter follows up with a chip over mid-on for four. Johnson it was with the despairing leap.

"I haven't been as excited as this since I was chosen to plant a silver jubilee tree in the Campion School gardens with none other than Cardinal Hume, the head of the Catholic church in Britain."
Stephen Brooks in the TMS inbox

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

38th over: England 175-4
Flintoff has had enough of prodding and poking against Hogg and launches him over wide long-on for a maximum. Brutal. Apologies, I miscounted below the overs below, but we're back on track. Freddie edges Hogg past Hayden at slip and gets three for it.

37th over: England 162-4
Flintoff is a bundle of nerves out there, almost playing on, trying to kick the ball away and then attempting the run. Colly needs to have a little word to his skipper. Flintoff gives McGrath the charge and ends up carving him down to third-man. A couple of attempted yorkers by McGrath are well dug out by Colly.

36th over: England 159-4
Umpire Harper has a rummage around in the box of balls and pulls out another new conker. Clarke has pulled up in the field, he has a history of back problems. He's having a rub-up in the dressing room. Collingwood makes room and carves Hogg away for a single but Freddie is very twitchy out there, lobbing a leading edge to sub fielder Michell Johnson and the fast bowler almost taking a spectacular diving catch in the covers.

35th over: England 156-4
Slight delay as McGrath and Punter get umpire Harper to have a look at the ball. Colly ducks underneath a Pigeon bumper before Colly pulls him away and England attempt a suicidal two. Gilchrist's throw looks to have bounced off McGrath's hands and Lee, also behind the stumps, removes the bails without the ball. Not out. The weird part is, Gilchrist could have had Collingwood at the other end if he'd whipped the bails off. Flintoff's on-drive drops just short of Ponting at mid-on before he plays another false-shot, the ball ballooning to long-on.

34th over: England 151-4
Freddie marches to the middle and he has stick around for a while here if England are going to do this. Colly clips Hogg away for one before Flintoff opens his account with an inside edge for a single. Flintoff feeling about like Mr Magoo against the spin of left-arm wrist-spin of Hogg and he misses out on a juicy full-bunger. Tense times, this is very evenly-balanced.

Wicket
33rd over: WICKET - England 148-4
Hayden misfields and Colly picks up a couple off Lee. Bell drives to mid-off for one. Colly dabs a lifter into the ground and Bell just beats Lee desperate attempt to deflect the ball onto the stumps. However, Bell is out next ball, Lee serving up a wicked inswinging yorker that beats the Warwickshire-man all ends up. Absolute jaffer.

"Are the England batsmen on the balcony thinking, 'yes, we can go out there and win this', or are they thinking, 'I don't really wnat to get out there?'"
Former England bowler Gus Fraser on TMS

32nd over: England 144-3
A new conker for the Aussie bowlers, the old one look like a rolled up sports sock. Bell whips Hogg away for one and Colly chips him to mid-on for a single. Bell skips down the pitch and tries to clip Hogg to mid-wicket but gets a leading edge - the ball lands safely in the covers and England scamper one. Hogg drops short, Colly pulls him away for a couple and players have a sup.

31st over: England 137-3
Thank you to the many who have pointed out that my "smearing toast" comment below was a simile and not a metaphor. Geez, what are you, English scholars? Bell dabs Lee down to third-man for one and digs out an inswinging yorker for a single. Bit of chin music for Bell puts him on his backside. England need 116 from 114 balls.

30th over: England 134-3
Six from Hogg's over, Colly and Belly still fighting their way out of the trenches.

"Brian May of Queen should probably put down the pen and stick with his guitar. His book, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe, has pretty pictures but the text needs editing."
Noel Williams, Seattle, in the TMS inbox

29th over: England 128-3
Misery Guts is back into the attack and Bell and Colly will want to send him over the edge here. Colly tucks him away for one. Lovely shot by Bell, just opening the face and running the ball away for one. That's the sort of shot I used to dream of playing as a young boy, before I discovered Corinne Drewery from Swing Out Sister. Aaah, that bob, so wonderfully symmetrical. Bell digs out a yorker, and a misfield from Bracken deepens McGrath's fug.

Batsman scores 50
28th over: England 123-3
Bell brings up his fifty with a sweep for one. Good, gritty knock. Colly clips Clarke to mid-on before Bell laps another delivery down to third-man, like someone smearing butter on a giant piece of toast. That is one of the worst metaphors I have ever used. Please accept my apologies.

