Australia regain control in Ashes opener

First Test, Day 3: Australia 492 and 111-2 v England 325

From Myles Hodgson,Pa Sport,Brisbane
Saturday 09 November 2002 01:00

Australia took control of the opening Test in Brisbane today after their formidable pace battery utilised the new ball to ensure a healthy first innings lead over England at the Gabba.

Resuming 334 adrift on 158 for one, the tourists had overcome the early loss of two wickets to reach mid-afternoon without further loss with captain Nasser Hussain forging a determined 97-run partnership with John Crawley.

But the new ball halted England's revival and they lost their last six wickets for 57 in 21 overs and slumped to 325 all out with John Crawley finishing unbeaten on 69 after over two hours of defiance at the crease.

Despite two early wickets from Andrew Caddick when Australia began their second innings 167 runs ahead, they had progressed to a lead of 278 by the close of the third day with Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn forging an unbroken 72-run partnership to reach 111 for two.

England had begun the third day as they had finished the second with Trescothick, who resumed overnight on 63, driving Glenn McGrath twice down the ground for four off successive balls in the second over of the morning.

But McGrath got his revenge in the sixth over of the morning when Mark Butcher, who had progressed to 54, drove on the up and was caught by Matthew Hayden in the gully to give Australia's premier fast bowler his 100th Ashes wicket in his 19th Test against England.

Buoyant after their early success, McGrath boosted Australia's morale further with the key wicket of Trescothick just five balls later when he pushed forward tentatively and edged straight to Ricky Ponting at second slip after hitting a six and 12 other boundaries in his 72.

Just as it seemed McGrath would run through the tourists, captain Nasser Hussain teamed up with John Crawley in a determined partnership to frustrate the Australians' desire to dismiss England cheaply.

Hussain was fortunate on more than one occasion, being dropped on 12 off Shane Warne's fourth delivery of the day when he pushed forward too forcefully only for Ponting to miss the chance at silly point.

He had added just six runs more to his total when he was given another reprieve, pushing forward defensively to Warne but the ball bounced up off his front pad onto his glove and was then caught by Darren Lehmann at short leg only for umpire Rudi Koertzen to reject the animated appeals.

The return of Gillespie with the new ball, this time charging in from the Stanley Street End at full pace in contrast to yesterday's tentative spell amid concerns he had suffered a recurrence of his calf problem, halted England's defiance and began their slide.

Having taken the new ball with England on 252 for three aiming to make a breakthrough, Gillespie provided it just six overs later when Hussain, who had hooked him for six earlier in the same over to bring up his half-century, edged a seaming delivery behind to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

Stewart followed in his next over, unluckily being bowled off the bottom edge as he tried to lift his bat over his head to shoulder arms and Craig White fell in similar fashion six overs later to McGrath when he was bowled attempting to leave a full length delivery.

Ashley Giles became Andy Bichel's first victim of the Test, given out caught behind pushing forward although television replays were inconclusive about whether he had got an edge, and also disposed of Andrew Caddick before Warne claimed his first wicket of the innings to remove Matthew Hoggard and earn Australia a comfortable advantage.

Caddick at least showed some spirit by making an early breakthrough to remove opener Justin Langer, going around the wicket and immediately extracting extra bounce from the wearing wicket which induced him into edging behind to wicketkeeper Stewart.

Ponting, a century-maker in the first innings, was removed in similar fashion four overs later when another full-length Caddick delivery reared up sharply and he could do nothing to avoid edging straight to Marcus Trescothick at second slip.

But Hayden and Martyn weathered that early storm and by the close they were as comfortable as they were in the first innings as Australia set their sights on completing a comprehensive Test victory over the next two days.

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