Australia 419 and 156
England win by 106 runs Eight years is a long time to wait to win a Test match in Australia, and Michael Atherton was not about to start thinking long-term. Asked at the post-match press conference what England now planned to do before the fifth and final Test in Perth, the captain broke into the gummy grin that has been spotted somewhat infrequently on this tour, and said: "Get pissed."
Ah yes, but after that? Atherton then thought about England's planned trip up to South Australia's Barossa vineyards before leaving for Perth, grinned even more, and said: "Get pissed again, more than likely." Good luck to them. Champagne prices have gone up quite a bit since December 1986, when England embarked upon a sequence of six defeats and four draws in 10 Test matches on Australian soil.
It almost beggared belief that they could end that dismal record here yesterday, not least in the circumstances which applied at the start of the final day. Anyone fancying England to win were being quoted 6-1 at the betting tent, and as this was the onepart of the ground without a queue, clearly not many people did.
England began the day leading by only 154 with four second-innings wickets remaining, but so completely did Phillip DeFreitas trigger his team into an apparently unstoppable momentum that the game was virtually over by tea. At this point, however, there was yet another twist, as England were then kept waiting for 164 deliveries of the 212 they had in hand to take Australia's last two wickets.
On these occasions, when two batsmen are intent only on survival, the best ball to bowl is often the bad one, and whether by accident or design, Chris Lewis came up with the perfect long hop. Damien Fleming could not resist an agricultural heave, and waspalpably lbw as the ball came through just low enough on the deteriorating surface.
Fortunately for England, Australia's choice of Peter McIntyre in place of Tim May here (quite apart from the fact that McIntyre bowled like a drain) also left them with a thoroughbred no-hoper at No 11, and with 30 deliveries of the match remaining, Devon Malcolm's huge shout for a distinctly more marginal lbw decision produced the upraised finger.
The price to pay for this was being engulfed by the Barmy Army before they could rush off with their souvenir stumps, which was hardly surprising given that this is a routine with which England are thoroughly unfamiliar.
It was fitting that Malcolm should have taken the final wicket, in that it was his spell of three wickets in two overs with the new ball that set it up. However, as Australia's victory target had been raised by DeFreitas to an improbably high 263 from 67overs, it was also appropriate that DeFreitas should have ended up with the Man of the Match gong.
If, when England resumed at 154 for 6, you had known that Australia would be batting within an hour and a half, you would not have believed that they could be chasing much above 200.
However, in the space of 80 minutes, England plundered another 108 runs, and DeFreitas went from 20 not out to 88 with such clinical violence that Craig McDermott's bowling figures were grotesquely re-arranged.
In these situations, there is normally no one that England can rely upon to be more unreliable than DeFreitas. A couple of fours, slog it up in the air, thanks very much Daffy, and a chorus of "brainless twerp" from the dressing room. This has been more or less the case (mirrored by a Test average of 15.6) ever since DeFreitas was part of England's last winning Test side in Australia in 1986.
DeFreitas's comparative failure to live up to the high promise of those early years is largely the result of his being too impressionable and immature in his developing years, and yesterday he showed that he really did have it in him to become an all-rounder approaching Ian Botham's class, had he not taken several wrong turnings down the hard road of professional cricket.
McDermott's first three overs with the second new ball went for 41, and in one of those overs DeFreitas, having not long earlier been doubled up when McDermott hit him in the box, smashed him for 4, 4, 4, 4, 6. It was a great shame when he finally perished by the sword 12 runs short of a maiden Test century, but by then he had given England such a lift that even Malcolm came in and hoiked Shane Warne for 10 in two balls.
If anyone was in any doubt about Australia's ability to get the runs, however, it was neither the ground announcer ("and here come Mark Taylor and Michael Slater to take up the attack for Australia!") nor the bookies, who did not quote any one of Australia's top six at worse than 2-1 to make a century. As it happened, Australia's top six made 58 between them.
Malcolm has been implored to bowl with more aggression by his captain on this tour ("Dev is such a lovely bloke, and we don't want to change that, but we need him to be as fired up as he was here" Atherton said afterwards) and he responded by ripping outTaylor, Slater and Steve Waugh straight after lunch. With Angus Fraser also getting rid of David Boon, Australia went from 17 for 0 to 23 for 4 in 17 balls.