27th over: England 119-3
Hogg bowls a much better line in this over, wide of off-stump and the two right-handers are restricted well here.

26th over: England 116-3
Australia have lost their intensity here and England pick off another five.

Batsman scores 50
25th over: England 111-3
That's fifty for Colly, clipping Hogg into the leg-side. Bell nurdles Hogg round the corner for another easy single and the England recovery gathers pace.

24th over: England 107-3
Clarke into the attack and Colly and Blle pick off his first over for six singles like a couple of gnarled old milkmaids squeezing juice from a trusty old cow.

"I've just built a snowmcGrath - he's already beginning to crumble. Now I'm wondering where to stick the carrot.

"Watch out Bangkok Stephen, sometimes Thai ladies, like a Plunkett over, come with unexpected extras."
Jonathan Tate in the TMS inbox

23rd over: England 101-3
Punter turns to Hogg and his left-arm Chinamen. Cheeky sweep from wide outside off-stump by Bell before Hogg does his best impression of McGrath after the umpire calls him for a leg-side wide. Creamy drive by Bell and he gets one for it to bring up England's ton. Six from Hogg's first over.

"I believe the fastest delivery by a 37-year-old involved an Indian takeaway to Jade Goody's house."
Jeff, Nottingham, in the TMS inbox

22nd over: England 95-3
Watson really not bowling too well here, continually straying down leg-side and being worked down to third-man. Six easy runs from the over.

"So Pigeon has spilled the pill,
And wishes young Belly ill,
You don't want an ill belly,
When you're live on the telly,
And you look like you're over the hill"
Peter, Cyprus, in the TMS inbox

21st over: England 89-3
Bell carves McGrath over backward- point and England scamper three. Collingwood then gives Pigeon the charge and rat-a-tats him straight over his head for a maximum. McGrath adopts the teapot - he is an extraordinarily angry man. In fact, I'd wager there is no-one angrier in the world at this particular moment in time.

"Sitting in a Bangkok bar with two Thai sisters and watching on Supersport. They are beginning to understand the game."
Bangkok Stephen in the TMS inbox

20th over: England 77-3
Colly loosens the shoulders, carting Watson over long-on for four, and he's doing a pretty good rebuilding job here. McGrath mis-fields, toppling to the floor like a stack of Jenga bricks, and Bell scampers two. Bell is almost run-out by Punter before Colly tickles Watson round the corner for four. Thirteen from that over, England going to the well.

19th over: England 64-3
Collingwood drags McGrath away for a couple and repeats the shot for one. Bell clips a McGrath no-ball off his legs for one and it's like Falling Down out there, McGrath looks like he's having a nervous breakdown.

18th over: England 56-3
Class shot by Bell, slapping Watson over long-off for four. That's England's first boundary for 56 balls. Oliver Brett, on report duty, has just wondered aloud whether McGrath's 86mph delivery in the previous over was the fastest ever bowled by a 37-year-old. Anyone have any stats on that?

"Brian May of Queen recently launched a scathing attack on a music review website, after the reviewer said new boy Mika looked like a 'diseased Leo Sayer'. Makes the Ian Bell 'timid little creature' comment seem a little less harsh."
Mark, Seattle, in the TMS inbox

17th over: England 49-3
Bell dabs McGrath to third man for another single and every shot the Warwickshire man plays off him will be like a little dagger in the heart. His mood will be darkened further by a return by Hodge that hits him on the noggin. He then beats Collingwood with a good, lifting delivery. Liquorice allsorts from Pigeon.

"Bell should wrap his bat round McGrath's neck, that would shut him up, miserable old man..."
An angry Mazza via text

Text the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on 84040 (from the UK only)

16th over: England 45-3
A beach ball has been popped by one of the Fun Taliban. They'll be banning kite-flying at the MCG next. Bell moves to 24 with a flick to mid-on before Collingwood moves to 14 with a work to square-leg. Players take drinks. They must be parched, poor mites.

"If we'd let Australia score a little more, they might not have been so cross with us. Surely that would have been a better tactic?"
Tom, Geneva, in the TMS inbox

15th over: England 41-3
Bell steers McGrath away for a single and the bowler makes a bit of contact on his follow-through. He's still filthy about that dropped catch. He looks like someone who's just discovered he's sat on a blob of chewing gum on his way to a job interview. Bell runs him away for another single.

