Accolade slips from Warne's grasp as diabolical duo dispatch England - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Accolade slips from Warne's grasp as diabolical duo dispatch England

AUSTRALIA 190 & 384
ENGLAND 155 & 180
Australia win by 239 runs

The wooden board, which commemorates every performance of this magnitude at the ground, is the poorer without the name of S K Warne on it, but at least the 35-year-old had the satisfaction of taking the catch which took Australia to a memorable victory.

It was the equally brilliant McGrath who deprived Warne in what will probably be his last Test appearance at Lord's. The fast bowler took four wickets for three runs in 23 deliveries as England capitulated from their overnight score of 156 for 5 to 180 all out in 50 demoralising minutes of play.

"It is a shame that Shane's name is not on the honours board here," said Ricky Ponting, the jubilant Australian captain. "We talked about it in the slips and half- expected that last catch to go down. But Shane has got his name in most other record books."

It was fitting that Simon Jones was "c Warne b McGrath" because it was the bowling of these two greats which dashed England's hopes, and highlighted the vacuum in class that still exists between these two teams. McGrath finished the match with the awesome figures of 9 for 82, yet it was Warne who led the Australians into the Lord's Pavilion with a souvenir stump in one hand, the match ball in his pocket and the outstanding analysis of 6 for 82.

Before this match Matthew Hoggard had the gall to suggest these two cricketers were over the hill. It will go down as one of the most ill-considered comments in Ashes history. After receiving his man of the match award McGrath went to join his family in the Mound Stand. "We have a better chance of winning the series 5-0 than we had four days ago," said Ponting. "This Test match has shown a lot of similarities to first Tests in other Ashes series, and we have managed to go on and win other series. There are a few little areas that we can improve on but our bowling was exceptional.

"Glenn led from the front and his spell on the first day changed the course of the game. After being bowled out for 190 we knew we would have to work very hard to get back into it.

"I don't believe we have broken the English spirit but I think we have gone a little way to doing it. England made some big mistakes at crucial times - the Michael Clarke catch being one of them. They dropped seven or eight catches in the game, which has happened in other Ashes Tests."

But what now for England? That five of Michael Vaughan's team had not played a Test against Australia was deemed to be an advantage, because they would not bring the mental scarring of previous failed campaigns into this series. The players will attempt to put on a brave front. They will state that England underperformed, and that when they play to their full potential they can compete with this great Australian team. Indeed they can. But, sadly, only when Australia do not play to theirs. And after this drubbing several of them will now realise just how good Ponting's side is, and the size of the task they face.

This was a very good Australian performance but they can play better. The tourists' batting on the first day was poor and several of their star names - Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Ponting - failed to perform. But, in the same breath, it is hard to believe that McGrath will bowl with such precision in the second Test at Edgbaston in 10 days' time.

During this period Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, have a lot of work to do. There will be calls from some quarters to change the team, but this would achieve very little. This was England's best team at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning and it should be in Birmingham on 4 August.

During the first half of the day it appeared as though persistent rain might saveEngland, but at approximately 2.30pm the cloud cover began to break in the east. Mick Hunt and his groundstaff quickly removed the covers and the new Lord's outfield - relaid with new drainage in the winter of 2002-03 - allowed play to start at 3.45.

Geraint Jones was the first to go when he inexplicably pulled McGrath to Jason Gillespie at mid-on. The England wicketkeeper has had a difficult match. He took four catches in Australia's first innings but his performance on Saturday, when he dropped two straightforward catches, and his awful stroke yesterday, will once again raise questions about his position in the side.

On this occasion the catches had little impact - Australia were out of sight well before he grassed Gillespie and McGrath - but this will not always be the case. Ashley Giles drove limply to Hayden in the gully two balls later. Another squall caused the players to leave the field for 10 minutes, but that only delayed the inevitable.

Hoggard bagged a pair and the admirable Kevin Pietersen, on his Test debut, brought up his second half-century in the match before a Warne slider - a straight ball - thudded into Stephen Harmison's pads. A wild slog by Jones almost gave the Victorian a deserved fifth wicket, but it was not to be.

Vaughan avoided the question of whether England could still win the Ashes, preferring to be optimistic. "You have to look forward," he said. "England have played Australia with experienced players before and lost 4-1 and 4-0. These are a young set of players, give them a chance. They've lost one game; let's go into the next game and try to improve."

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