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   Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 08:39 GMT
Aussies rise to the occasion
Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden
Langer and Hayden put on 195 for the first wicket
Matthew Hayden said it was a special experience to score a century in the Boxing Day Test, an event steeped in tradition on the Australian sporting calendar.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground was packed to the brim and fans were not disappointed as Australia piled on 356 runs for the loss of only three wickets.

I think we actually bowled well today

Graham Dilley
England bowling coach
Both Hayden and fellow opener Justin Langer hit triple-figure scores to lay a concrete foundation for the hosts.

"It really is special to play well in the Boxing Day Test," said Hayden, who also scored a ton in the corresponding Test last year against South Africa.

"Once again the Melbourne crowd hasn't let us down and I just really enjoyed the whole experience.

"The Boxing Day Test represents a unique opportunity for all Australians and this is an event.

"If there is any ground in the world where you do feel on a stage it is here."

Hayden paid tribute to Aussie skipper Steve Waugh hit an unbeaten 62, who has come under pressure to retire following the Ashes.

"Steve's come out today to a huge crowd that loves watching him bat and he wouldn't want it any other way.

Waugh and Butcher shake hands
Butcher (right) was unsure whether he had caught Waugh

"He's a true champion and he hasn't let us down again."

Mark Butcher gained praise for turning down a catch that could have dismissed Waugh for 56.

The home skipper edged the second new ball to the slips off Andy Caddick but Butcher conceded that he was not sure whether he had made the catch.

The decision was referred to the video umpire Darrell Hair but Waugh and Butcher shook hands, agreeing the batsman should stay at the crease.

"It's terrific to see that - the handshake was reflective of the way everyone feels the game should go," Hayden said.

An injury to wicketkeeper-batsman Alec Stewart meant England were forced to abandon their policy of playing five bowlers.

Craig White
White was the pick of England's bowlers

It meant an added burden for the quartet of Andy Caddick, Steve Harmison, Craig White and Richard Dawson

But England bowling coach Graham Dilley was proud of his charges after another tough day in the field.

"You look at the scoreboard and they have got a lot of runs for not many wickets but I think we actually bowled well today," he said.

"We had lot better discipline, a lot better line.

"There were patches in their innings when they took it away from us but they are great players and they are going to do it.

"Essentially it is a flat pitch and they played well but we bowled better than we have done in previous Test matches."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 Australia batsman Matthew Hayden
"We really found our momentum after lunch"
All the reports from the Test match

Day five

Day four

Day three

Day two

Day one

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Links to more The Ashes stories are at the foot of the page.


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