Cricket: Such is ice-cold in the big heat

Australia 266 for 4 v England
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The Independent Online
THERE WAS an apology to the nation in Adelaide, and for once it didn't come from England despite fielding all day in searing temperatures around the 110 degree mark. Australia has found it difficult to come to terms with the scandal of the last few days and Denis Rogers, the current chairman of the Australian Cricket Board, went on air to beg forgiveness on behalf of the ACB and Mark Waugh and Shane Warne, the pair fined for accepting money from Indian bookmakers in 1994. Later he promised a formal inquiry into the cover-up, just to make sure there were "no sleepers about".

Actually, laying doggo was about the upper limit of ambition for most people in Adelaide. When the wind comes off the red interior even mad dogs lie low, a precaution that just left the Englishmen and one Australian, Justin Langer, to spend more time than was sensible in the scorching conditions.

The draining stay paid off handsomely for the West Australian, who scored his second Test century. At one stage Langer was being watered and fed (bananas as it happens) every 15 minutes as dehydration took its toll. Speaking after spending 332 minutes at the crease, he said conditions were the hottest he had ever encountered in a Test match. Several of Engand's bowlers suffered cramp.

On a day when batting first was not only prudent due to the pitch, but necessary because of the intense heat, the third lost toss of the series meant that England were dealt a nigh on impossible hand. Mind you, they made a decent fist of it.

Alec Stewart played his joker - at least that is how most Australians seemed to view Peter Such's surprise selection - and played him well, though two more dropped catches meant, as it has done all tour, that the situation at the end of play should have been better. Such's inclusion, in place of fast bowler Alex Tudor, the find of Perth, was as controversial as it was bold. Such last played for England 50 Tests ago and his inclusion caught just about everyone on the hop.

It was the right decision. Tudor's big frame and long run up are not what nature would normally have provided to exploit a blast furnace.

Considering Such last played in the middle five weeks ago, it was a brave and inspired choice and his 2 for 57 from 27 overs was a job extremely well done. At one stage he had bowled unchanged for about three hours and looked hot enough to boil a kettle on his head.

For once England had a measure of control, with a spin bowler who could string together a meaningful sequence of dot balls, preventing runs rather than leaking them as Robert Croft has tended to do. In some ways, apart from Langer's knock and another defiant half-century from Steve Waugh, England ran proceedings for most of the day.

After the furore of the past few days the other Waugh barely featured. Arriving at the fall of the second wicket, Mark Waugh was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos, the latter mainly coming from the better- heeled in the Members' Stand.

If his mind was on pitch and weather reports - apparently a phone-in on one of the TV channels revealed that 51 per cent of viewers believe he and Shane Warne should never play for Australia again - it was soon focussed on the cricket by a superb first-ball bouncer from Darren Gough.

Gough has been the unluckiest bowler in the series with as many dropped catches off his deliveries as wickets. He was again a victim of England's habit of standing too deep at slip and he should have had Mark Taylor out for nought in the third over of the day. Instead, a difficult chance that just carried to Graeme Hick was put down, and by the time Such forced the Aussie skipper to dab to Nasser Hussain at slip the spill had cost England 59 runs.

Gough gave Mark Waugh a roasting and the aggression paid dividends, though not for Gough. During his time at Essex, Waugh never once got out to Such in the nets - now, with his feet almost as tangled as his mind, he succumbed for seven, driving loosely to provide a simple return catch.

Langer, fighting here for his place, fed off the pressure. A compact left-hander of few strokes and pretensions, his efforts went barely noticed by the 13,500 crowd in the half-filled ground.

With an early pull for four off Headley, who had just had Michael Slater caught behind - three balls after he was dropped at cover by Mark Ramprakash - the next most memorable shot came when Langer leg-glanced Gough for four to move to 99. Otherwise he nudged, nurdled, clipped and generally worked his way to three figures.

Steve Waugh was similarly attentive. After swishing Such for an early six over midwicket, he batted with the calm authority of an undertaker, but he is a runaholic and again went about preparing England's coffin, a nail at a time, as he and Langer added 108 for the fourth wicket.

Stewart took the second new ball and recalled Gough. Four balls later, and more than six hours after his first over, Gough got among the wickets as Hick caught Waugh low down at second slip.

ENGLAND'S MISSED CHANCES

FIRST TEST, BRISBANE

Hussain: 2nd slip, Slater edged Mullally, half chance. Was 5, made 16.

Mullally: Fluffed chance to run-out S R Waugh. Was 29, made112.

Hussain: 2nd slip. Dropped S R Waugh off Gough. Was 68, made 112.

Fraser: 3rd man. Dropped Healy skyer off Gough. Was 36, made 134.

SECOND TEST, PERTH

Hick: 2nd slip. Sitter off Gough. Taylor was 38, made 61.

Hollioake: Gulley. Difficult, diving chance off Gough. Slater was 15, made 34.

Hick: 2nd slip. Fingertip chance, off Tudor. Slater was 25, made 34.

Butcher: 3rd slip. Leaping chance off Mullally. S R Waugh was 11, made 33.

Mullally: Extra cover. Failed to take hard catch, off Gough. S R Waugh was 20, made 33.

Gough: Long leg. Miscued hook to him, off Tudor. Ponting was 9, made 11.

Mullally: 2nd innings. Fumbled return catch. Slater was 7, made 17.

THIRD TEST, ADELAIDE

Hick: 2nd slip. Fingertip catch, off Gough, half chance. Taylor was 0, made 59.

Ramprakash: Point. Spilled straightforward chance, off Mullally. Taylor was 12, made 59.

ADELAIDE SCOREBOARD

First day; Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First innings

M J Slater c Stewart b Headley 17

52 min, 37 balls, 1 four

*M A Taylor c Hussain b Such 59

185 min, 124 balls, 5 fours

J L Langer not out 108

332 min, 244 balls, 7 fours

M E Waugh c and b Such 7

35 min, 30 balls

S R Waugh c Hick b Gough 59

149 min, 109 balls, 4 fours, 1 six

R T Ponting not out 0

13 min, 7 balls

Extras (lb5, nb11) 16

Total (for 4, 385 min, 90 overs) 266

Fall: 1-28 (Slater), 2-140 (Taylor), 3-156 (M E Waugh), 4-264 (S Waugh).

To bat: I A Healy, D W Fleming, S C G MacGill, C R Miller, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Gough 20-2-74-1 (nb5) (8-2-21-0, 2-0-19-0, 5-0-17-0, 3-0-12- 0, 2-0-5-1); Mullally 20-5-39-0 (4-0-8-0, 5-0-14-0, 2-2-0-0, 1-0-5-0, 1-1-0-0, 4-0-11-0, 1-0-1-0, 2-2-0-0); Headley 14-0-64-1 (nb5) (6-0-27- 1, 2-0-14-0, 1-0-4-0, 1-0-5-0, 3-0-12-0, 1-0-2-0); Such 27-7-57-2 (nb1) (4-2-2-0, 18-4-43-2, 5-1-12-0); Ramprakash 9-1-27-0 (1-0-2-0, 4-0-15- 0, 4-1-10-0).

Progress: 50: 79 min, 17.4 overs. Lunch: 78-1 (Taylor 30, Langer 23) 28 overs. 100: 132 min, 31 overs. 150: 207 min, 48.2 overs. Tea: 173-3 (Langer 67, S R Waugh 10) 56 overs. 200: 274 min, 64.1 overs. 250: 350 min, 81.0 overs. New ball taken after 86 overs at 260 for 3.

Taylor 50: 155 min, 107 balls, 5 fours.

Langer 50: 121 min, 99 balls, 4 fours. 100: 277 min, 197 balls, 7 fours.

S R Waugh 50: 134 min, 99 balls, 3 fours, 1 six.

ENGLAND: M A Butcher, M A Atherton, N Hussain, *+A J Stewart, M R Ramprakash, J P Crawley, G A Hick, D Gough, D W Headley, A D Mullally, P M Such.

Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and S J Davis.

TV Replay Umpire: P Angley.

Match Referee: J R Reid.

Compiled by Jo King

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