Symonds returns to full power as Australia discover ruthless edge

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The Independent Online

Australia's cricketers may have been spooked on their visit to the North-east, but it was England's bowlers who looked ashen-faced as they walked off the Riverside ground yesterday evening.

The fragile nature of Australia's bowling at the start of this tour means that England are capable of chasing down the tourists' total of 266 for 5, but would need to play in a far more composed manner than they did at Bristol on Sunday.

Australia's competitive score was built around a fourth-wicket partnership of 143 between Andrew Symonds and Damien Martyn. Symonds, after serving a two-match disciplinary ban, highlighted his importance to Australia's limited-over side with an excellent innings of 73. And he was given superb support by Martyn, who compiled a typically elegant 68.

Australia's total would have been considerably higher but for some excellent bowling from Darren Gough and Stephen Harmison. Gough was magnificent at the end of Australia's innings, conceding only 19 runs in his final four overs. Harmison was a trifle more expensive but it was the fast bowlers' hostile spell mid-innings which prevented the visitors posting a score close to 300.

Symonds and Martyn came together with Australia wobbling on 96 for 3.

Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden had been dismissed in five balls and England would have been hoping to restrict the tourists to a score of less than 250.

But through a combination of intelligent placement and the odd powerful shot the scoreboard was kept ticking over. Symonds is one of the most dangerous batsmen in one-day cricket. The right-hander has enormous power and is capable of taking any attack apart. His 81-ball innings contained two sixes and he was about to launch a final assault when Marcus Trescothick ran him out with a direct hit from extra cover.

England's selectors showed no sentiment towards Jon Lewis when they dropped him for Chris Tremlett. The Gloucestershire seamer could feel aggrieved but the selectors' judgement is sound. Tremlett is a far more exciting prospect than Lewis, and if England see him as potential member of their 2007 World Cup squad, it is right to begin exposing him now.

Bangladesh offered the lanky fast bowler a gentle introduction to international cricket on Tuesday evening, but lining up against Adam Gilchrist and Hayden, two of the best batsmen in the world, is something else. Tremlett did not look nervous as he ran in to bowl but he quickly found out that life in these circles is ruthless.

Hayden clipped the 23-year-old for four in his first over, and Gilchrist clobbered him for two boundaries in his second. Trescothick, standing in as captain for the injured Michael Vaughan, would have been tempted to remove Tremlett from the attack but he showed confidence in the youngster.

And it proved to be a wise decision. In an attempt to cramp the left-handers for room Tremlett came round the wicket and it allowed him to claim the first major scalp of his international career. Gilchrist has shown glimpses of what he can do, but he has yet to find form on the tour. Nevertheless he remains the batsman England's bowlers are most keen to see the back of.

Tremlett is 6ft 7in and the bounce he extracts from a pitch is his biggest asset. It was this that unsettled the Australian, finding the top edge of his bat as he attempted to cut a bowl over gully. Geraint Jones' wicketkeeping has received plenty of criticism but on this occasion he took an excellent catch leaping to his left.

Ponting, like Gilchrist, has yet to post a significant score on the tour. In two NatWest innings the Australian captain had scored just a solitary run, and during his 40-ball innings he still looked far from at his best.

There were a couple of class shots, a front-footed cut and a clip over square leg, but Harmison's hostility appeared to unsettle him. The Durham fast bowler, cheered by a record Riverside crowd of 15,600, bowled as if it was a Test match. Ponting scored his 8,000th one-day run against a rare full delivery.

Frustrated by the tactics, the right-hander attempted to get after Andrew Flintoff. While trying to achieve this Ponting should have been dismissed three runs before he fell.

England's fielding, in comparison to previous matches in the tournament, was disappointing and looked lethargic. This was highlighted when neither Paul Collingwood or Kevin Pietersen went for a chipped drive from Ponting Both fielders could have caught the ball but they left it for each other and the error failed to prove costly as Ponting, in the next over, cut Harmison to third man and Ashley Giles took a good diving catch. And five balls later a subdued Hayden was following him back to the pavilion caught by Jones.

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