Ashes / News

Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 4th day

Draw beckons after Clarke hundred

Peter English at Adelaide

December 4, 2006

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England 1 for 59 (Strauss 31*, Bell 18*) and 6 for 551dec lead Australia 513 (Ponting 142, Clarke 124) by 97 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out - Australia
How they were out - England



Matthew Hoggard took the second-best figures by an Englishman at Adelaide: 7 for 109 © Getty Images
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Matthew Hoggard produced the finest performance of the game with a sweaty seven-wicket collection as the second Test drifted towards a draw. Michael Clarke's 124 saved Australia from a fifth day of stress while Hoggard's tireless work on a pitch borrowed from the nearby airport runway allowed England to take a 38-run advantage after the first innings of an absorbing arm wrestle. The lead reached 97 at stumps for the loss of Alastair Cook.

Hoggard charged in more regularly than the fleet of passenger planes preparing to land during his 42 overs and was suitably rewarded with 7 for 109. The Test has been played on the type of docile surface hardly ever seen in Australia and he is the only bowler to manage more victims than Stuart Clark's four. It was a courageous display that must not be buried by the avalanche of runs provided by Collingwood, Clarke, Ponting and Pietersen,

England had prised only one wicket from the first two sessions until Hoggard ended Shane Warne's resistance on the final ball before tea, capturing his fifth dismissal. After the break he removed Clarke when the batsman made his first real mistake and then delivered an inswinger into Clark's leg stump. An eighth breakthrough seemed likely as Glenn McGrath loped out but James Anderson ended Australia's innings at 513.

The home side started the day 239 runs behind and easily avoided any follow-on slips as Clarke combined with Adam Gilchrist, whose bright 64 from 79 balls provided an early high tempo. The following two sessions were more attritional and Clarke played a mature innings to earn his first hundred in two years.

Clarke approached his third Test century, which came from 183 balls, in a calm manner and his 118-run partnership with Shane Warne ended the remote chances of a positive result for either team. Andrew Flintoff, who left the field late in the innings for treatment on his left ankle, set blocking fields down the ground for Clarke and the bowlers delivered full deliveries in a bid to chop off his runs and entice a rash shot.

The tactic had worked at Lord's in 2005 but, unlike a couple of his current team-mates, Clarke acted more wisely and sat on Steve Harmison and then James Anderson until he could pierce the restrictive fence. Clarke eventually punched Anderson wide of cover for four to move to 90 and he picked up nine runs from another Anderson over, including a superb driven boundary wide of mid-off, to close on three figures.



Clarke: patience, not power © Getty Images
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After six defensive efforts to Ashley Giles he found a single in front of point from Anderson, kissed his helmet badge and received a caring hug from Warne. The relieved celebration did not last long and he was soon being attended to by the physio for a left-arm problem.

What the innings means for Australia's third Test team is still to be decided, but Clarke has re-sealed a spot at an important time for the next generation. Clarke, who usually rattles the boundaries in long innings, struck only nine fours during his 224-ball stay and was happy to deflect singles and twos off his hip and nudge between a cramped infield.

Resuming on 30, he drove airily through the gully once in the morning and it was his only noticeable mistake until he chipped across the line to Hoggard and was caught at midwicket. He was disappointed to depart shortly after returning from tea but like Hoggard he deserved the generous ovation on leaving the ground.

The acts of Gilchrist and Warne were also appreciated. Warne left with 43 after passing 3000 Test runs on 25 and absorbing the over-the-wicket attack of Giles. Having bowled a similar defensive line to Kevin Pietersen, Warne knew the way to defend the negative approach and spent much of the time padding up.

Gilchrist, who twice edged short and wide of gully, was not really interested in shelving his shots and he holed out to Ian Bell off Giles. He had showed his intent with a fierce sweep that clattered the helmet of Cook at short leg. Cook required immediate attention, but he continued to field and opened the batting in a brief appearance.

Clark popped up to dismiss Cook in his first over with an edge to Gilchrist before Andrew Strauss (31) and Bell (18) also survived a testing mini-spell from Warne. England will begin the final day at 1 for 59 as both teams attempt to score psychological benefits.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo

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