Cricket: England bloodied by Waugh on two fronts: Fifth Test: Tourists' twins peak to oversee some much-needed restoration work after spinners cause alarm in the upper order

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The Independent Online
England 276; Australia 258-5

MARK WAUGH was four minutes later into the world than his twin brother Steve, but six years later into his country's Test team, which either suggests that the Australian team is rather more difficult to get into, or that England do not have a monopoly on recognising talent long after they ought to have done.

Mrs Waugh's could not have been a more difficult delivery than the one England are awaiting against Australia - eight years and 17 matches is a long time to be in labour without producing anything - and yesterday her boys probably condemned them to spend at least one more match pacing up and down the paternity ward.

When they came together in mid- afternoon, Australia (having been averaging 344 for their top four first-innings wickets) were struggling at 80 for 4, and there was an air of such optimism circulating here that the TCCB could have earned a few extra bob had its marketing men begun selling 'Dexter Must Stay' T-shirts.

However, the two Waughs - who are a long way from being inseparable twins off the field - then turned Siamese with the bat, and England, unable to cope with a Waugh on two fronts, are once again back in the trenches. What made it all the more galling is that the Waugh partnership of 153 (the highest for the fifth wicket for any Test on this ground) ought to have been 153 less, and both of them could have been out for 0.

Steve, in fact, should have been out second ball, when Alec Stewart missed stumping him as he advanced down the pitch to Peter Such, leaving England to ponder once again on whether employing a part-time wicketkeeper in the interests of balance is, in fact, a balanced idea. It was the third stumping Stewart has missed in the series and difficult though it was, if the chance had been taken (as one suspects it might had Jack Russell been wearing the gloves) Australia would have been 80 for 5.

England will also take some convincing that Mark should not have returned to the pavilion with a zero against his name, when they appealed with such ferocity for a catch at slip off Such that only an umpire of David Shepherd's build could have remained upright in the blast. However, in as much as television replays can ever be entered for either prosecution or defence in such circumstances, the ball a) appeared to come off pad only and b) looked suspiciously like a half volley when Nasser Hussain scooped it up from around his ankles.

Waugh, Mark that is, went on to make 137 in four hours of the casual brilliance that is both his trademark and his Achilles' heel. He whips off- stump balls through the on-side with such a powerful bottom hand that it is almost as impossible to bowl to him when he is in the mood as it is to Mohammad Azharuddin, and his fourth Test century was every bit as fluent as his first. That came in his maiden Test innings, against England, naturally enough, in Adelaide on the 1990-91 tour, when the player dropped by Australia to accommodate him was, in fact, his elder brother.

Waugh the younger is altogether the more naturally talented, but is far more prone to give his wicket away, as he did in the third over of the second new ball, when he whipped Mark Ilott straight to Graham Thorpe at deep backward square. This time (unlike in the south Sydney delivery room 28 years ago) Mark was first out.

It was a wicket, 25 minutes before the close, that England badly needed, but was perhaps most deserved by Martin Bicknell, who bowled well without reward, and had several hairline leg before appeals turned down. Bicknell also showed the sort of hostility that the Australians normally reserve for England's batsmen, exploring Steve Waugh's discomfort against the short ball with undisguised relish, and neither was he backward in engaging the batsman in close-quarter conversation. As Steve has a Cresta Run reputation in the sledging stakes, this was probably fair game.

The way the day began, it looked as though there might not be too much cricket left by this evening. John Emburey, 55 not out overnight, did not face a ball as his No 11 Ilott was caught behind off the fifth ball of the morning, and with England finding as much deviation as Australia had, batting continued to look difficult.

Michael Slater, playing back in Such's fourth over, was caught off a thick inside edge and pad by Robin Smith at short leg, and Australia were 39 for 2 when David Boon, averaging 100.8 in the series, was out for 0. Again playing back, to Emburey, the ball turned so sharply that the only difficulty for the umpire was in deciding whether it had done too much.

The next adjudication, however, required the use of the television replay, when Mark Taylor called for a hairy second run against one of the best fielders in the England side, Matthew Maynard. Taylor, having batted two hours and four minutes for 19, is not exactly turbocharged between the wickets either, and he was far enough out for the third umpire to call if after only one viewing.

Allan Border, fresh from his 200 not out at Leeds, if fresh is the right word for a 38-year-old after a nine and a half hour innings, made only three this time before edging Such to slip, where Hussain took a marvellous catch wide and low to his left. Had Steve Waugh followed in that same over, England might possibly have poured through the breach.

However, he did not, and is still there this morning with an innings of 57 not out that, in contrast to his brother, has come from the chisel rather than the rapier. You would not bet against him turning that into three figures today, which would take Australia's tally of centuries in the series, from seven different batsmen, to 11.

England have three from two (Gooch two, and Thorpe) and while they have no shortage of 50s, it is the big numbers that win Test matches.

Carr the driving force,

(Photograph omitted)

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