Cricket / Fourth Test:: Australian triumph prompts Gooch to walk: Stewart and Atherton are favourites for the succession as lacklustre England lose the match, the series and their captain: Martin Johnson reports from Headingley

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Australia 653-4; England 200 and 305. Australia win by an innings and 148 runs

FORTY minutes after lunch, England had been devoured and digested, and Australia were letting out their customary burp of satisfaction. As meals go, a kangaroo steak is a good deal tougher than England, which is why Allan Border's curls were matted with the usual champagne shampoo, and Graham Gooch chose the moment to remove the England captaincy from what remains of his own hair.

An innings and 148 runs was the final margin, which is not far off their worst ever defeat of an innings and 180 in the last Ashes series here in 1989, and it seems a lot longer than 17 matches ago since England last beat their traditional enemy. As for Gooch, he sat down for his sixth losing captain's press conference in his last seven outings, and announced that someone else would be in the chair at Edgbaston next week.

While he did not say so, Gooch actually resigned last Saturday night, when England were 195 for 7 in reply to Australia's 653 for 4 declared. He asked Ted Dexter to come to Leeds and make himself available for yesterday's announcement, which the England chairman not only failed to do, but also asked Gooch to delay his decision until 24 hours after the match. Gooch, however, has had enough of this sort of prevarication, and the England committee will now dither itself into some kind of action to select a successor.

'I am calling a meeting as soon as possible,' was Dexter's message yesterday, as if Gooch's departure had come as some huge surprise, and was read out by a TCCB spokesman given that Ted was too busy to turn up in person. The rest of his message was full of platitudes on Gooch ('Pleasure to work with, pleased he is still available to play' etc, etc . . . ) which the former captain did not hang around to listen to.

Someone else will now have the pleasure of working in juxtaposition with Ted, or at least Ted's telephone, and the odds being quoted by Sporting Index yesterday afternoon were 6-4 Alec Stewart, 7-4 Mike Atherton, and 7-2 Mike Gatting. It is thought that the England committee is unanimous, but only on not having the foggiest who they want, and they may end up locking all three in a broom cupboard and waiting to see which one comes out.

When asked to whom the poisoned chalice might now pass, Gooch said yesterday: 'My thoughts are known to the manager.' Stewart is thought to be his personal choice, but the process of choosing a new captain is down to six men, of whom Gooch is not one.

They are Fletcher (thought to favour Gatting) Ossie Wheatley, the chairman of the cricket committee (thought, given the fact that he vetoed his appointment in 1989, not to favour Gatting), Dexter (Atherton), A C Smith, the board's chief executive (Atherton), Frank Chamberlain, the board chairman (now the man with the power of veto, but who will probably not vote) and, wait for it, Micky Stewart, director of coaching and father of the 6-4 favourite. Whoever they come up with, a decision is not expected until tomorrow at the earliest.

Gooch withdrew yesterday with the comment that 'when I look in the mirror I can say to myself that I have done my best', which may or may not mean that he feels one or two others are unable to do the same. What he does know, however, is that he has gone not merely because England are losing, but because they are not even able to compete in any meaningful sense of the word.

'Now the Ashes are gone, I feel the best way forward for England is a fresh approach. Someone else to look up to. We have not been doing well under my leadership and it is only right and proper to go. Whoever takes over will have all my support and, if selected, hopefully my expertise with the willow.'

Border took time out from his own understandable euphoria to say that he was 'sad' to see Gooch go. 'We are good mates, and he is one of the great cricketers England have produced. He prepares for a game of cricket as well as any man I've ever seen, but he's 40 years of age, and he can't do everything. I fully understand his reasons, because the side he's leading is not responding. If you are losing, you cop it. That's the way it is. I know. I've been there.'

He has not, however, 'been there' against England since 1986, when Gatting was the one doing all the beaming at the press conferences, and Border's fuse was on about a one-second delay. Since then, he has been feted (Australia flew home to a ticker-tape reception after 1989) as a national hero, and he should at least feel some gratitude towards England for their considerable assistance in elevating him to those heights.