14th over: England 37-3
Watson is thrown the ball and Collingwood pushes him straight down the ground for one. England crawling along like an asthmatic sloth dragging an American-style fridge-freezer.

"I'm going to cut all my hair off and post it to you if England win."
Donna T in the TMS inbox

"I bet a packet of Space Raiders on England to win the last game against NZ, and I won. So today, with England at 15-3, I went mad and did it again. I think I have squandered my winnings."
David Mitchell in the TMS inbox

13th over: England 36-3
McGrath is thrown the ball and told to makes amends for his horror show in the last over. He looks ruddy annoyed and spits some fruity barbs at Bell after chopping him in half with the final ball of the over. Temper, temper. Apparently Stuart Law referred to Bell as "that timid little creature" in a newspaper recently. He is as God made him, you swine.

"Please someone stop Arlo White using saying 'a very good morning to you'. The acceptable version is easy to remember - it is simply good morning'. Anything more elaborate is just silly."
Mike Plant in the TMS inbox

12th over: England 35-3
Bell looks in rancid nick at the moment, he hasn't really timed anything yet. He carves Bracken over the top for a couple. McGrath then shells an absolute dolly, Bell swinging Bracken away to mid-wicket and the old fella making a dog's dinner of it. Happy birthday Pigeon..what is he now, 73?

11th over: England 31-3
One for Collingwood to square-leg. Bell given some width by Lee Boy but misses out with a mis-timed cut. Leg-side wide from Lee and Bell flips him away for one to short fine-leg.

"I can't take any more, I'm going outside to build a snowman. And I bet he won't melt away as quickly as the England top order."
Nick, Depressedville, in the TMS inbox 10th over: England 28-3
Thick inside edge from Collingwood and he gets one for it. Bell gets one for a flick to mid-wicket and England are rattling along at 2.6 an over. Rousing.

"Bracken has got a white cricket ball and a white towel flapping about his waste and there's no way in the world I would let him bowl to me like that."
Aussie legend Ian Chappell

9th over: England 25-3
Bell scampers a quick single and Colly gets one for a tuck to third-man. Flagging now, really flagging. Just two from the over.

"Did I just read you saying that Strauss' was a good call? Wash your mouth out young man. That shot had more edge than the Grand Canyon!"
Disgruntled Tom, Sydney, in the TMS inbox

8th over: England 23-3
Collingwood has a wild, flailing drive at Bracken. Loose. It's pretty simple this, either one of these rattles up a ton, or England are dead. Collingwood has a dart, lofting Bracken over long-on for four.

7th over: England 19-3
Lovely stroke by Bell, clipping Lee off his legs, but Hodge fields well at mid-wicket to save a run. Bell relieves some of the pressure with an outside edge for four. Very tense.

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

"I wouldn't say all of England's work with the ball has been undone, but 75-80% of it has been."
Former Engand bowler Gus Fraser on TMS

Batsman is out
6th over: WICKET - England 15-3
Strauss is next in and he looked in very decent nick last time out. Saying that, he's looked in pretty decent nick the whole tour. Sorry...Bracken traps him in front, and that decision was bang on. England in a sorry state, Collingwood of Durham next in.

Wicket
5th over: WICKET - England 14-2
Dreamy cover-drive by Joyce - shades of Gower. Four for it. But he's then out in very Goweresque manner, chipping a shot straight to McGrath at mid-on. Very tame, and England are in a whole lot of bother.

4th over: England 10-1
Bell times Bracken through the covers for a couple and Punter positions himself at short extra-cover. Bell glides Bracken down to third-man for one. Joyce scampers a single, easily beating Hussey's direct hit. Bell then plays a glorious pull shot for four. Very aggro by Bell, like seeing a choir boy rip off his cassock and lay out a troublemaker at the back of his church.

Out for a duck
3rd over: WICKET - England
Australia have the breakthrough, Loye trapped in front by Lee for nought. It looks like umpire Harper has made another ricket, that was going down leg. He made a shocker to dismiss Hodge earlier on. Bell is off the mark with a clip into the on-side. Joyce plays a loose drive as the Mexican wave goes up. Where's the Fun Taliban? I thought enjoying yourselves was strictly forbidden in Australian grounds? An uppish drive by Joyce, the ball falling just short of the fielder at point.

2nd over: England 1-0
Bracken getting some nice shape away from the left-handed Joyce. Not sure if our e-mail is working at the moment, can someone send in a tester? Joyce goes fishing and is beaten and it's a maiden over from Bracken.

1st over: England 1-0
Joyce gets a thick outside edge on Lee's first delivery and gets off the mark with a tuck off his legs for one. Fine stop by Clarke at point to deny Loye a single. Lee follows through with his final delivery and gives the Lancashire man the stare. Silly Billy.

0730 GMT: Loye and Joyce make their way to the middle and it will be the latter to face the first delivery.

AUSTRALIA INNINGS

"After throwing my England shirt to the back of my wardrobe so hastily after losing the Ashes I'am about to risk biological poisoning by retrieving it."
Dan Giles, Western Australia, in the TMS inbox

"Great comeback so far. Freddie's doing great. Loved the comment 'if they think they've got enough runs they should declare' from Ian Chappell on TMS. Keep it up boys, I'm staying up."
Chris, California, in the TMS inbox

Wicket
49th over: WICKET - Australia 252
One for Bracken before Freddie pulls out of his approach. But McGrath is castled next up, Freddie getting a ball to duck under Pigeon's bat. That is a tremendous comeback by England, Australia were 170-1 at one stage and staring down the barrel at 300 plus. I'm off to close my eyes for 10 minutes, as my dad always used to say.

Wicket
48th over: Australia 250-9
Watson chucks his wicket away, chipping Mahmood straight to Lee at mid-wicket. This has turned into a spectacular, almost English, collapse by Australia and McGrath is last man in. England will fully expect to dig out either him or Bracken before 50 overs are up. Bracken nicks the strike with a single.

"Mancatting sounds like something out of Jungle Book. I think what you're referring to (below) is 'Mankading, named after Mankad the ex-cricketer."
Mark Bonsall in the TMS inbox

Wicket
47th over: WICKET - Australia 248-8
Three dot balls from Freddie before Lee has a wild and windy woosh at one and misses again. And the build-up of pressure has the desired effect as Lee is run-out from the final ball. And guess who it is again - yep, Colly hitting from side on from his position at backward-point. One of the great fielding displays from the Durham man.

Wicket
47th over: WICKET - Australia 248-7
Hogg is out, flaying Flintoff straight to Bell at short extra-cover. Lee is next man in and he can really give it some tap on his day.

46th over: Australia 248-6
Lovely shot by Watson, making room and caressing Plunkett through the covers for a couple. He steps away again and steers Plunkers away for one. Hogg gets one for a mis-timed cut and there are just five from the over. England's bowlers have done very well indeed here.

45th over: Australia 243-6
Watson on-drives Flintoff for one and Hogg picks up a single with a push into the covers. Watson tucks one of his hip for another single. Lots of singles at the moment and they're talking about mancatting on TMS. Funnily enough, Ian Chappell, whose brother once bowled underarm in a one-dayer, sees nothing wrong with it.

44th over: Australia 239-6
Watson opens his account with a drive to extra-cover. Plunkers serves up a leg-side wide before Colly almost runs out Hogg - not sure they should be taking so many liberties with him. Watson collects one with a push to mid-on.

Batsman is out
43rd over: WICKET - Australia 229-6
Hussey out, feathering a catch to Nixon behind the sticks. Freddie's first wicket and Mahmood, who shelled Hussey a couple of overs ago, is one of the first to congratulate him. Hogg very nearly perishes first ball, slicing just past gully, and is beaten attempting to slash the final delivery.

Batsman is out
43rd over: WICKET - Australia 229-5
Another crackerjack piece of fielding by Collingwood, gathering the ball at short extra-cover and running-out Clarke with a direct hit. Very lazy from Clarke, he didn't even bother to lunge.

42nd over: Australia 229-4
The ball has been changed, the old one looked like a mouldy old King Edward. Plunkers back into the attack and Hussey eases him through extra-cover for a couple. Hussey is then shelled by Mahmood at mid-on, a pretty straightforward drop falling to his knees. You don't want to be dropping Hussey like that, he's quite likely to grind your nose in it.

41st over: Australia 222-4
Skills from Freddie, a few keepy-uppies as the field falls into place. Clarke gets one from an inside edge and Hussey gets one for a delicate glide down to third-man. Clarke drops one into the covers and scampers a single, but that was another tight over from Flintoff.

40th over: Australia
Collingwood back on and Clarke has the lid on now. It's pretty much top-and-run stuff now as Australia get ready to put the pedal to metal. Eight from the over and England need to root one of these out and sharpish.