Philip Tufnell, who has been used so negatively in this series that he can no longer get anyone out other than by bowling over the wicket into the rough, at least got a vital one in this way yesterday, albeit in bizarre circumstances. Mark Waugh clipped one off his hip down on to Gatting's boot at short leg, and the ball rolled up Gatting's trouser leg and into his fingers.
However, the next crucial spell came from Lewis, who managed to get the ball to reverse swing, and he picked up the next three wickets for four runs in three overs. He was agreeably aggressive for a change, although the hand signals he employed in issuing McDermott with directions back to the pavilion were undeniably gratuitous, and his fine was well merited.
Then came the potential trauma of being denied by Ian Healy (who stuck it out for over three and a half hours) and Fleming, and if Australia had hung on, England would have been so deflated that Australia would probably have won inside two days in Perth.
It is remarkable how England have developed the nasty habit of only starting a series once it is effectively over, and even though they can still square this one, the Ashes are already in Australia's back pocket. If England are to win in South Africa next winter, perhaps they should start the tour straight after the Benson and Hedges Cup final.
n Australia have left out the pace bowler, Damien Fleming, who has a pulled hamstring, and the leg-spinner Peter McIntyre for the fifth Test. They have been replaced in a 12-man squad by the Western Australia seamers, Jo Angel and Brendon Julian.
AUSTRALIAN Squad (Fifth Test v England, Perth, 3-7 February): *M A Taylor, M J Slater, D C Boon, M E Waugh, S R Waugh, G S Blewett, I A Healy, B P Julian, S K Warne, J Angel, C J McDermott, G D McGrath.
More cricket, page 31
countdown to victory 11.00 Final day starts with England 220 for 6, just 154 ahead, Crawley on 49, DeFreitas 20.
11.05 Crawley reaches 50 with two off McDermott. Next ball he falls and ricks his neck.
11.10 Physio Dave Roberts treats Crawley's neck.
11.34 McDermott takes new ball but 12 come off the first over, including six to DeFreitas over square leg. A man wearing a felt hat in the 10th row holds a good catch.
11.45 Crawley out to Mark Waugh's third ball of the day.
11.49 McDermott hits DeFreitas on the ankle. Next ball goes for four.
11.50 The next ball hits DeFreitas on the box, he sinks to his knees and Roberts is back in action. DeFreitas hits the next ball for three.
11.58 DeFreitas hits McDermott, now at the City End, for 22 in an over - 4, 4, 0, 4, 4, 6.
12.03 Drinks break. England have scored 85 from the first 15 overs of the day, 59 to DeFreitas.
12.13 Fraser out after a stand of 47 in 35 balls with DeFreitas.
12.16 DeFreitas out to Mark Waugh who has 5 for 40, his best bowling in Tests. DeFreitas receives standing ovation from a crowd of 12,000 after adding 68 in 51 balls today.
12.19 Devon Malcolm hits Shane Warne for six and four.
12.21 Phil Tufnell lbw to Warne, England all out 328 after addng 108 for four wickets in 18.5 overs.
12.32 Mark Taylor faces the first ball of the Australian second innings from Malcolm with Australia needing 263 off a minimum of 67 overs at 3.925 runs an over. Ramprakash is fielding for Crawley.
12.36 After one over Malcolm tells Mike Atherton the crosswind is too strong and that he wants to bowl at the other end.
12.53 Malcolm replaces Fraser at the City End 1.01 Lunch at 16 for 0.
1.40 Restart. Australia now need 4.12 runs an over.
1.48 Taylor out.
1.57 Boon out.
2.02 Slater out.
2.05 Steve Waugh out and Malcolm has three wickets for four runs in 12 balls.
2.32 Lewis replaces Malcolm who has bowled 7-1-16-3.
2.50 Ten runs and three byes off DeFreitas's fifth over.
2.42 Drinks break at 46 for 4 .
2.56 Mark Waugh out.
3.20 Blewett out.
3.39 Warne out to the last ball before tea at 83 for 7.
4.00 Lewis completes his fifth over to McDermott, having him caught off the sixth ball. Lewis now has figures of 5-1-10-3.
4.22 Australia reach 100 for 8 off 38.1 overs.
4.47 Collision between eager fielders DeFreitas and Lewis.
5.22 Drinks break at 138 for 8.
5.24 Umpire Venkataraghavan signals that the final hour of the match is starting. A minimum of 15 overs have to be bowled.
5.55 Fleming out to the last ball of the seventh of the final 15 overs.
6.06 McIntyre out with 35 balls remaining and England have won by 106 runs. Ted CorbettReuse content