Cricket / First Test: Conservative Gooch fails to budget for Healy: Gatting falls to the last ball of the day to mar a valiant assault after poor bowling leaves England with a record-sized mountain to climb

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Australia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .289 and 432-5 dec

England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .210 and 133-2

THE sun beat down on row upon row of empty seats here yesterday - a distressing indication that England's cricket team are currently unable to compete with the car-boot sale and the garden centre, never mind Australia.

There is next to no prospect of England ending a sequence of 13 Tests without a victory against the old enemy today - their target of 512 is 106 runs more than any side has made to win - and the odds are that they will lose to Australia for the ninth time in 14 matches. They still require the small matter of 379 to win, which, thanks to a superb 82 not out from Graham Gooch, would be more of a viable proposition had they not lost Mike Gatting to yesterday's final ball. More pertinently, they would probably canter home if they were facing their own bowlers, who, with a couple of exceptions, look as though they had won their places in a raffle.

It is just as well that Gooch prepared for this match against Somerset's Second XI, as it must have represented more meaningful practice than anything he has faced in the England nets since last Wednesday. The pitch has been a good bit easier for batting on the last two days than on the first two, but watching England apparently bowling for a declaration from mid-afternoon on Saturday until mid- afternoon yesterday, was as depressing an experience (and there have been plenty to choose from) as we have witnessed in many years.

Andy Caddick and Peter Such were the two exceptions, but Ted Dexter's pre-series pledge for continuity will come under severe pressure when the selectors sit down to examine the credentials of Phillip DeFreitas, Chris Lewis and Philip Tufnell for Lord's. England's sponsored sunglasses are alleged to be 'vision enhancing', and if they are of any assistance in locating the whereabouts of the stumps, one or two might be as well to keep them on while they are bowling.

Australia led by 310 when they resumed at 231 for 3, and England quickly took up where they had left off on Saturday, by bowling to keep the runs down, and delay the declaration, rather than making any serious attempt to bowl the opposition out. It was like watching the middle overs of a Sunday league game.

Graeme Hick added to the general air of lethargy by dropping his second slip catch of the match, although Allan Border failed to cash in when he miscued a pull to present Caddick with his first Test wicket, and David Boon failed by seven runs in his quest for his first Test century in England when he drilled a ball from DeFreitas into as safe an area as was possible - Gatting's midriff - at cover point.

However, there then followed a record Australian sixth-wicket partnership in a Test match in England - 180 in only 165 minutes between Steve Waugh and Ian Healy. Despite Waugh's discomfort against Caddick digging the second new ball into his ribcage, the spinners were quickly brought back, and from then on it was a licence to print runs.

The Australians might have expected more of a threat from Chris Lewis, but England's all-rounder, one of the few successes in India, has scarcely broken sweat in this match. Of England's 242.3 overs, Lewis bowled only 22, and his return of 0 for 87 was a more than accurate reflection of his overall performance. Lewis has a large well of talent, but if he does not lower the bucket into it more often than he does, he is not worth perservering with.

Waugh, a ferocious cutter, was given far too much width, and while Healy may be no world-beater with the gloves, he is a fierce competitor and a more than handy batsman. England, on the other hand, made him look like a world-beater, and while Healy's excitement at scoring his maiden first-class century in an Ashes Test was understandable enough, he will have had harder innings in the Sheffield Shield.

Australia had added a further 202 for 2 by the time Border called them in at three o'clock, and his reluctance to declare the innings sooner might perhaps have reflected that he is only marginally more confident about his own side's bowling than Gooch is about his. Craig McDermott, earmarked as the class bowler of the series, has yet to take a wicket, and on the evidence so far, Billy the Kid, as he is known, is armed with nothing more potent than a water pistol. Gooch and Michael Atherton certainly had no trouble in seeing off the new ball and further cemented their impressive record in their 15 Tests as partners, adding 73 in 24 overs.

England could have done with a few more from them, but after Shane Warne, in his sixth over, had Atherton taken at slip off the outside edge, Gatting, on his 36th birthday, joined Gooch in a partnership that was both belligerent and confident enough to raise flickering hopes for a miracle until the very last delivery of the day.

Merv Hughes, who never does anything less than run in at full steam, attempted a fast inswinging yorker that was probably drifting down the leg side until it deflected off Gatting's pads and tore out the middle stump. If Merv had a slightly more subtle line in conversation, he would probably have sent Gatting on his way with a cheery chorus of Happy Birthday, while Gatting, understandably in the circumstances, steamed off in such a way that made it just as well there are no glass panels in the home dressing- room door at Old Trafford.

OLD TRAFFORD SCOREBOARD

(England won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 289 (M A Taylor 124, M J Slater 58; P M Such 6-67).

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Friday: 202 for 8)

A R Caddick c Healy b Warne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

(28 min, 18 balls, 1 four)

P M Such not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

(45 min, 33 balls, 1 four)

P C R Tufnell c Healy b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(19 min, 22 balls)

Extras (b6 lb10 nb5). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Total (303 min, 74.5 overs)210

Fall: 1-71 (Atherton), 2-80 (Gatting), 3-84 (Smith),

4-123 (Gooch), 5-148 (Hick), 6-168 (Lewis), 7-178 (DeFreitas), 8-183 (Stewart), 9-203 (Caddick).