"Funny how his county Northants decided Panesar can't play one-day cricket, but he's on his way to the World Cup and will be a very important player."
Former England bowler Gus Fraser on TMS

39th over: Australia 211-4
Five very easy singles and Panesar finishes with figures of 2-44 from his 10 overs. Good one-day bowler Monty, not sure why anyone decided he wasn't. Odd.

"There is a young man named Dalrymple, who makes batting look rather simple, for his dibbly-dobbler, is as easy to clobber, as squeezing the goo from a pimple."
Peter, Cyprus, in the TMS inbox

38th over: Australia 206-4
Hussey is next in and he's off the mark straightaway. Clarke takes Australia past 200 with a square-drive before Hussey sweeps Dalrymple for his first four. For opponents, there can be no more irritating player than Hussey. Full-bunger from Dalrymple and Hussey flicks him away for a single.

Batsman is out
37th over: WICKET - Australia 196-4
Hodge (5) out, Panesar getting him lbw. Umpire Harper decided the ball hit Hodge in line with the stumps, but I'm not so sure. In fact, that was a ruddy awful decision, it was also missing off-stump. Monty goes into his crazy little jig, he's like some Sikh morris dancer.

"Lovely fellow, great cricketer, mediocre captain. Fred must learn from Vaughan. Attacking fields yield wickets. Force the errors. Don't wait for them."
B-G, Bolton, via text

36th over: Australia 193-3
Hodge rocks back and cuts Dalrymple away for a couple before repeating the shot for one. The becapped Clarke skips down the pitch and slaps Dalrymple over long-off for a maximum. Someone tell me something funny, I'm getting a bit sleepy now.

35th over: Australia 183-3
Just seen a replay of that run-out and it was actually out by a fraction. Clarke and Hodge knock off a few singles before Clarke is beaten twice by Panesar flashing outside the off-stump.

Wicket
34th over: WICKET - Australia 180-3
Bully Boy is out, attempting to dump Dalrymple over wide long-on and Mahmood, cool as a cumber, pouching the catch on the rope. Nice take that by the Saj Man. Hodge, a Victorian, is next man in and is nearly run-out without facing, Collingwood with the throw from short-over and Nixon whipping off the bails. Very tight that, Hodge getting the benefit of the doubt. Hodge off the mark with an off-side push.

33rd over: Australia 179-2
Sorry, I somehow managed to miss one of Dalrymple's overs. Easily done. Clarke has a thrash at Panesar and the ball just misses his off-stump. Three singles from the over.

32nd over: Australia 176-2
Four more easy runs for Australia and there's not much pressure being applied here by Flintoff's England.

Wicket
31st over: WICKET - Australia 170-2
Dalrymple being milked like a faithful old cow and England desperately need another wicket here or they could be on the end of a fearful thrashing. Cometh the hour, cometh the men! Punter has a slash at Monty and Collingwood takes a stunning catch at short cover, diving to his left and snaffling it left-handed. Rise and shine and give Jah his glory, glory. Sad news from Paul Bibby that Patrick Fyffe, who played Brackett to George Logan's Hinge, passed away in 2002. Clarke is the next man in and he's off the mark with an easy single.

29th over: Australia 163-1
Punter skips down the pitch like a spring lamb and cracks Panesar to the long-on boundary. Hayden then should have been run out by a country mile, Dalrymple throwing to Panesar at the non-striker's end and Panesar failing to gather the ball. Not a clever throw by Dalrymple, and pretty clumsy stuff by Monty. England cannot afford to make mistakes like that.

"There's been too much concentration on containment rather than trying to get wickets and that doesn't work against good teams."
Aussie legend Ian Chappell

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28th over: Australia 154-1
Dalrymple back on and Ponting off-drives him for one. Hayden gives Dalrymple the charge and slices his drive out to third-man. Ponting nicks two and perhaps Plunkett and Dalrymple should have combined better and run him out. Five from the over.

27th over: Australia 149-1
Hayden clips Freddie off his legs for a couple and Punter gets one for a drive to mid-off. The MCG filling out a bit, the locals obviously knocking off work. Six very easy runs from the over and I'm, rather pessimistically, predicting 350 for Australia.

"The solution for England is very simple - it starts with a 'w' and ends with an 's'."
Tim Lane on TMS

26th over: Australia 143-1
Punter eases Mahmood through the covers for four before pulling him away for another boundary. Inbetween, he exchanges verbals with Nixon behind the stumps. I wish Trapalot would pipe down, much more of that and Punter will go absolutely berko. Hayden tries to swing Mahmood away to leg, gets rapped on the pads and runs a leg-bye.