'We expected a very tight series,' he said, 'but it's nice to have our policy of bringing younger guys out here vindicated. Why do we keep beating you? Well, Sheffield Shield cricket is a very strong breeding ground for Test cricket, and the same is not true of county cricket. We also have less players to pick from than England. Less confusion.'

Border was then asked if he would have trouble eliminating complacency for the final two Test matches, and said, after a pause and a smile: 'Let's put it this way. It might be hard to get them fired up for the Lancashire match tomorrow.'

Australia certainly did not have to get themselves too fired up to take England's final six wickets, and the only real whiff of cordite came, perhaps not surprisingly, from Merv Hughes - first when he was bowling to Stewart, and later when he stuck his moustache through the press box door and was a trifle impolite about a story he had read in The Sun.

Hughes's conviction that he had dismissed Stewart caught behind without adding to his overnight 59 (shared by the entire Australian team, a number of television pundits, but not the umpire) unhinged him sufficiently for Stewart to cash in on four deliveries in one over banged in half- way down, all of which he crunched to the boundary.

However, not long after Graham Thorpe had edged a routine slip catch off Paul Reiffel, Stewart fell to a breathtaking diving catch at second slip from Mark Waugh. Any fond hopes that England might have had about hanging on for a draw disappeared at that moment, and the rest evaporated with barely a whimper.

Hughes, mental equilibrium restored after Stewart's departure, wrung two consecutive lbw decisions out of Dickie Bird, almost as remarkable a statistic as Hughes becoming (as much with heart as talent) only the seventh Australian to pass 200 Test wickets. The significant 200 here, however, came from Border, and it was fitting enough that one of the souvenirs of victory - the match ball - ended up in his pocket after a skied slog from England's No 11 Mark Ilott.

The ultimate souvenir, of course, is the Ashes themselves, although Australia will have to content themselves with the usual replica - appropriate enough for having beaten an imitation of a team. The Ashes themselves remain as a historical relic on permanent display inside the Lord's museum, as, one day, might England's last Ashes-winning scorecard.

County reports, Scoreboard, Foster retires, page 31

FOURTH CORNHILL TEST SCOREBOARD

(Australia won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M J Slater b Ilott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67

(139 min, 103 balls, 8 fours)

M A Taylor lbw b Bicknell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(98 min, 62 balls, 4 fours)

D C Boon lbw b Ilott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107

(313 min, 225 balls, 17 fours)

M E Waugh b Ilott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52

(112 min, 75 balls, 6 fours)

* A R Border not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .200

(567 min, 399 balls, 26 fours)

S R Waugh not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .157

(407 min, 305 balls, 19 fours)

Extras (b8 lb22 w4 nb9). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43

Total (for 4 dec, 821 min, 193 overs). . . .653

Fall: 1-86 (Taylor), 2-110 (Slater), 3-216 (M Waugh), 4-321 (Boon).

Did not bat: I A Healy, P R Reiffel, M G Hughes, S K Warne, T B A May.

Bowling: McCague 28-2-115-0 (nb2 w1) (3-0-15-0, 6-0-28-0, 4-0-23-0, 3-0-11-0, 5-0-22-0, 7-2-16-0); Ilott 51-11-161-3 (w2) (6-1-22-0, 7-0-25-1, 6-3-6-1, 4-1-11-0, 9-3-27-1, 5-0-24-0, 5-1-19-0, 3-0-11-0, 6-2-16-0); Caddick 42-5-138-0 (nb3) (6-1-10-0, 5-0-25-0, 9-2-26-0, 1-0-2-0, 4-1-10-0, 5-0-25-0, 3-1-11-0, 3-0-13-0, 5-0-13-0, 1-0-3-0); Bicknell 50-8-155-1 (nb6) (11-1-36-1, 6-1-18-0, 4-2-9-0, 10-1-37-0, 3-0-11-0, 6-3-11-0, 4-0-13-0, 10-0-33-0); Gooch 16-5-40-0 (w1) (5-3-5-0, 1-0-3-0, 6-2-17-0, 1-0-2-0, 3-0-13-0); Thorpe 6-1-14-0 (3-1-7-0, 3-0-7-0).

