First Test at Lord's: McGrath storms in to force abject surrender from sorry England

AUSTRALIA 190 & 384 ENGLAND 155 & 180 Australia won by 239 runs
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The Independent Online

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 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.

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.

Angus Fraser's highlight

England lost the match by 239 runs but their bowlers still made an impression. The second ball of the game, bowled by Stephen Harmison, hit Justin Langer on the right elbow and Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting on the head. Ponting also had stitches in a wound on his cheek. The ferocious bowling allowed Michael Vaughan's attack to dominate the series.

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