Batsman scores 50
25th over: Australia 133-1
Hayden gives it some humpty, just clearing the two fielders at mid-off. Hayden then carts Flintoff one bounce into the fence at deep mid-wicket. Bully Boy always has a dart at Freddie, must be some sort of macho thing. I reckon he's the sort of bloke who'd take his top off and challenge people to arm wrestles down the pub. Punter moves to fifty with a drop into the on-side. That came from 57 balls.

"Thank you so much for mentioning Hinge and Brackett. Ugh. Another memory I'd tried hard to lose! Still, makes the cricket seem a lot better."
Ade Brooks, Dallas, in the TMS inbox

24th over: Australia 122-1
Mahmood is tickled round the corner for a couple before Ponting strokes one to mid-off. Haydos nicks a single and it's another pretty decent over by Mahmood.

"The way England have been handling the ball recently, perhaps it would be more appropriate to refer to the white ball as a 'toilet mint'."
Steve, California, in the TMS inbox

23rd over: Australia 118-1
Just spotted a couple of Aussie WAGs in the crowd and I wouldn't kick them off my sofa for eating crumbly biscuits. Flintoff bowls a warm-up delivery to Panesar, and rather like used to happen a lot at school, the ball bounces through his legs. Touch embarrassing. Punter and Hayden exchange singles before Ponting lofts one to mid-wicket, the ball dropping just short of the fielder running in.

"The Aussies have started well but I can't help feeling they are a bit slow. Say they end up at 300-4, I would say England have a good chance if Loye comes good and Joyce gets another ton."
Toby Darling, Winchester, in the TMS inbox

22nd over: Australia
Players take a boot/drinks break. One of Hayden's size 18s must be chafing a bit. Dalrymple into the action and his first ball is a ropey old wide. Dalrymple nearly gets a caught and bowled, Hayden closing the face, getting a leading edge and the ball falling just short of the Middlesex man. Tidy stuff from Dalrymple, just two from the over.

21st over: Australia 112-1
I tell you who you never see any more - Hinge and Bracket. For any non-Brits reading, they were a couple of chaps who used to dress as Victorian women, drink tea and eat cakes and stuff. Strangely for a comedy act, I used to find them really quite depressing as a young boy. Punter slams Panesar over mid-on for four before tucking him round the corner for a couple. Thought he was supposed to have a dicky back?

20th over: Australia 103-1
Good variation by Colly, beating Hayden with what looked like a cheeky off-cutter. Ponting takes Australia past 100 with a drive into the covers for a couple and follows up with another two to backward-square.

"Michael could be related. I know that when I am in a pub in the UK and thirsty, I claim him as a cousin. When lonely, he is my dad."
Rob Palin in the TMS inbox

Batsman scores 50
19th over: Australia 98-1 Hayden turns Panesar off his legs for his fifty, but it's another on the money over by Monty, just three from the over.

18th over: Australia 95-1
Ponting punches Colly down the ground and the bowler very nearly runs out Hayden with a slight deflection onto the stumps. Hayden nurdles one into the on-side for one. Good, tight over by the Durham man.

17th over: Australia 92-1
Hayden and Ponting exchange singles and there are just two from the over. Monty giving the old reins a yank.

"Us Aussies refer to it simply as a 'pill'...red, white or otherwise."

Adam Mackie in the TMS inbox

16th over: Australia 90-1
England aren't taking the powerplay and Collingwood is into the attack. Ponting opens the face and glides him down to third-man for one. Rob Palin (below) - coincidentally, I went to an evening with Michael Palin with my old man last night. What a lovely chap he is. Not related? Hayden pushes Colly into the covers for a couple.

"Allow a colonial to educate you in proper taxi speech protocol. Once the cab-driver begins speaking, simply start grunting in a neutral tone every 30-60 seconds or so. If by remarkable chance the driver says something interesting just refine the tone of the grunt. Else continue standard grunts until end of trip. Best of all, with practice you can easily grunt while dozing."
Rob Palin, Toronto, in the TMS inbox

15th over: Australia 85-1
Freddie has turned to Panesar and I believe he came on to the strains of Faithless' Insomnia. Who'd have thought it? Monty into his Top Shop trance. Haydos and Punter milk Monty for five singles and a couple. Bit easy that, but they are playing on a pitch the size of Clapham Common. Players take drinks.

