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Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day
Australia close in on the urn
December 17, 2006
Cook's brave fight will make no difference to the end result
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Players/Officials: Ian Bell | Alastair Cook
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
Teams: Australia | England
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A wonderful day's Test cricket. A tremendous battle between bat and ball with Australia getting their nose in front in the last few minutes of the day's play. A great partnership between Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, both batsmen battled hard, they faced some terrific bowling, there were a lot of near misses and a lot of good shots. It was just what you'd expect from Test cricket. Good batsmen having to work really hard against good bowling.

Shane Warne got a lot of turn, occasionally one would really bounce. Bowlers like Stuart Clark and Glenn McGrath got the odd one to move back off the seam. Ian Bell and Alastair Cook survived the first session, then they got well into the second and it took a wonderful piece of bowling from Shane Warne to get Bell. He gave the ball some flight, Bell had been prepared to use his feet in fact, he twice lofted Warne over the boundary for two sixes. On this occasion he didn't use his feet. He probably thought the ball was going to be fuller than it was but that was a part of Warne's artistry. Warne got the ball to drop on Bell, he went to drive form the crease and he was caught in the short cover position. That was the breakthrough that Australia was looking for.

Alastair cook at the other end, I must say this about Bell as well, are both good, smart, young players because they learnt. Paul Collingwood, I don't think his batting is suited to the WACA - he came and went. It really should be Kevin Pietersen at No. 4. England had gained some momentum from that big partnership, but they lost it as soon as Collingwood came there. You could see the Australians got all over Collingwood and suddenly they were on top.

Then Pietersen came in to join Cook. Once again this wonderful battle of Test cricket continued. Pietersen is always looking to be aggressive, he immediately started to dictate terms to the Australians. Eighteen months ago you'd have seen the odd blood rush from him, he's a much more mature player, he plays according to the situation, he's prepared to work hard for the runs if the bowlers force him to and a terrific partnership build up. Cook after some nervous moments into 90s got there. The Australians made him work so hard going from 70 to 100, he got to the 100 took a deep breath and he continued on. But then Glen McGrath bowled him a beauty, got the edge and poor old Cook walked off, got into the dressing room, he was inconsolable. The England players were trying to pat him on the back and say "well done!" he was having none of it. He played a magnificent innings and I'm sure that'll do a lot for his Test match career.

Then England decided to send in the night watchman. Matthew Hoggard had no chance against McGrath who bowled him a magnificent yorker and it ripped the off stump right out of the ground. That meant that Andrew Flintoff had to come out, he faced a few anxious moments, but he survived. England have got to stumps with five wickets down. If it were three down with Pietersen and Cook still in occupation you'd have said there was an outside chance that England might have saved it. Now you'd have to say that Australia are going to get their hands on the urn by the end of the fifth day in Perth. But England have made them fight all the way.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist

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