Bowling: McDermott 18-2-50-0 (nb7) (10-1-30-0, 8-1-20-0); Hughes 20.5-5-59-4 (8-3-21-0, 5-2-15-1, 4- 0-16-2, 3.5-0-7-1); Julian 11-2-30-2 (5-1-11-0, 2-0-6-0, 4-1-13-2); Warne 24-10-51-4; Border 1-0-4-0 (one spell each).

Progress: Second day: 50: 79 min, 18.3 overs. Tea: 99-3 (Gooch 60, Hick 4) in 36 overs. 100: 154 min, 36.2 overs. 150: 218 min, 53.1 overs. 200: 274 min, 67 overs. Close: 202-8 (Caddick 6, Such 9) in 68 overs. Third day: Innings closed: 11.25am.

Gooch's 50: 105 min, 72 balls, 7 fours.

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings

(Overnight: 231 for 3)

M J Slater c Caddick b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(65 min, 48 balls, 2 fours)

M A Taylor lbw b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

(37 min, 26 balls, 2 fours)

D C Boon c Gatting b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93

(323 min, 255 balls, 12 fours)

M E Waugh b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

(136 min, 107 balls, 5 fours, 1 six)

* A R Border c and b Caddick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31

(130 min, 87 balls, 1 four)

S R Waugh not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78

(192 min, 134 balls, 8 fours)

] I A Healy not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102

(164 min, 133 balls, 12 fours)

Extras (b6 lb14 nb8). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

Total (for 5 dec, 528 min, 130 overs). . . . . . . .432

Fall: 1-23 (Taylor), 2-46 (Slater), 3-155 (M Waugh),

4-234 (Border), 5-252 (Boon).

Did not bat: B P Julian, M G Hughes, S K Warne, C J McDermott.

Bowling: Caddick 20-3-79-1 (nb3) (First spell 4-2-11- 0; second 4-0-15-0; third 5-0-17-1; fourth 7-1-36-0); DeFreitas 24-1-80-1 (nb1) (4-0-11-0; 10-1-29-1; 6-0-28- 0); Such 31-6-78-2 (11-3-21-2; 4-1-3-0; 6-1-17-0; 4-1-10- 0; 6-0-27-0); Tufnell 37-4-112-1 (nb1) (6-1-22-0; 6-1- 19-0; 10-0-21-1; 1-0-1-0; 2-1-6-0; 12-1-43-0); Hick 9-1- 20-0 (1-1-0-0; 6-0-11-0; 2-0-9-0); Lewis 9-0-43-0 (5nb) (6-0-28-0; 3-0-15-0).

Progress: Third day: 50: 70 min, 18 overs. Lunch: 55 for 2 (Boon 15, M Waugh 4) in 23 overs. 100: 143 min, 38.3 overs. 150: 198 min, 51.1 overs. Tea: 159 for 3 (Boon 48, Border 4) in 53 overs. 200: 272 min, 71 overs. Close: 231 for 3 (Boon 85, Border 29) in 83 overs. Fourth day: New ball at 241 for 4 after 85.4 overs. 250: 358 min, 88.1 overs. 300: 418 mins, 103 overs. Lunch: 345 for 5 (S Waugh 53, Healy 44) in 111 overs. 350: 454 min, 112.2 overs. 400: 502 min, 125.1 overs. Declaration: 3pm. Boon's 50: 180 min, 150 balls, 8 fours. M Waugh's 50: 108 min, 86 balls, 4 fours, 1 six. S Waugh's 50: 106 min, 70 balls, 7 fours. Healy's 50: 94 min, 84 balls, four fours. 100: 160 min, 132 balls, 12 fours.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

* G A Gooch not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82

(150 min, 118 balls, 16 fours)

M A Atherton c Taylor b Warne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

(96 min, 72 balls, 4 fours)

M W Gatting b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

(53 min, 34 balls, 4 fours)

Extras (lb1, nb2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Total (for 2, 150 min, 37 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133

Fall: 1-73 (Atherton), 2-133 (Gatting).

To bat: R A Smith, G A Hick, A J Stewart, C C Lewis, P A J DeFreitas, A R Caddick, P M Such, P C R Tufnell.

Bowling: McDermott 11-3-33-0 (nb1); Hughes 9-0- 44-1 (6-0-27-0, 3-0-17-1), Warne 12-6-24-1; Julian 5-0-31-0 (nb1).

Progress: Fourth day: Tea: 27-0 (Gooch 20, Atherton 5) in 7 overs. 50: 48 mins, 11.3 overs. 100: 113 mins, 28 overs.

Gooch's 50: 102 min, 74 balls, 11 fours.

Umpires: H D Bird and K E Palmer.

(Photograph omitted)

Sunday league,

Scoreboard, page 28

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