Martyn's master class

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The Independent Online

It was almost as if Australia were hell bent on paying England back for that 903 for 7 declared at The Oval in 1938, but that was a timeless Test Match. Steve Waugh's main objective now was to make sure his bowlers had time to dismiss them twice.

From the first ball of the innings this was an awesome display of batting by Australia as it is almost bound to be when the Waughs contribute 100 each, even though Steve played largely on one leg.

For me, the best moment came in an over bowled late in the afternoon by Jimmy Ormond, who had again looked the most likely of the bowlers and handled a chastening experience better than could have been expected. He bowled the 138th over of the innings to Damien Martyn, who had shown us last week at Headingley that he is perhaps the most talented of all the Australian batsmen.

He began now by off-driving Ormond just to the right of Nasser Hussain at a straightish extra cover. It was a stroke which will have made a great many people sit up. There was a timeless, classical grace about it which no other stroke in two days of pretty outrageous stroke play, could match. It was played with a beautiful flowing arc of the bat and was executed with a precision which placed the ball carefully out of Hussain's reach.

Ormond did not pitch the next ball so far up, but Martyn was ready, swaying backwards to give himself more room. Then came a glorious square cut, the product of supple wrists and a natural sense of timing which sent the ball past Mike Atherton at backward point and to the left of Mark Ramprakash on the cover boundary.

Martyn and Steve Waugh then exchanged singles before Martyn faced the last ball. He came forward to one which was a fraction over pitched and with another gem of a stroke, he drove it to the left of Usman Afzaal, who was standing straight at mid-on. They were all strokes to take home and dream about.