Cricket / Sixth Test: England victory ends seven year hitch: A sorry sequence of defeats in Ashes contests is brought to a close with a resounding triumph in the sixth Test at the Oval: Martin Johnson reports from The Oval

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England 380 and 313; Australia 303 and 229. England win by 161 runs

THE KANGAROO has long since bolted, but England will have taken no little pleasure in at least trapping its tail in the stable door. Merv's moustache will now be incinerated and placed inside an urn, and the sword that Lord Ted fell upon two weeks ago will be removed and placed lightly upon his shoulder pads by the reigning monarch.

Seven years had gone by since Mike Gatting became the last English captain to pour the champagne after an Ashes Test, since when the traditional joust with the ancient enemy has been like pitting a lance against a cocktail stick. However, a remarkable crowd for the last day of a Test match yesterday witnessed an equally remarkable victory, in which England took the 10 Australian wickets they required with 83 deliveries and 161 runs to spare.

The first thing that has to be said, without being too wet-blankety about it, is that the Australians appeared to be rather more plugged into the in- flight video back to Sydney than the job in hand, and there was also a certain amount of evidence that the umpiring was just as weary as the touring team after 123 days away from home.

That said, England have throughout this match looked like a side determined to make things happen, and in Michael Atherton (who no longer requires his Cambridge degree in history to recall the last time England won an Ashes Test) they have a captain who represents youth, energy, and a far harder edge than his choirboy looks suggest. The one formality after the sixth Test was Atherton's reappointment for the winter tour to the West Indies.

England required a fast start yesterday morning, although three wickets in the first half hour was beyond even their own expectations. All three went to Steve Watkin in the space of seven deliveries, and Watkin will have to go to the Caribbean if only as the team's lucky mascot. This was his third Test match, and his record stands at won two, drawn one.

His first delivery of the day was not quite what he had in mind, slipping out of his hand and finishing motionless somewhere in the region of extra cover. Michael Slater received umpire Barrie Meyer's permission for a free hit, and duly knocked it for four.

Slater's next adjudication from Meyer, however, did not meet with quite such enthusiastic approval from the batsman, in that the delivery to which he was adjudged caught behind appeared to come from considerably closer to the elbow than bat or glove. David Boon was then given out leg beforefirst ball, and while this too looked worth the benefit of the doubt, Boon had no reason (other than having his mind in the Heathrow departure lounge) to be playing no stroke to a straightish delivery.

Mark Taylor, having been hit a painful blow in the chest by Devon Malcolm, then dragged a ball from Watkin on to his leg stump, and after a mini revival from Allan Border and Mark Waugh, England reeled in the opposition again with another three-wicket burst in the space of five overs after lunch.

The first of these was another contentious umpiring decision, Border being given out caught behind in Malcolm's first over of the afternoon, and Border's last Test innings in England (or at least one presumes it is) ended with the Australian captain departing to a roll of the eyeballs and several shakes of the head.

Mark Waugh, who either bats like a dream or in a deep sleep, then fell into the latter category when Malcolm put two fielders back behind deep square leg for the hook, and watched Waugh obligingly pick out one of them, Mark Ramprakash. Waugh, an engagingly honest character, said afterwards that he did not know there was anyone down there (never mind two men) because he 'forgot to look'.

Watkin then decided to test the theory that a particularly virulent strain of madness had invaded the Australian dressing-room, and Ian Healy immediately confirmed this diagnosis by top-edging another hook back over his head. Matthew Maynard, running back from first slip, took a catch that was a good deal better judged than the stroke.

Malcolm struck again with the first ball of his third spell when Steve Waugh, who is not over-anxious to get too far forward against this type of pace, was leg before on the back foot to a near-yorker, and when Merv Hughes pulled Angus Fraser straight to deep backward square immediately before tea, Australia had only two wickets left in which to survive 36 more overs. Paul Reiffel, despite being struck on the back of the helmet second ball by Malcolm, and Shane Warne, got through half of those - largely because England's pace bowlers pitched far too short - and as soon as Fraser landed one in the batsman's half, Reiffel drove back a return catch.

