July 19, 2001

Australia take the honours on a stop-start day

England spent a frustrating day battling with disruptions and distractions to give Australia the upper hand at the end of the first day of the Second npower Test Match at Lord's.

Bad light, rain and long-standing appointments with HM The Queen all played their part in challenging the batsmen's ability to hold their concentration and the bowlers skill in maintaining their rhythm but by the close, England were 121 for four, three of the wickets falling after 5pm.

Graham Thorpe showed what England had lacked in the middle order in the last Test at Edgbaston by making an unbeaten 16 including seven scampered threes, ruling out any doubts over the fitness troubles that have kept him out of cricket for two months.

The Surrey left-hander was batting with his county colleague Alec Stewart when bad light forced the players off for the last time at 6.50pm having seen another county colleague Mark Ramprakash depart five balls earlier for 14.

After a comfortable start Ramprakash, who was recalled as cover for the injured Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, was bowled by a superb Brett Lee inswinger which had him completely bamboozled. On his old home track, Ramprakash played confidently, helping a scratchy looking Thorpe, who had not played Test cricket since the Second Test against Pakistan, find his feet.

But his loss meant Australia took the honours on a day that fell 50 overs short of a normal playing day. Had England finished day one with only Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher and Mike Atherton back in the pavilion, those honours would probably have gone to England who had played the fiery Australian bowlers with confidence.

Trescothick was the first to go in the 12th over with the score on 33 when he was caught behind off Jason Gillespie in the only dismissal of the day which was down to poor batting rather than good bowling.

An edge from Butcher gave Mark Waugh his 157th Test catch which put him at the top of the table, equal with his former Australian colleague and captain Mark Taylor. It was not one of his most spectacular catches but it was a milestone, which pegged England back on 75 for two.

After being at the crease for more than two and a half hours, Atherton was leg before to Glenn McGrath offering no shot having made a typically gritty 37 though he looked at the start to be setting out his stall in the first over of the morning by pulling McGrath cheekily to the square leg boundary.

There were five boundaries in his innings and England would have been in a stronger position in the morning had he been able to overcome the bad light and rain disruptions. It was the 15th time McGrath had seen off Atherton and his wicket gave him figures of 2-29 for the day. Gillespie, quick but occasional wayward, finished with 1-43