ENGLAND - First Innings

M N Lathwell c Healy b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(2 min, 3 balls)

M A Atherton b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55

(227 min, 180 balls, 5 fours)

R A Smith c and b May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

(65 min, 58 balls, 3 fours)

A J Stewart c Slater b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . .5

(23 min, 22 balls, 1 four)

* G A Gooch lbw b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

(156 min, 129 balls, 8 fours, 1 six)

G P Thorpe c Healy b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(2 min, 3 balls)

N Hussain b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

(32 min, 30 balls, 2 fours)

A R Caddick c M Waugh b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . .9

(47 min, 44 balls, 2 fours)

M P Bicknell c Border b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . .12

(44 min, 32 balls, 2 fours)

M J McCague c Taylor b Warne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(7 min, 6 balls)

M C Ilott not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(5 min, 4 balls)

Extras (b2 lb3 nb17). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Total (311 min, 82.5 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . .200

Fall: 1-0 (Lathwell), 2-43 (Smith), 3-50 (Stewart), 4-158 (Atherton), 5-158 (Thorpe), 6-169 (Gooch), 7-184 (Hussain), 8-195 (Caddick), 9-200 (McCague).

Bowling: Hughes 15.5-3-47-3 (6-1-19-1, 3-0-16-0, 4-1-8-0, 2.5-1-4-2); Reiffel 26-6-65-5 (nb9) (15-4-36-1, 11-2-29-4); May 15-3-33-1 (nb4); Warne 23-9-43-1 (nb1); M Waugh 3-0-7-0 (nb2) (one spell each).

Second Innings

M N Lathwell b May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

(100 min, 78 balls, 2 fours)

M A Atherton st Healy b May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63

(206 min, 171 balls, 8 fours)

R A Smith lbw b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

(125 min, 120 balls, 5 fours)

A J Stewart c M Waugh b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . .78

(155 min, 125 balls, 9 fours)

* G A Gooch st Healy b May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

(61 min, 40 balls, 5 fours)

G P Thorpe c Taylor b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . .13

(62 min, 47 balls, 1 four)

N Hussain not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

(112 min, 96 balls, 3 fours)

A R Caddick lbw b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(56 min, 48 balls, 2 fours)

M P Bicknell lbw b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(1 min, 1 ball)

M J McCague b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

(24 min, 24 balls, 2 fours)

M C Ilott c Border b May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

(21 min, 23 balls)

Extras (b5 lb3 w1 nb11). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Total (471 min, 127 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .305

Fall of wickets: 1-60 (Lathwell), 2-131 (Atherton), 3-149 (Smith), 4-202 (Gooch), 5-256 (Thorpe), 6-263 (Stewart), 7-279 (Caddick), 8-279 (Bicknell), 9-295 (McCague).

Bowling: Hughes 30-10-79-3 (nb1 w1) (7-2-10-0, 5-2-14-0, 9-2-37-0, 9-4-18-3); Reiffel 28-8-87-3 (nb3) (4-0-18-0, 5-0-18-0, 4-1-16-0, 5-1-21-1, 10-6-14-2); Warne 40-16-63-0 (nb1) (22-8-35-0, 5-2-10-0, 1-0-1-0, 12-6-17-0); May 27-6-65-4 (nb6) (10-4-17-1, 15-0-48-2, 2-2-0-1); M Waugh 2-1-3-0. (one spell).

Progress (Fifth day): Rain stopped play: 11.13-11.25 at 238-4 (Stewart 59, Thorpe 11) 92.3 overs. 250: 365 min, 93.5 overs. Rain stopped play: 11.43-11.58 at 263-6 (Hussain 4, Caddick 0) in 96.4 overs. Lunch: 279-8 (Hussain 7, McCague 0) 114 overs. 300: 456 min, 121.4 overs. Innings closed: 2.22pm.

Australia won by an innings and 148 runs

Man of the Match: A R Border (Australia).

Adjudicator: V J Marks.

Umpires: H D Bird, N T Plews, B Leadbeater.

Match Referee: C H Lloyd.

Previous results: First Test (Old Trafford): Australia won by 179 runs. Second Test (Lord's): Australia won by an innings and 62 runs. Third Test (Trent Bridge): Match drawn.

Remaining Tests: Fifth (Edgbaston): 5-9 August. Sixth (The Oval): 19-23 August.

(Photograph omitted)

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