Cricket / Second Test: Slater sentences England to further anguish: Australia's openers build a solid foundation to conjure recollections of Trent Bridge 1989 as Gooch's battle cry goes unheeded

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Australia. . . . . . . . . . . . .292-2

England

IT WAS a nice idea, but that will be quite enough pep talks from the captain, thank you very much. England responded by shedding some perspiration yesterday on the first day of the second Test, but this was largely in retrieving the ball from the boundary, and in terms of results, Graham Gooch might just as well have addressed his stirring pre-match battle cry to the Speaking Clock.

Had he rung yesterday, the three pips would have been preceded by the information that it was four minutes to five o'clock when England took their first wicket, and while Michael Slater did not keep Mark Taylor company for the entire day - as Geoff Marsh did at Trent Bridge in 1989 - and unless you classify Australia's descent from 260 for 0 to 292 for 2 as a collapse, yesterday provided further evidence that while one team reaches for the zinc cream in this series, the other is using embalming fluid.

Slater and Taylor's 260 was the third-highest Australian opening partnership in Test history, behind the 382 of Bill Lawry and Bobby Simpson, and the 329 that Taylor and Marsh went on to make after walking off together in 1989 with the Trent Bridge first-day score at 301 for 0. Taylor and Slater also eclipsed the 128 they compiled together at Old Trafford as the highest opening stand by two players from Wagga Wagga.

If there are grounds for optimism this morning, this ground is not among them. England have won only once in 12 Tests at Lord's since 1983, and while they were dynamite against Australia in the late 19th century (four wins between 1884 and 1896) there is no conceivable prospect of adding to their collection of victories over them (one) since then.

If the Australians were confident after Old Trafford, nothing they read about Gooch's 'I quit' threat in the morning's papers will have diluted it, and the England captain might even have considered turning in his badge when he walked off for lunch. Australia had won a good toss on a flat pitch, and the bowling was so impotent that Gooch had been forced into trundling from the Nursery End.

This is the end from which Neil Foster should have been bowling in 1989, or so it was put to the then captain David Gower, who responded by walking out of the press conference, and taking a cab to the theatre. However, Foster was mostly operating from the pavilion end again yesterday, which is the one he prefers, although it scarcely seems to matter which end he bowls from at Lord's. Foster had taken only 14 wickets in seven previous Tests here, and after yesterday it remains 14.

Both sides went into the match with two spinners, and England's were operating in tandem by noon after Foster and Andrew Caddick had bowled reasonably well, without much luck, with the first of what may be several new balls. Slater rode his luck a touch more than his senior partner, particularly when a top- edged hook fell just short of Foster at long leg, but for the most part, they tucked in much as they pleased.

In the last series here Taylor made 839 runs, and he has now added another 244 to that in three innings in this one. Taylor's 111 was his 10th Test century, his fourth against England, and his record of passing 1,000 runs in 14 innings in Test matches in England is second only to Bradman, who knocked them off in eight.

Taylor was more aggressive than normal, and Gooch, who had bowled four first-class overs this summer before yesterday, had some tidy figures spoiled when Taylor pulled him for six into the Mound Stand. Like the rest of the ground, this was just about full, although such was the inevitability of another duffing-up for England, that the atmosphere was not much more electrifying than on a dull day at Grace Road.

Leicestershire were not playing yesterday, which is why Ben Smith was on the field (substituting for Mike Gatting) to take the catch that finally ended the partnership. Slater miscued an on-drive low to midwicket, and will rarely have enjoyed a walk back to the pavilion more than this one. A maiden Test century, at Lord's in his second Test, and a career-best score of 152 to boot.

Taylor scarcely hung about, but Slater was so much the dominant partner that his century came from 163 (with Taylor on 58) when he leg glanced Foster for a single. The ball had barely left his blade when Slater embarked upon a series of air-punching leaps, followed by a hug from Taylor, and a kiss for the kangaroo on his helmet. Lord's remains a special venue for Australians, not least for the fact that they invariably spend their time there sticking it to the Poms.

England had been bowling for eight hours and one minute without taking a wicket when Slater perished to his signature stroke, the on-drive, and not everything that he dispatched off the front foot was a genuine half- volley. He also has the sort of footwork that would have made Fred Astaire look a bit of slouch, and neither Philip Tufnell nor Peter Such posed him the slightest problem.

Slater fell to Chris Lewis who bowled with all the energy he had managed to save at Old Trafford, while Tufnell's anguish at seeing Alec Stewart miss a stumping when Taylor was 85 was partially assuaged when Stewart made amends later in the day. However, the Campaign for Real Wicketkeepers will now begin again in earnest, and if England have not had much luck so far in this series, neither have they deserved much.

CORNHILL TEST SCOREBOARD

(First day: Australia won toss)

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M A Taylor st Stewart b Tufnell . . . . . . . 111

(323 min, 245 balls, 10 fours, 1 six)

M J Slater c sub (B F Smith) b Lewis . . . . .152

(293 min, 263 balls, 18 fours)

D C Boon not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

(65 min, 45 balls, 1 four)

M E Waugh not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

(35 min, 26 balls)

Extras (lb1 w1 nb10) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Total (for 2, 360 min, 94 overs) . . . . . . .292

Fall: 1-260 (Slater), 2-277 (Taylor).

To bat: * A R Border, S R Waugh, I A Healy, T B A May, M G Hughes, S K Warne, C J McDermott.

Bowling: Caddick 21-4-61-0 (nb4) (8-1-23-0, 5-1-15-0, 5-0-22-0, 3-2-1-0); Foster 19-4-59-0 (7-0-27-0, 4-2-12-0, 6-2-18-0, 2-0-2-0); Such 14-1-31-0 (4-1-5-0, 6-0-17-0, 4- 0-9-0); Tufnell 15-2-65-1 (nb5) (4-0-21-0, 7-1-35-0, 4-1- 9-1); Lewis 15-1-57-1 (nb6) (8-1-23-0, 7-0-34-1), Gooch 6-1-15-0 (one spell); Hick 4-3-3-0 (2-2-0-0, 2-1-3-0).

Progress: 50: 55 min, 14.4 overs. 100: 111 min, 29.5 overs. Lunch: 101 for 0 (Taylor 36, Slater 63) 33 overs. 150: 176 min, 48 overs. 200: 222 min, 60.4 overs. Tea: 212 for 0 (Taylor 86, Slater 120) 67 overs. 250: 282 min, 75.5 overs.

Taylor's 50: 156 min, 126 balls, 5 fours, 1 six. 100: 288 min, 212 balls, 9 fours, 1 six. Slater's 50: 91 min, 83 balls, 6 fours. 100: 192 min, 175 balls, 10 fours. 150: 289 min, 260 balls, 18 fours.

ENGLAND: * G A Gooch, M A Atherton, M W Gatting, R A Smith, G A Hick, A J Stewart, C C Lewis, N A Foster, A R Caddick, P M Such, P C R Tufnell.

Umpires: M J Kitchen and D J Shepherd (third umpire, J C Balderstone).

County reports, scoreboard, page 34

(Photographs omitted)

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