"A marshmallow? A mint? Looks like a big Extra Strong Mint to me."
Ashley Hamilton, Sydney, in the TMS inbox

14th over: Australia 78-1
A rare full-bunger from Freddie and Hayden slams him straight down the ground for four. Hayden is very much the sadistic prison guard to Ponting's governer in the Shawshank Redemption. Ponting drops one into the covers and Joyce juts misses with a shie. The Aussie skipper may well have been out if Joyce had hit.

"A white cricket ball? How about a lychee. Peeled, of course..."
James Bridie in the TMS inbox

13th over: Australia 72-1
Ponting tucks Plunkers round the corner for one before Hayden off-drives for a couple. Ponting then piles into one, launching Plunkett to the wide long-on fence.

"Can't we just put a cardboard cut-out of Vaughany on the pitch, we seem so much relaxed with him in the side."
Geoff, Brisbane, in the TMS inbox

12th over: Australia 64-1
Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire is cranked up on the wireless and Freddie grabs the conker. You know you call a normal ball a 'cherry'? Any suggestions as to what you might call a white cricket ball in the vernacular? Two singles from the over and it's a typically miserly start by the England skipper.

"Please remind these Aussies that we are the whingers not them. They already have the Ashes and the sunshine, so could they please not try to take that tag from us too with their comments on Bumberg and the Brave song."
Andrew, Spain, in the TMS inbox

11th over: Australia 62-1
A rather rickety drive by Ponting but he gets three for it down to mid-wicket. Hayden nudges a single before Ponting plays the shot of the day so far, and absolute doozy of a square-drive. That's given me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

"Noticing your cabbie question has been ignored, I will give you my taxi etiquette. As long as he is a black cabbie he is free to waffle. However, in a minicab I think you can tell them to pipe down - I think there has to be a level of respect for someone who has done The Knowledge."
Luke Smith, Sydney, in the TMS inbox

10th over: Australia 54-1
Ponting brings up Australia's fifty with a push to backward point. Not sure there should have been a single there, went straight to Dalrymple. Haydos drives into a gap on the off-side and grabs a couple and the are four from the over.

9th over: Australia 49-1
Ponting and Hayden exchange a few singles. Hayden is rapped on the pad by Plunkett but umpire Harper brushes off the rather half-hearted lbw appeal. Another wide by Plunkers, but it's pretty on the money for the most part.

"England might be a little bit over-hyped at the moment, you can see that in a couple of the returns to the keeper. They might need to calm down."
Aussie legend Ian Chappell on TMS

"How dare you insult the people of Bundaberg. You, sir, are a scoundrel and a scallywag, and I would like to box your ears..."
Andrew Stevenson in the TMS inbox

8th over: Australia 46-1
Ponting eases Mahmood to wide long-on and Panesar runs the two miles to retrieve the ball. Three from Punter. Hayden carves Mahmood away for one before Ponting plays an expansive, uppish drive and the ball drops just short of Bell in the covers. Not really a chance.

7th over: Australia 40-1
Hayden pushes a single to mid-on and Ponting drags Plunkett round the corner for a couple. England have slowed the Aussies up after a rather alarming start.

"Dear Ben Dires, If you don't want to be called a numskull, or even numbskull, then perhaps you could learn the word 'arvo' rather than 'alvo'. English is spoken differently throughout the English speaking world, and these days Australians, who are typically very hospitable people, do not really appreciate (any more than do Canadians or Americans) having the English telling them how to speak or spell. The days for empire are well and truly over. Perhaps your own name would be better spelled Ben Dares, or even Ben Dire-S-traits if this is the best humour you can manage? As it is, good luck for today's game - you will need it."
Rod Crook in the TMS inbox

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"Advance Australia Brave! I love it! Anyway, much more appropriate - we're hardly fair, except in skin, but we're certainly brave - especially in view of increasing lack of water."
Fiona, Sydney, in the TMS inbox

Wicket
6th over: WICKET - Australia 32-1
No slips already, but two short covers. Collingwood and Strauss the two men in the firing line, but Hayden opens the face and guides Mahmood away to third man for three. And England have the breakthrough, Mahmood sending down a slower ball, Gilchrist going for the flay over the top and chipping a simple catch to Flintoff at mid-off. Ponting is next in and he almost perishes first ball, skewing a leading edge to just in front of a lunging Dalrymple at point. Punter off the mark from the final ball of the over, a glorious off-drive on the up. Sweet as a nut.

