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  Monday, 30 December, 2002, 02:04 GMT
Aussies hold off brave England
Adam Gilchrist
Gilchrist celebrates hitting the winning runs
4th Test, Melbourne, day five: Australia 551-6 dec & 107-5 beat England 270 & 387 (following on) by five wickets
Australia lead series 4-0

Australia sealed victory in Melbourne but were pushed every inch of the way by a passionate England side on the fifth day.

Chasing just 107 to win, Australia wobbled over the line after losing five wickets in a dramatic morning session.

England attacked with an appetite sadly lacking in previous Tests as demons of past failed chases came back to haunt the Aussies.

Steve Harmison and Andy Caddick bowled brilliantly in tandem to fluster Australia, but ultimately England ran out of runs to defend.

The day started ominously, with Matthew Hayden falling first ball to a good catch by substitute Alex Tudor in the deep.

Steve Harmison
Harmison bowled without luck in a unique over

Australia then looked on course for an easy win as Ricky Ponting raced to 30 with an array of delightful pull shots off both bowlers.

But England roared back into contention when Harmison removed the right-hander and Damien Martyn in the same over.

Twice in recent times - against South Africa in 1994 and England in 1997 - Australia have failed to chase similarly meagre totals.

And Harmison raised the possibility of another collapse when Ponting gloved behind and Martyn fell searching aimlessly outside his off-stump.

Compelling day

But nothing prepared observers for the bedlam that ensued in Harmison's sixth over.

Australia captain Steve Waugh was twice given a life, first edging behind to a sharply rising delivery that umpire Dave Orchard was not required to rule over with no England player appealing.

Next ball Waugh on-drove a no-ball straight into the waiting hands of Nasser Hussain at short extra cover.

He finished the over with a boundary, but was soon on his way when again failing to handle a short ball and edging Caddick to Mark Butcher in second slip.

First-innings double centurion Justin Langer then fell rather contentiously lbw to Caddick, but with just 17 more runs required Australia had victory in sight.

Adam Gilchrist and Martin Love saw Australia home, but not in the manner many expected on a compelling final day.

Australia remain on course for a first Ashes whitewash since 1920/1, with the fifth Test starting in Sydney on 2 January.

England may have lost this encounter, but they will take a head of steam to the SCG after finally competing with their hosts.


Australia: Steve Waugh (capt), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Martin Love, Adam Gilchrist, Stuart MacGill, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath.

England: Nasser Hussain (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan, Mark Butcher, Robert Key, John Crawley, James Foster, Craig White, Richard Dawson, Andrew Caddick, Steve Harmison.

Umpires: Russell Tiffin, Dave Orchard.

Match referee: Wasim Raja.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Agnew
"An extraordinary morning of cricket"
England captain Nasser Hussain
"It was very enjoyable"
Australia's Justin Langer
"It was a great game"
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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