Cricket: Ambrose defied by Miller's assault

Australia 303 West Indies 58-2
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CURTLY AMBROSE seized the initiative for the West Indies with three quick wickets on the second morning of the fourth Test yesterday before a withering counter-attack by the Australian No 10, Colin Miller, stopped him in his tracks.

Miller, a 35-year-old in his first Test of the series whose average in his six previous Tests was four, blasted 41 off 38 balls and dominated a stand of 53 with his captain Steve Waugh that allowed Australia to recover to a total of 303 before they were all out just before lunch.

Armed with a ball 10 overs old and with the support of his boisterous home crowd, Ambrose dismissed Ian Healy, Adam Dale and Stuart MacGill, all to slip catches off tentative edges, for 21 runs within the first 50 minutes.

When Miller arrived, Australia had limped to 242 for 8 from their overnight 221 for 5 and Waugh, 59, was in danger of running out of partners before he could make any attempt at raising a reasonable total.

Miller's approach to the situation was forthright and immediate, paying particular attention to the bemused and tiring Ambrose.

He pulled the great fast bowler for four, then twice hoisted him over midwicket for sixes, the first clearing the stand and ending up alongside the wall of the adjoining prison, and leg-glanced him for another boundary.

Ambrose took his three wickets for nine runs from his first five overs. Once Miller got hold of him, his next three overs cost 32 and Brian Lara was forced to remove him to save him from the indignity of more punishment.

He turned to the more gentle offerings of Jimmy Adams' left-arm spin which did the trick in six balls, Miller cross-batting a catch to midwicket.

Alert to the sentiments of the 8,000 packed into the stands, Lara quickly recalled Ambrose for the chance to claim his fifth wicket of the innings. He duly obliged, finding Glenn McGrath's edge for a catch to the keeper.

Once more, Waugh found himself left high and dry, unbeaten on 72.

His strategy throughout the morning was as baffling as Lara's. Waugh made no attempt to shield his partners who were obliged to receive 104 balls, off which they scored 53, while he had only 40, adding a mere 20 to his overnight 52.

For his part, Lara allowed Miller to upset his game plan immediately. As soon as the tailender scooped Ambrose over mid-on for two, his first scoring shot, Lara started to scatter his fielders around the outfield, easing the pressure. Ambrose did not help the situation by pounding the ball in short.

With an inexperienced attack backing him up McGrath, with 226 wickets in his 48 Tests, would have to shoulder the main responsibility and he should have had an early wicket. Sherwin Campbell had scored only a single when he edged a loose drive to third slip where Michael Slater put down a straightforward, two-handed catch.

Australia won toss; second day of five

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M J Slater c Joseph b Perry 33

G S Blewett c Jacobs b Collymore 32

J L Langer run out 51

M E Waugh c Hooper b Walsh 11

*S R Waugh not out 72

R T Ponting lbw b Ambrose 21

I A Healy c Hooper b Ambrose 6

A C Dale c Hooper b Ambrose 1

S C G MacGill c Joseph b Ambrose 4

C R Miller c Joseph b Adams 43

G D McGrath c Jacobs b Ambrose 5

Extras (lb5 nb19) 24

Total (111.5 overs) 303

Fall: 1-60, 2-76, 3-96, 4-155, 5-211, 6-226, 7-232, 8-242, 9-295.

Bowling: Ambrose 29.5-6-94-5 (nb6); Walsh 26-1-67-1 (nb7); Collymore 25-6-49-1 (nb4); Perry 15-5-36-1; Adams 6-1-18-1; Hooper 10-1-34-0 (nb2).

WEST INDIES - First Innings

S L Campbell c M E Waugh b Miller 8

A F G Griffith c Healy b Miller 9

D R E Joseph not out 7

*B C Lara not out 31

Extras (nb3) 3

Total (for 2, 27 overs) 58

Fall: 1-19, 2-20.

To bat: C L Hooper, J C Adams, R D Jacobs, N O Perry, C E L Ambrose, C A Walsh, C D Collymore.

Bowling: McGrath 10-4-12-0; Dale 10-4-25-0 (nb2); Miller 6-2-17-2 (nb1); MacGill 1-0-4-0.

Umpires: D L Orchard (SA) and S A Bucknor (WI).