5th over: Australia 29-0
Four from the over, Plunkers keeping things reasonably tight.

"Why, why, why do the England management keep Mahmood playing? They go to all the trouble of flying Broad in from India only to not play him. I'm beginning to fear the worse already."
Al, Sydney, in the TMS inbox

4th over: Australia 25-0
Gilchrist almost decapitates Collingwood with a meaty drive but only gets one for it. Mahmood tries a slower one but drags it down leg-side and gives up a wide. Another wide from the wayward paceman, a half-tracker ballooning high over Hayden's head, but otherwise it's a decent over, three from it.

"Don Estelle sang Whispering Grass. I only remember because I saw him busking in Croydon once down on his luck."
Hot Teen, Singapore in the TMS inbox

3rd over: Australia 22-0
Gilchrist swings Plunkers away for a few. Just spotted Stuart Broad in the outfield, he looks about 9. Another savage drive for four by Hayden and he's slipping into full bully-boy mode. Plunkers plonks one in short and Hayden carves him away for his fourth boundary of the morning. Hammer time.

2nd over: Australia 11-0
Mahmood's first ball is over-pitched and Haydos laces a cover-drive away for four. I'm wearing it after my Australia anthem faux pas. John Pinkerton from Bundaberg has just pointed out that I'm a "numbskull". I don't really know Bundaberg - is it stuck in some kind of 1950s time warp? Four dot balls from Mahmood before Hayden repeats the cover-drive and once again gets four for it. Eight from the over.

1st over: Australia 3-0
Not many people in at the MCG, but I'm guessing there will be a steady trickle through the turnstyles as the locals knock off work on Friday 'alvo. Gilchrist works Plunkett's first ball off his pads for a single. Thanks to Paul Goldsmith for pointing out that it's Advance Australia Fair, not Advance Australia Brave. Sorry, still working off the cobwebs. Hayden off the mark before Plunkers bowls the first wide. Bit harsh from umpire Harper, Glichrist's flash went right underneath the ball.

0315 GMT: Players are out and England are huddling. Gilchrist and Hayden make their way to the middle to London's Calling by The Clash. Not sure what that's all about.

"Call me an old pessimist but I fear England's chances of winning have decreased quite considerably as a result of losing the toss."
Dan, Sydney, in the TMS inbox

"England will miss Vaughan hugely. As a captain in Brisbane he was magnificent. Is it a coincidence that two of Flintoff's best performances in this series have been when he was not captain?"
Gus Fraser on TMS

"I am in Russia keeping check of the scores on my Blackberry. You will not believe how tough it is to keep informed. Come on England, give me something to treasure from this trip."
Steve, Tolyatti, Russia

0305 GMT: God Save The Queen is belted out by some Aussie pop star or other. Can't get used to anthems at cricket, something not quite right about it. The bloke singing Advance Australia Fair sounds a bit like the chap who used to sing Whispering Grass on It Ain't Arf Hot Mum.

"It's not ideal when you lose your captain but we're on a little bit of a roll, playing good cricket and we don't want to let ourselves down."
England skipper Andrew Flintoff

0255 GMT: Flintoff has lost the toss and England have been asked to bowl first by Aussie skipper Ponting. Australia have drafted in all-rounder Shane Watson and spinner Brad Hogg. In the two previous games in Melbourne, the team batting second have won. Both times, however, that team was Australia.

0250 GMT: Quite sleepy this morning - wanted to have a kip on the way in but I had one of those cabbies who wouldn't stop chirping, like a taxi driver equivalent of Paul Nixon. Which begs the question - is it bad form to tell a cabbie to pipe down because you want to catch a few zzzzs?

0245 GMT: Early birds Tony Doyle and Adam Rope have just spotted that our summary was a load of old rubbish and was stating that England had "started well in Sydney". The game starts in half an hour and it's in Melbourne. Where's that work experience monkey?

0242 GMT: Hello you. Who'd have thought it this time last week - England in the final against Australia? Well, it's happened somehow and I would laugh and laugh and laugh if England ended up winning it. Mal Loye is in for injured skipper Michael Vaughan and that's the only change for the visitors.

Text the BBC Sport website and the TMS team on 84040 (from the UK only)

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

SEE ALSO
England hero delighted with form
09 Feb 07 |  England
Ponting laments batting collapse
09 Feb 07 |  England
Australia v England photos
09 Feb 07 |  Cricket


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