Finally, in the second over of the final 15, Warne shuffled across a straight one from Fraser (all 20 wickets fell to the England seamers) and the traditional scenes at the end of an Ashes Test ensued, handshakes all round, and a grab for the souvenir stumps. The unusual bit (given that England have slipped through seven changes of captain, two chairmen of selectors, and a list of players of London telephone directory proportions since their previous win in 1986) was that it this time involved England's players, rather than Australia's.

Atherton then took possession of something of a collector's item, a winner's cheque with England written on it, before proceeding to the interview room to be congratulated on a famous victory. Or so he might have thought. His first couple of questions were along the lines of 'Come off it Mike, do you think one win means England are up to it for the West Indies?' and 'Can you explain your designer stubble please?' Welcome to the England captaincy.

SCOREBOARD

SIXTH CORNHILL TEST

(England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings

G A Gooch c Border b S Waugh. . . . . . . . . . . . . .56

(90 min, 66 balls, 10 fours)

* M A Atherton lbw b S Waugh. . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

(153 min, 94 balls, 9 fours)

G A Hick c Warne b May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80

(142 min, 107 balls, 14 fours, 1 six)

M P Maynard b Warne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

(38 min, 34 balls, 3 fours)

N Hussain c Taylor b Warne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

(61 min, 54 balls, 6 fours)

A J Stewart c Healy b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . .76

(117 min, 94 balls, 12 fours, 1 six)

M R Ramprakash c Healy b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . .6

(23 min, 22 balls, 1 four)

A R C Fraser b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

(140 min, 92 balls, 4 four)

S L Watkin c S Waugh b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . .13

(38 min, 32 balls, 1 four)

P M Such c M Waugh b Hughes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

(22 min, 27 balls, 1 four)

D E Malcolm not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(2 min)

Extras (lb7 w1 nb9)17

Total (420 min, 101.5 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . .380

Fall: 1-88 (Gooch), 2-143 (Atherton), 3-177 (Maynard), 4-231 (Hick), 5-253 (Hussain), 6-272 (Ramprakash), 7-339 (Stewart), 8-363 (Watkin), 9-374 (Such), 10-380 (Fraser).

Bowling: Hughes 30-7-121-3; Reiffel 28.5-4-88-2; S Waugh 12-2-45-2; Warne 20-5-70-2; M Waugh

1-0-17-0; May 10-3-32-1.

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M A Taylor c Hussain b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . .70

(181 min, 134 balls, 10 fours)

M J Slater c Gooch b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

(11 min, 7 balls, 1 four)

D C Boon c Gooch b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

(33 min, 23 balls, 1 four)

M E Waugh c Stewart b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

(37 min, 26 balls, 1 four)

* A R Border c Stewart b Fraser. . . . . . . . . . . .48

(163 min, 107 balls, 6 fours)

S R Waugh b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

(37 min, 36 balls, 3 fours)

I A Healy not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83

(189 min, 117 balls, 6 fours)

M G Hughes c Ramprakash b Watkin. . . . . . . . . . . .7

(25 min, 25 balls, 1 four)

P R Reiffel c Maynard b Watkin. . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(2 min, 3 balls)

S K Warne c Stewart b Fraser. . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

(59 min, 45 balls, 1 four)

T B A May c Stewart b Fraser. . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

(67 min, 50 balls, 1 four)

Extras (b5 lb6 w2 nb4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Total (411 min, 94.4 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . 303

Fall: 1-9 (Slater), 2-30 (Boon), 3-53 (M Waugh), 4-132 (Taylor), 5-164 (S Waugh), 6-181 (Border), 7-196 (Hughes), 8-196 (Reiffel), 9-248 (Warne), 10-303 (May).

