Warne's travails deliver footnote to triumph

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The Independent Online

Now is not the time to dwell upon the travails of a battered touring party. The Poms showed little of the fierce spirit detected in their defeat at Lord's in 2005. Suffice it to say that the visiting captain sounded weary at his press conference. He has more on his plate than one of Marie Antoinette's bosom pals. England might consider playing their subcontinental contingent in Adelaide.

Churlish as it might seem to find flaws with a team that romped to victory, Australia periodically frayed at the edges. Certainly, the batting was superb. Justin Langer did not appear quite as close to a pension as had been thought. Matthew Hayden looked composed. Damien Martyn's form has been sound. Ricky Ponting did not look too bad. Michael Clarke stayed long enough to confirm his maturity.

The bowling was less convincing. Admittedly the Gabba surface was slower than usual: even on the fifth morning, Shane Warne could not find much to interest him. Pitches across the country have slowed down, a deterioration that ought to worry authorities more than the cheerful antics of visiting spectators.

Warne's response to the somnambulant surface was to give the ball more flight. In his pomp he drives the ball down the pitch. Here he varied his pace but lacked spin. Previously glued to the crease, the Englishmen stepped forwards confidently. Warne needs a new plan for Kevin Pietersen.

Nor did Adam Gilchrist have his happiest match. As has been revealed, though, it is not wise to discount the possibility of a renaissance. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between an eclipse and the fall of the long night.

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