Warne's last hurrah leaves England hung by a sorry tail

A résumé of Australia and England's first-innings batting in the fifth Test would conclude that it has been a tale of two tails. Australia's wagged like an expectant Labrador waiting for his master to take it for a walk, while England's was about as much use as a Dobermann pinscher's, only it did not last for as long.

After watching Australia reach 393 in their first innings England proceeded to lose five of their top batsmen for the addition of 114 runs. The total gave Andrew Flintoff's demoralised side a lead of just 12 runs, and it is fair to say Kevin Pietersen and England's lower-order willow wielders will need to enter new territory on the fourth day if they are to avoid the ignominy of a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

Shane Warne, predictably, played a key role in England's plight. In his final Test, Warne struck a colourful and crucial 71 before dismissing Flintoff in the penultimate over of the day.

The performance of the two teams' relative tails has been one of the many differences between these two sides. To date Australia's last five wickets have produced, on average, 47 runs each while England's have generated just 16. It means that Australia could go to bed last night believing that they were unlikely to be chasing more than 95 runs this morning.

England were reasonably placed on 245 for 4 in their first innings before Paul Collingwood edged a Glenn McGrath leg-cutter through to Gilchrist. The dismissal provoked a collapse that resulted in the visitors losing 6 for 46 and being dismissed for 291.

In reply Australia were in real danger of blowing the party to send three of the country's retiring heroes off in style when James Anderson dismissed Michael Hussey with the eighth ball of the morning. The hosts were on 190 for 5 as Gilchrist made his way to the centre of the Sydney Cricket Ground and England were fantasising about a first-innings lead. But the Australian fans need not have worried, even when Andrew Symonds was bowled for 48 having a heave across the line at Monty Panesar.

Warne was fully aware of how vulnerable England were and he attacked from the off. The first ball he faced was swept for four and the second was deposited in the crowd beyond the deep midwicket boundary. In an instant England's aspirations were nothing more than that.

Gilchrist needs little encouragement to go for his shots and the sight of Warne playing with abandon sent him into overdrive. He completed an incisive half- century off the 59th ball he faced and 40 runs were scored in four overs. Warne could have been dismissed three times before he had reached 20, but the umpire Aleem Dar failed to notice the ball clip his glove on the way through to Chris Read and England squandered two run-outs. Warne slog-swept Panesar for another six to bring up the 50-partnership but Australia's fun ended when Gilchrist was wrongly given out caught behind. Warne's dreams of an elusive Test hundred ended when he advanced down the pitch and was stumped by Read.

England's reply got off to a dreadful start when Alastair Cook top-edged the 15th ball straight up in the air.

A 93mph bouncer from Lee then felled Andrew Strauss. Lee showed no mercy to his opponent by following up with possibly his quickest ball of the series. The 95mph fizzer clipped Strauss's thigh on the way through to Gilchrist.

Strauss saw off Lee but was trapped plumb in front by the irresistible Stuart Clark. A subsequent scan revealed no damage had been caused. Ian Bell finished his tour off with an awful waft at Lee.

Paul Collingwood tried to support Pietersen and the pair rattled the Aussies. Words were exchanged between Warne and Collingwood and hopes rose. But these ended when Collingwood was caught in the gully and Warne bamboozled an England captain for the very last time.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world