Aussie openers frustrate England

Having been dismissed for 373 shortly before lunch on the second day - a total slightly under par on a good batting wicket - England's hopes of a series victory were dependant on making early inroads into Australia's mis-firing batting line-up.

But for the first time this summer, openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden forged a century stand and guided Australia to a convincing 112 without loss at tea after exposing the limitations of England's gamble to include only four specialist bowlers in their line-up.

Langer was the more aggressive of the pair as Hayden was still searching for the fluency which has escaped him during this series and claimed his third half-century of the summer off only 63 balls.

He reached that landmark by hitting 14 off the opening over from left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, which included two sixes in three balls, and set the tempo for Australia while Hayden concentrated on giving his partner as much of the strike as possible.

England's only chance of making the breakthrough came through all-rounder Paul Collingwood, preferred to James Anderson as Simon Jones' replacement, who almost ended Langer's threatening innings with his eighth delivery.

Attempting to cut a ball which was too close to his body, Langer edged to Marcus Trescothick at slip but he dropped the chance after diving high to his right and enabled Australia's opener to escape on 53.

While Langer raced to an unbeaten 75 at tea, Hayden struggled and took 81 minutes to reach double figures when he cut Steve Harmison for only his second boundary but by tea had progressed to 32.

Resuming on a disappointing 319 for seven, England were hoping wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, who hit a crucial 85 to help win the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, could guide them towards a competitive first-innings total of around 400.

But instead of Jones propelling England forward, it was the tail-enders who again contributed useful runs after defying Australia's efforts to wrap up the innings quickly this morning.

Jones had guided England past the 300-mark the previous evening with an unbeaten 21 and started brightly on the third morning by cutting fast bowler Brett Lee for the first boundary of the day in the second over.

Lee responded superbly to that early blow by knocking back Jones' off-stump with the the next ball, a full-length delivery which evaded a defensive forward lunge and earned Australia an early breakthrough.

But it was a further 11 overs before the tourists tasted success again with Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard - the heroes of Trent Bridge after they guided England to their tense triumph - combining again in a determined 20-run stand.

Hoggard was perhaps fortunate to survive a dropped slip chance before he had scored when he edged Glenn McGrath and Langer was unable to take the chance diving across Shane Warne from second slip while Giles survived an appeal for a catch behind in the same over.

Umpire Rudi Koertzen's rejection of that appeal annoyed Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who continued his protests at the end of the over, but only had to wait two further overs before McGrath finally ended the stubborn stand.

Hoggard had batted for 46 minutes for his two runs when he was finally outwitted by a McGrath slower ball, which he chipped straight to Damien Martyn at wide mid-off, but England's resistance was still not broken.

Instead of crumbling, Steve Harmison walked out to bat and went on the offensive, contributing a useful 20 to a 28-run last wicket stand off only 31 balls which took England past 350.

The partnership was finally ended when Warne, introduced into the attack in a desperate attempt to wrap up the innings, won an lbw appeal against Giles despite him pushing well forward to claim his 34th wicket of the series and matching his best Ashes tally set in 1993.

England v Australia

The Brit Oval England Won Toss

Overnight: England 319-7 (A J Strauss 129, A Flintoff 72; S K Warne5-118).

England First Innings

G O Jones b Lee 25

A F Giles lbw b Warne 32

M J Hoggard c Martyn b McGrath 2

S J Harmison not out 20

Extras b4 lb6 w1 nb7 18

Total (105.3 overs) 373

Fall: 1-82 2-102 3-104 4-131 5-274 6-289 7-297 8-325 9-345

Bowling: McGrath 27 5 72 2

Lee 23 3 94 1

Tait 15 1 61 1

Warne 37.3 5 122 6

Katich 3 0 14 0

Australia First Innings Bad Light Stopped Play. Tea

J L Langer not out 75

M L Hayden not out 32

Extras lb2 nb3 pens 0 5

Total 0 wkts (33 overs) 112

To Bat: R T Ponting, D R Martyn, M J Clarke, S M Katich,A C Gilchrist, S K Warne, S W Tait, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Harmison 8 1 21 0

Hoggard 7 1 21 0

Flintoff 7 2 20 0

Giles 7 0 31 0

Collingwood 4 0 17 0

Umpires: B F Bowden and R E Koertzen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee