Waugh poised for perfect revenge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waugh poised for perfect revenge

By Michael Crutcher 23/11/2002 08:22:49 PM Comments (0)

Steve Waugh is poised for perfect revenge on struggling England after its remarkable show of contempt for the Australian captain during the second cricket Test at the Adelaide Oval.

England captain Nasser Hussain treated Waugh like a tailender when he came out to bat, spreading his field to ensure Waugh took the strike instead of his heir apparent Ricky Ponting, whose 154 lit up the third day.

But Waugh was laughing last after Hussain was bowled on the final ball of the day, leaving the tourists in desperate trouble at 3-36 in their second innings.

They need another 174 runs to make Australia bat again so they should bow their heads and pray that forecast showers interrupt the last two days.

England came apart during a 12-over burst before stumps, losing Marcus Trescothick (zero) and Mark Butcher (four) after Australia had cantered to 9-552, built on a 242-run partnership between Ponting and Damien Martyn (95).

Waugh would have lapped up Hussain's late wicket because rarely has a player with his reputation been treated with such disrespect.

Waugh, with 9753 runs in his 153 Tests, watched as Hussain moved his field to ensure Ponting, then blazing away on 135, could take a single and put the 37-year-old on strike.

It's a tactic often used when a good batsman is paired with a tailender, and it's akin to a rookie boxer inviting Muhammad Ali to hit him when the former great was in his twilight years.

But the tactic almost worked because Waugh, who made a scratchy seven and 12 in the first Test, was dropped on one - by Hussain.

Waugh then batted with intent, rattling up 34 from 40 balls before falling for an English sucker punch, swatting all-rounder Craig White (4-106) to a diving Mark Butcher at point.

Ponting, who scored his third century in as many Tests, did not expect Hussain to so brazenly target the ageing Australian captain, who has struggled with the bat in the last year.

"It was a bit surprising because the ball wasn't that old at the time and they had two of their better bowlers on," Ponting said.

"I'm not sure what Nasser was thinking but I don't think it would have worried Stephen too much because he was busting to get on strike and get a few runs.

"No matter who is bowling or what stage of the game, he wants the strike so I don't think it would have embarrassed him."

Ponting eventually fell before Waugh after again stamping himself as the Test captain-in-waiting.

The 27-year-old admitted the innings wasn't among his best but it still lifted his average to 49.31 - within touching distance of the treasured 50 mark.

His partnership with Martyn pushed Australia almost out of reach but Martyn fell short of his second century in Adelaide when he was caught at short leg gully.

It was the first time Martyn had been dismissed in five Test innings in Adelaide and he now boasts an average of 305 at the ground.

With Adam Gilchrist (54) and even No.9 Andrew Bichel (48) rattling up runs, England was again moved on to death row with pace spearhead Andrew Caddick unable to bowl after tea because of a back complaint.

Australia also had its own problems because Matthew Hayden was unable to field because of haemorrhoids.

England at least had White taking wickets, including his brother-in-law Darren Lehmann for five, much to the disappointment of the Adelaide crowd.

White insisted England had to maintain a positive outlook even though it was heading for a 2-0 Ashes deficit.

"They've proved they're the best team in the world, all we can do is try to compete against them and control our game," White said.

"You work hard to try to do that, sometimes it's harder than others."

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