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January 3, 2007
It was, however, yet another day of Australian dominance in this series, and it was always destined to be as such after a catastrophic morning session for England. After resuming on 4 for 234 overnight, England lost their last six wickets for 57 in 23.2 overs, with only Andrew Flintoff providing any resistance. He was the ninth man out for 89, his highest score of the series.
Flintoff had been desperately out of sorts as a batsman on this tour, making just 158 runs in the first four Tests at 22.57. But having found his feet in an unbeaten 42 overnight, he was back to his most solid and reliable in this innings, stroking his boundaries rather than chasing them in the manner that he had done earlier in the tour. But Kevin Pietersen would doubtless sympathise with the lack of support he received - England's last five batsmen mustered four runs between them.
Not even Justin Langer's second and third drops of the match at third slip could prevent Australia seizing control. Langer reprieved Paul Collingwood in the very first over, bowled by Brett Lee, but Collingwood had added just two to his overnight 25 when Glenn McGrath, armed with the new ball, got one to climb at his outside edge, for Adam Gilchrist to complete a simple catch.
Chris Read came and went in an unconvincing hurry. Lee this time found that trampoline bounce outside off stump for Read to fence loosely to Gilchrist again, and with his very next ball, Lee found himself on a hat-trick, as Sajid Mahmood was squared up by a hip-tickler that looped off a leading edge to Hayden in the gully.
Harmison hung around for 24 deliveries - long enough for Flintoff to clobber consecutive boundaries off Lee to move into the 70s - but he became Clark's second victim of the morning (and third of the innings) when he missed an attempted yorker that was zeroing in on leg stump. And once Flintoff had gone, caught behind flailing in vain at Clark, Monty Panesar became the 1000th international wicket for an otherwise out-of-sorts Shane Warne.
Hayden had hardly played a shot in anger when he was joined by Ricky Ponting, but he came out of his shell as the shine went off the new ball, and helped to add 66 for the second wicket, before wafting inexplicably at a wide one from Steve Harmison, and offering catching practice to Paul Collingwood at second slip. It was a timely wicket for England who were in need of a lift after their morning meltdown, but once Ponting had got into his stride, it seemed nothing could slow the Aussies down.
Nothing, that is, except for a run-out. On 45, Ponting pushed Panesar into the leg-side and set off for a suicidal single. Anderson, fielding at mid-on, picked up the ball and threw down the stumps in an instant - Ponting's second run-out in the 40s against England, to go alongside his infamous Pratt-fall at Trent Bridge last summer. This aberration didn't look like being quite as costly, however, not even when Harmison, in the midst of an attacking spell, found some extra lift outside Michael Clarke's off stump to give Chris Read a simple catch behind the stumps.
The players immediately left the field for a lengthy rain delay, but upon the resumption, Hussey and Symonds batted resolutely to the close, to ensure that Australia remained on course for their coveted whitewash.
Shot of the day
Most of the fielders were back for Andrew Flintoff when he forced Brett Lee off the back foot to one of the few gaps at deep cover. A straight-driven boundary next ball was also impressive.
Wicket of the day
Shane Warne's lbw of Monty Panesar was not a spectacular dismissal, but it earned Warne his 1000th international wicket.
Gaffe of the day
Richard Branson might understand a lot about airlines, but what he knows about the Ashes couldn't be written on a sick bag. While unveiling his plan for keeping the urn in Australia he made more mistakes than a steward on a low-cost carrier.
Quote of the day
"Why the **** should we keep them. It's the Ashes. We're not playing for a box of chocolates." Ian Botham
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