Bowling: Malcolm 26-5-86-3; Watkin 28-4-87-2; Fraser 26.4-4-87-5; Such 14-4-32-0.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

G A Gooch c Healy b Warne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79

(226 min, 183 balls, 13 fours)

* M A Atherton c Warne b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . .42

(81 min, 62 balls, 8 fours)

G A Hick c Boon b May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

(97 min, 74 balls, 5 fours, 1 six)

M P Maynard c Reiffel b Hughes . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

(27 min, 21 balls, 1 four)

N Hussain c M Waugh b Hughes . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(1 min, 1 ball)

A J Stewart c M Waugh b Reiffel . . . . . . . . . . . .35

(135 min, 103 balls, 4 fours)

M R Ramprakash c Slater b Hughes . . . . . . . . . . . .64

(242 min, 184 balls, 5 fours)

A R C Fraser c Healy b Reiffel. . . . . . . . . . . . .13

(52 min, 42 balls, 2 fours)

S L Watkin lbw b Warne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

(5 min, 4 balls, 1 four)

P M Such lbw b Warne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

(54 min, 41 balls, 1 four)

D E Malcolm not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(4 min, 4 balls)

Extras (b5, lb12, w1, nb3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Total (470 min, 119.2 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . .313

Fall: 1-77 (Atherton), 2-157 (Hick), 3-180 (Maynard), 4-180 (Hussain), 5-186 (Gooch), 6-254 (Stewart),

7-276 (Fraser), 8-283 (Watkin), 9-313 (Such), 10-313 (Ramprakash).

Bowling: Hughes 31.2-9-110-3; Reiffel 24-8-55-3; Warne 40-15-78-3; May 24-6-53-1.

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings

M A Taylor b Watkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

(47 min, 29 balls, 1 four)

M J Slater c Stewart b Watkin. . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(31 min, 25 balls, 2 fours)

D C Boon lbw b Watkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(1 min, 1 ball)

M E Waugh c Ramprakash b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . .49

(119 min, 75 balls, 5 fours)

* A R Border c Stewart b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . .17

(90 min, 73 balls, 1 four)

S R Waugh lbw b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

(101 min, 81 balls, 3 fours)

I A Healy c Maynard b Watkin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

(7 min, 10 balls, 1 four)

M G Hughes c Watkin b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(86 min, 68 balls)

P R Reiffel c and b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

(73 min, 59 balls, 5 fours)

S K Warne lbw b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37

(81 min, 63 balls, 6 fours)

T B A May not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

(16 min, 14 balls, 1 four)

Extras (b2 lb6 w2 nb7) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Total (335 min, 81.1 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229

Fall: 1-23 (Slater), 2-23 (Boon), 3-30 (Taylor), 4-92 (Border), 5-95 (M Waugh), 6-106 (Healy), 7-142 (S Waugh), 8-143 (Hughes), 9-217 (Reiffel), 10-229 (Warne).

Bowling: Malcolm 20-3-84-3 (nb7 w2) (8-3-27-0, 6- 0-25-2, 6-0-32-1); Watkin 25-9-65-4 (nb1) (10-4-23-3, 6-3-7-1, 7-2-28-0, 2-0-7-0); Fraser 19.1-5-44-3 (nb3) (8-2-19-0, 8-2-15-1, 3.1-1-10-2); Such 9-4-17-0 (6-1-17-0, 3-3-0-0); Hick 8-3-11-0 (4-3-2-0, 4-0-9-0).

Progress (fifth day): Overnight: 1-0 (Slater 1, Taylor 0) 4.2 overs. 50: 71 min, 15.3 overs. Lunch: 91-3 (M Waugh 47, Border 17) 32 overs. 100: 164 min, 36.4 overs. Tea: 148-8 (Reiffel 4, Warne 0) 61 overs. 150: 262 min, 62 overs. 200: 305 min, 73.5 overs. Innings closed: 5.16pm.

Umpires: B J Meyer, M J Kitchen, A A Jones.

Match Referee: C H Lloyd.

ENGLAND WON BY 161 RUNS

Man of the match: A R C Fraser. Adjudicator: R G D Willis.

Men of the series: England: G A Gooch. Adjudicator: R B Simpson. Australia: S K Warne. Adjudicator: K W R Fletcher.

County reports, scoreboard, page 31

(Photograph omitted)

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