Australia reap spoils of Waugh

Fifth Test: Brothers in arms run out of luck at the finish as hapless E ngland are left to rue their missed opportunities while
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The Independent Online
IT TOOK a patchy, unbeaten 99 by Steve Waugh to put this series finally out of England's reach. It was the sixth time Waugh has finished in the nineties, though failure to claim his century here can be laid at the spreadeagled feet of his twin brother, Mark, who spectacularly ran himself out while acting as a runner for the injured last man, Craig McDermott. It was, in view of their suspect record of run-outs together, a tactless piece of captaincy by Mark Taylor, who had also made Mark Waugh pad up earlier in the day as a runner for Ian Healy after the keeper had strained a calf muscle when batting, the latest in a long line of ailments that have afflicted Healy in this series. With McDermott unable to bowl because of a back strain, Australia needed a big score, and their eventual total of 402 owed much to Steve Waugh.

It was a vital innings for both Waugh and Australia, as the Perth pitch never allowed any of the batsmen to settle, and 402 could have easily been halved had England caught their catches. For someone with a phenomenal record against England, Steve Waugh has been out of sorts in this series and he admitted it was just the kind of boost he needed with a tour of the West Indies coming up.

"It was a bit scratchy," he said afterwards, "but it was the sort of innings I've needed to play for a while. I just needed to hang in there and guts it out. It was disappointing to be stranded in the nineties again, but just because it was Mark who was run out it doesn't make it any bigger deal. I told him not to worry about it."

Curiously, it was only the second time that a player has been stranded one short of his century. And by coincidence, the previous occasion also happened at the Waca in 1979, when Geoff Boycott managed to carry his bat after England had lost the first Test to Australia in a three-match rubber.

As true now as it was then, the pitch, with its steep bounce and occasional movement, has made batting awkward. In the morning, after Angus Fraser had fortuitously removed Greg Blewett, who was allegedly caught behind off an inside edge, England must have fancied their chances of dismissing Australia by lunch and, but for wretched luck, might well have done so. Devon Malcolm regularly passed the edge, as Steve Waugh and Healy found more air than ball, swishing merrily at his thunderbolts.

Like his opening spell on Friday, this was high-class bowling by Malcolm as he worked up a blistering pace. He cannot have bowled better for less reward, and his disbelief at the unfairness of it all was felt all around.

As it was, it needed Phil DeFreitas to remove both Healy and Warne with soft dismissals, and a trio of hapless run-outs to get rid of the Aussies. The first of these run-outs saw Malcolm begin where he left off on Friday, groping for a ball that eluded his radar. Jo Angel pushed his luck too far by attempting a second run, and Malcolm followed up misfield with missile to leave the batsman well short.

After their humiliation in Adelaide, Australia's coach Bobby Simpson would have stressed the need for quick singles. Unfortunately, tail-enders are rarely good judges of the quick single and Glenn McGrath aptly proved the point as his hesitation waltz left DeFreitas with the easiest of run-outs.

Mark Waugh then completed the hat-trick on behalf of Craig McDermott, who had only just made it back to the ground after a strained back meant yet another scan in hospital. In the event, England did well to build the tension and keep Steve Waugh on 99 aslong as they did.

Eventually, something had to give, though few expected it to be Mark Waugh's nerve as he came flying down the pitch before turning abruptly back and diving full length, just failing to make his ground as Gooch underarmed Lewis's return into the stumps, the need for a replay prolonging the agony. It was a classic faux pas from the twins, and and nobody would want to be in Mark's shoes next time he and his brother visit their mum for tea.

If the Australian innings ended in turmoil, England's began just as badly, as Atherton followed up a punched drive for four with a glove down the leg-side to Healy. By his own admission, Atherton has "hit a bit of a wall" here in Perth, and as he trudgedoff back to the pavilion he must have been rueing what might have been had England taken their chances.

Certainly, they had no fortune, as Mike Gatting chopped his first ball back on to his stumps to give McGrath the chance of a hat-trick, the lanky bowler going perilously close as Thorpe nearly followed suit by playing-on.

Bowling into the Fremantle Doctor, McGrath extracted much more pace and bounce than his new-ball partner, Angel, this season's leading wicket- taker in the Sheffield Shield. Being on his home ground did not help the tall West Australian and Gooch and Thorpe made the most of some lacklustre bowling.

Ironically, it was probably Gooch's best innings since Brisbane and both he and Thorpe played their shots, the former driving straight while the latter pulled the short ball with gusto. Being short of a bowler, Taylor, who was clearly loath to bowl ShaneWarne (he eventually came on in the 29th over) instead resorted to Mark Waugh.

