MacGill and Warne lead assault as Australia rule World

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The Independent Online

Manifestly, Australia have made a full recovery from their Ashes defeat. Ricky Ponting led the side with renewed purpose, Adam Gilchrist was full of beans, Matthew Hayden has recreated himself, while Glenn McGrath and Warne remain near their peaks. Most of all, the support bowling was effective. It was an impressive performance.

Ponting must have been encouraged by the contributions of his back-up bowlers on this fourth day. Previously a weak link, Lee produced a sturdy effort indicating a recognition that profligacy is better left to dictators' wives and govern-ments seeking re-election.

Taking a leaf from Hayden's book, the flyer has tightened his game. He deserved his single, fortuitous, scalp. Inzamam-ul-Haq fell to a delivery that snaked back into his pads. Had Rudi Koertzen referred the appeal to his comrade in the pavilion, the mistake would been avoided. Instead, the lugubrious Pakistani had reason to rue his luck. Otherwise, right was served in this match. If the system of referrals is to be rejected it cannot be on the grounds of injustice.

MacGill also bowled admirably. Pitching his leg-break precisely on a chilly Monday morning, he bowled accurately enough to allow his captain to crowd forthright opponents. His googly remains as hard to read as James Joyce and his deliveries turned and bounced sharply from a dusty surface. Since he took wickets as doomed tailenders laid about themselves like drunken reapers, his figures (9 for 82) were flattering. Nevertheless he appeared settled, confident and dangerous. If he maintains form he will play a lot of Test cricket hereafter.

Even so, Warne was the best of the bowlers. Summoning another great performance, he prised out skilful batsmen. After an hour of resistance, Rahul Dravid was beaten by a delivery that faded and turned, Hayden pouncing upon the edge at slip. Brian Lara played some exquisite and adventurous strokes until he was confounded by a leg-break hidden amongst numerous sliders. Mark Boucher was dismissed by a ripper that turned and bounced and might as well have performed somersaults. In between, Inzy was dispatched as Lee's inswinger pierced a belated defensive stroke.

MacGill did the rest. Andrew Flintoff's bold innings ended as a sweep was held on the square-leg boundary, Daniel Vettori prodded to silly point, Steve Harmison did not detect the wrong 'un and Muttiah Muralitharan charged in a manner that would have pleased Lord Cardigan.

Naturally, the Australians were delighted. Doubtless the size of their pay cheques helped. Still, they are paid a pittance besides the fees dished out to American sports and chief executives.

Among the hosts, only Simon Katich has any cause for concern. Struck in the field, he incurred a slight fracture of a little finger. Brad Hodge is next in line. Despite his poor returns, Shane Watson will hold his place. Indeed, he has an important part to play. Provided he can slightly improve his work with the ball, he brings balance and energy to the side. Playing five bowlers is much easier when one of them can bat.

Contrastingly, everything went wrong for the visitors. Possibly the concept was doomed anyhow and the International Cricket Council chief executive, Malcolm Speed, cast doubt yesterday on whether the Super Series would be staged again. Poor selection, lost tosses, injuries, timing, bad weather, England's Ashes win and artificial venues counted against the project.

In hindsight a longer preparation was needed, and one group of players with one captain. No harm has been done, though. No one can be blamed for trying something. Much the same applies to the referring of appeals. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Australia v ICC World XI

(Sydney Cricket Ground)

Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings 345 (M L Hayden 111, A C Gilchrist 94; A Flintoff 4-59).

WORLD XI - First Innings 190 (V Sehwag 76; S C G MacGill 4-39).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings 199 (M L Hayden 77, R T Ponting 54).


(Overnight: 25 for 2)

R Dravid c Hayden b Warne 23

B C Lara c Gilchrist b Warne 36

J H Kallis not out 39

Inzamam-ul-Haq lbw b Lee 0

A Flintoff c Sub b MacGill 15

ÝM V Boucher c Hayden b Warne 17

D L Vettori c Ponting b MacGill 0

S J Harmison lbw b MacGill 0

M Muralitharan st Gilchrist b MacGill 0

Extras (b1 lb2 nb4) 7

Total (50 overs) 144

Fall: 1-0 2-18 3-56 4-69 5-70 6-122 7-143 8-144 9-144

Bowling: McGrath 6-3-8-1; Lee 10-2-42-1; Warne 19-4-48-3; MacGill 15-4-43-5.

Australia won by 210 runs.

Umpires: R A Koertzen (SA) and S J A Taufel (Aus).

Man of the match: M L Hayden (Aus).

Man of the series: A C Gilchrist (Aus).