Cricket: Third Test: Border line centres on relief at result

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The Independent Online
ALLAN BORDER is used to the sweet aroma of champagne at the end of Test matches against England, but this time it was different. Instead of being in the Australian dressing-room trying to avoid Merv Hughes spraying it around, he was entering a press conference still reeking of Graham Thorpe's new 'eau de Mumm' aftershave.

And something else was different. Instead of rejoicing in another win, he was grateful to have managed a draw. 'Our cricket has gone off the boil. England put a lot of pressure on us and we are relieved to escape with a draw. We were in a real Test match this time. If there was any complacency in the side I think it has been knocked out of us. We still have a Test series on our hands.'

Border denied Australia's performance had been affected by Clive Lloyd's censure of the team, but said he thought the match referee's action had been 'petty' and, referring to 'our so- called bad behaviour', added: 'We play by the rules.'

The only suggestion of dissent yesterday came when Ian Healy was leg before to the ball before tea and lingered moodily at the crease. His reaction was mirrored in an increasingly worried dressing-room and Border said: 'It was a crunch time, you could sense the pressure at tea. It was good to hang on rather than buckle under.'

The men responsible for saving the match, Brendon Julian and Steve Waugh, are the only players whose names are pencilled on to the team sheet rather than cast in stone and both were playing for their places.

Waugh is defending his position against the rampaging talents of Damien Martyn, while Julian came in with his all- rounder tag beginning to look as accurate as Chris Lewis's with a top tour score of 28 and an innocuous match with the ball.

'It was perfect timing for Brendon to come good,' Border said. 'He always had talent and it was best that he played his natural game. Steve's been struggling in recent weeks and he stuck to it well.'

Australia's main concern remains Hughes, who went to London with Errol Alcott, the physiotherapist, for treatment last night while the team headed for Stone to play the Minor Counties. Hughes will also miss the weekend trip to Ireland - which could mean a slump in Guinness shares - rejoining the team in Derby next week.

While Border said he expected Hughes to play at Headingley on 22 July, Australia are considering possible replacements. The Test bowlers, Chris Matthews and Joe Angel, are playing in Lancashire while Mike Whitney, who missed the tour through injury, flies in this week for Channel 9 TV and is said to be 'bringing his whites'.

While Australia are likely to turn to experience, England's move to youth was backed by Border, who said: 'They appeared to be far more enthusiastic. There was a lot more aggression and positive play.'

Graham Gooch echoed that when he said: 'All the young lads can be proud of how they played. They are fresh, lively and lifted team spirit. The series is still up for grabs.'

He added that, while he would be available for the new captain next summer, there was 'no prospect of going to the West Indies with a bat'.

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