The change proved fortuitous. No sooner had Waugh removed Gooch with one that nipped back, he dismissed John Crawley for a duck with a classic bit of three-card fast bowling; two snorting bouncers followed by one pitched up that left the batsman's footwork in tatters as he edged to Warne at second slip.

Soon after, Thorpe reached a spirited 50. Like his Surrey predecessor, John Edrich, Thorpe looks an assured and compact player, and he was very much the unsung hero of England's Fourth Test win in Adelaide. With England still needing 93 to avoid the follow-on, a big score by him would be a fitting reminder of the progress he continues to make at this level.

(Second day; Australia won toss)

AUSTRALIA - FIRST INNINGS (Overnight: 283-4)

S R Waugh not out 99

(288 min, 183 balls, 12 fours, 1 five)

G S Blewett c Rhodes b Fraser 20

(inside edge to keeper; 72 min, 67 balls, 3 fours)

I A Healy c Lewis b DeFreitas 12

(uppish cut to gully; 59 mins, 38 balls, 1 four)

S K Warne c Rhodes b DeFreitas 1

(defensive edge to keeper; 26 min, 17 balls)

J Angel run out (Malcolm-Rhodes) 11

(run out going for second run; 65 min, 43 balls, 2 fours)

G D McGrath run out (DeFreitas) 0

(run out after mix-up; 16 min, 10 balls)

C J McDermott run out (Lewis-Gooch) 6

(runner run out after being sent back; 26 min, 15 balls)

Extras (b14 lb4 w4 nb9) 31

Total (587 min, 135.5 overs) 402

Fall (cont): 5-287 (Blewett), 6-320 (Healy), 7-328 (Warne), 8-386 (Angel), 9-388 (McGrath), 10-402 (McDermott).

Bowling: Malcolm 31-6-93-0 (w1) (6-1-15-0, 6-0-35-0, 4-0-16-0, 10-2-25-0, 5-3-2-0); DeFreitas 29-8-91-3 (nb2) (6-1-23-0, 5-2-10-0, 8-2-24-1, 6-2-23-2, 4-1-11-0); Fraser 32-11-84-1 (6-0-26-0, 3-1-8-0, 3-1-10-0, 8-3-19-0, 7-5-7-1, 4-1-12-0, 1-0-2-0); Lewis31.5-8-73-3 (nb8) (7-1-13-2, 3-0-15-0, 4-0-13-0, 5-4-3-1, 9-2-22-0, 3.5-1-7-0); Gooch 1-1-0-0 (one spell); Ramprakash 11-0-43-0 (9-0-31-0, 2-0-12-0).

Progress: Second day: 300: 409 min, 98.5 overs. Lunch: 348-7 (S Waugh 65, Angel 5) 116 overs. 350: 503 min, 118.4 overs. 400: 580 min, 134.2 overs. Innings closed: 2.45pm.

Slater 50: 117 min, 79 balls, 5 fours. 100: 228 min, 171 balls, 10 fours. M Waugh 50: 124 min, 98 balls, 6 fours. S Waugh 50: 173 min, 111 balls, 5 fours, 1 five.

ENGLAND - FIRST INNINGS G A Gooch lbw b M Waugh 37

(caught on back foot by nip-backer; 100 min, 76 balls, 4 fours)

*M A Atherton c Healy b McGrath 4

(gloved ball down leg side; 6 min, 3 balls, 1 four)

M W Gatting b McGrath 0

(chopped short ball on to stumps; 1 min, 1 ball)

G P Thorpe not out 54

(137 min, 100 balls, 9 fours)

J P Crawley c Warne b M Waugh 0

(edged ball off full length; 2 min, 3 balls)

M R Ramprakash not out 14

(43 min, 34 balls, 2 fours)

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (for 4, 148 min, 36 overs) 110

Fall: 1-5 (Atherton), 2-5 (Gatting), 3-77 (Gooch), 4-77 (Crawley).

To bat: C C Lewis, S J Rhodes, P A J DeFreitas, A R C Fraser, D E Malcolm.

Bowling: Angel 9-3-31-0 (nb1) (5-1-20-0, 4-2-11-0); McGrath 14-4-45-2 (4-2-5-2, 6-1-21-0, 2-0-16-0, 2-1-3-0); Blewett 4-1-9-0; M Waugh 5-2-13-2; Warne 4-1-12-0 (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 68 min, 17 overs. 100: 131 min, 31.3 overs. Thorpe 50: 114 min, 86 balls, 9 fours.

Umpires: K E Liebenberg and S G Randell.

TV replay umpire: T A Prue.

Match referee: J R Reid.

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