Aussies set to retain Ashes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussies set to retain Ashes

By Michael Crutcher 30/11/2002 09:20:41 PM Comments (0)

Australia's pacemen are set to put England out of its Ashes misery on Sunday after the home team unleashed another day of punishment in the third cricket Test at the WACA Ground.

England will start the third day with barely a hope of avoiding its eighth consecutive Ashes series loss, relying on its mentally-scarred batsman to somehow find a way through Australian quicks Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie.

England saw enough of Lee and Gillespie with the bat as Australia zipped to 456 in its first innings - a lead of 271 runs - before the tourists stumbled to 1-33 in its second innings at stumps.

Lee (1-21) smacked 41 runs from 40 balls before he made England's batsmen jump again on the bouncy WACA wicket, forcing Marcus Trescothick (four) to fend a catch to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

It was another lively spell from Lee with the Fremantle Doctor blowing at his back, and England's batsmen will hardly race through their breakfast cereal in anticipation of facing the right-armer.

Lee almost floored nightwatchman Richard Dawson (eight not out) with the first ball he faced, and the young Yorkshireman did well to survive four overs before stumps with Michael Vaughan (eight not out).

England's demise is surely a matter of time because, even if the tourists managed to score 400, Australia would be left to chase just 130 to seal a 3-0 series lead.

That would take Steve Waugh's batsmen little more than a session to overhaul if they continue the current pace which has left England floundering all summer.

Australia's 456 came in 436 minutes, with Damien Martyn (71), Ricky Ponting (68) and Waugh (53) leading one of the best supporting casts in an Ashes innings.

Waugh became just the fourth batsman to reach 3000 Test runs against England while Ponting cruised past 1000 Test runs for the calendar year, but the right-handers were only steady hands compared to some of their busier teammates.

Adam Gilchrist (38 from 28 balls) batted at his usual pace while Darren Lehmann (42 from 51) will cringe at the poor hook shot against brother-in-law Craig White (5-127) which cost the South Australian a perfect chance to post a big score.

Lehmann was facing an England attack chugging along without paceman Chris Silverwood, who was ruled out of the match with an ankle injury after bowling just four overs.

His fast bowling partners Alex Tudor (2-144) and Steve Harmison (1-86) must have wished they were sitting next to Silverwood on the players' balcony when Lee, Gillespie (27 from 26) and Shane Warne (35 from 56) began slapping runs.

The usually conservative Gillespie dragged England's pacemen by the ear across the WACA, hitting White over the long-off fence in perhaps the sweetest shot of his limited Test batting career.

Lee slashed Harmison over the third man boundary while Warne followed his knocks of 57 and 25 with a fluent 35.

The tailenders batted with freedom and England can only hope it plays the same way when the series resumes after a short recess in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

By then, England will almost certainly be 3-0 down and with a licence to try young faces and bold tactics against an Australian team which will keep its head down in pursuit of a 5-0 triumph.

The tourists can at least hope Christmas brings them a change of luck because, injuries aside, Australia has been almost flawless with some remarkable catching and sharp run-outs.

Don't touch any England player for luck because they have been desperately out of favour, watching when Tudor had Gilchrist caught for six off a no-ball.

The ensuing Gilchrist batting show only emphasised the differences between the teams this summer.

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