Tourists tuck in to a diet of moral fibre: The Australians pile up the runs as their predecessors provoke glorious memories and a familiar England collapse

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Gloucestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211

Australians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .400

FOR A while yesterday Jason de la Pena looked an England bowler, then Australia stopped carting him all over the field and he began taking wickets. It was not enough to prevent the tourists smashing 400 in 88 overs and taking a 189-run first-innings lead but it did provide solace for beleaguered Gloucestershire.

The 20-year-old, who missed all last season with a stress fracture suffered, of all places, on a Tasmanian building site, produced plenty of much- vaunted 'moral fibre' in the face of another Australian batting onslaught to take 4 for 77, more than doubling his career wicket-tally in the process.

Although there was an element of Sunday slogging in some of the wickets as a series of batsman got out after racking up half-centuries, his performance augurs well for a Gloucestershire side weak in every area except wicketkeeping. That gloveman, the forgotten Jack Russell, had earlier made most of the 28 runs his team added in the morning after resuming at 183 for 7.

Australia's keeper, Ian Healy, neither fielded nor batted after suffering a chipped right thumb, which makes him doubtful for the second Test which opens at Lord's on Thursday. Bobby Simpson, Australia's coach, said: 'The physio thinks he will be all right for the Test but we are keeping an eye on him.' The injury is of no consolation to England as Tim Zoehrer, Healy's deputy, is regarded as his equal both sides of the stumps - one reason Healy, who has played with breaks before, would have to be locked in his hotel room before he is prepared to hand over the gloves.

Damien Martyn took them yesterday, catching Russell to give Shane Warne his 32nd first-class wicket of the tour. Warne then appeared in the press box for a final 'pre-Test' interview before going into purdah, Simpson citing the enormous media interest created by his Old Trafford haul of wickets and weekend capture of new fiancee Simone.

'We've even had people calling him after midnight in his hotel room,' Simpson said - presumably friends from his time as a Bristol club player a few years ago who would not have expected to find him in before then.

'There has been a lot of attention in the last few days and it is very flattering,' Warne said. 'But it won't go to my head and I won't forget I am here to play cricket.' Warne added that he was unconcerned by England's decision not to pick a left- hander, saying: 'It doesn't worry me who is in the side.'

Merv Hughes took the other two wickets to fall, ending with 4 for 27, then was left not out four short of becoming Australia's fifth, and most entertaining, half-century maker as he added Bristol to the growing collection of grounds whose boundaries he has cleared. David Boon made the most impressive one and Martyn underlined the tourists' awesome batting depth with his sixth fifty of the tour.

Comments