Slater's run-out reprieve

Australia 322 and 74-4 England 220

ANOTHER THIRD umpire controversy marred an exciting third morning in Sydney as England's bowlers once again showed their battling qualities to bring their side back into the game. England were convinced they had run out opener Michael Slater, but he survived the close call to reach lunch on 47 not out.

So far this Test has not paused for breathe and England did not have to wait long for their first success. In the first over of the morning Darren Gough had Mark Taylor caught at first slip.

With 228 runs at an average of 22.8, Taylor has enjoyed a moderate series. Once again there was no obvious reason for his dismissal other than that the ball was full and directed towards off-stump; which is sometimes enough when you are left-handed.

Three overs later, England's forceful start was given yet more impetus with the wicket of Justin Langer, lbw to Dean Headley. Another left-hander, Langer was pinned on the back foot. If it looked plumb, replays showed that the ball pitched outside leg-stump.

Headley, following a sketchy start in the heat of Adelaide, has improved to the point where he looks England's most dangerous bowler. Since Melbourne he has come to realise that he must bowl every spell with gusto and he spent the morning flinging himself at the batsmen.

But Australia, despite their recent collapses, are still a tough nut to crack and running repairs, performed by Mark Waugh and Michael Slater, were soon underway. Waugh in particular played several shots of impeccable breeding, the best being an on-drive for 4 off Headley, who later got his revenge when he had Waugh brilliantly caught by Mark Ramprakash at square-leg.

England will not have felt entirely satisfied and they clearly felt they had run out Slater, after a superb pick up and throw from Headley at long- on hit the stumps direct. Certainly Slater, on 36 at the time, felt he was out, a view more or less confirmed by TV replay. Only the third umpire Simon Taufel, who had never officiated in a Test match, felt there was doubt and Slater survived.

Fortunately for England Darren Lehmann, batting at five because of a hamstring injury to Steve Waugh, did not detain them long and pushing stiffly at Peter Such he was caught off the face of the bat by John Crawley at silly point.

Next ball Ian Healy, pushing forward to Such, was missed by Mark Butcher at silly point. It was a difficult chance but one England could have done with as Australia went to lunch on 74 for 4.

SCOREBOARD

Lunch on the third day

AUSTRALIA - First innings 322

ENGLAND - First innings 220

AUSTRALIA - Second innings

M J Slater not out 47

*M A Taylor c Stewart b Gough 2

J L Langer lbw b Headley 1

M E Waugh c Ramprakash b Headley 24

D S Lehmann c Crawley b Such 0

I A Healy not out 0

Extras 0

Total (for 4, 34 overs) 74

Fall of wickets: 1-16 2-25 3-64 4-73

Bowling: Headley 11-5-19-2; Gough 8-2-17-1; Such 10-2-30-1; Tudor 5-2- 8-0.

To bat: S R Waugh,S K Warne, S C G MacGill, C R Miller, G D McGrath.

Umpires: R S Dunne (NZ) and D B Hair (Aus).

Wasim Akram, who is involved in an inquiry into alleged corruption in Pakistan cricket, is to captain his country on their tour of India and in this summer's World Cup in England.

England in a spin, page 20

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