December 13, 2002

England finally gets some luck

SYDNEY, Dec 13 AAP - It was Friday the 13th but Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight rode their luck as England set Australia 252 runs for victory in the limited overs tri-series match at a sold-out SCG tonight.

In the process England did allrounder Shane Watson's World Cup chances a whole lot of damage, ensuring calls are renewed for Australian Test skipper Steve Waugh to come under consideration for the 15-man squad that travels to Africa in February.

England reached 8-251 from 50 overs as Australia dropped four catches, with Knight hitting 111 not out and opening partner Trescothick 60 from 57 balls. Brett Lee was on a hat-trick in the final over when he rattled the stumps of Craig White (15) and Gareth Batty (nought).

Watson was pulled from the attack after a costly opening spell of three overs for 25 runs as Trescothick and Knight skipped away in a run-a-ball opening stand of 101.

Part-timers Darren Lehmann and Damien Martyn (0-26) were preferred by captain Ricky Ponting ahead of Watson for the remainder of England's innings.

Lehmann took 3-1 off six balls to finish his ten-over stint with 3-32, giving further reason to believe Australia could do without Watson - or any specialist allrounder - at the World Cup.

Lehmann, Martyn, Michael Bevan, Ponting and even Matthew Hayden could cobble together the final ten overs in support of Australia's main four bowlers, allowing the luxury of an extra batsman.

Wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist denied Lehmann a fourth wicket when he missed a stumping chance off Knight on 91.

The tourists needed a dramatic change of fortune to be competitive against a highly confident Australian side and they received it first ball when an edge from Trescothick off the bowling of Glenn McGrath flew between Ponting and Martyn at second and third slips.

It went for four.

Trescothick and Knight adopted a plan to attack the Australian fast bowlers, giving themselves room outside off stump, regularly advancing down the crease and slashing wildly at any balls with a bit of width.

The fourth ball of McGrath's first over flew from the top edge of Trescothick's blade over Martyn's head, while any number of other edges evaded diving Australians.

McGrath's new ball partner Jason Gillespie didn't get a hand to a hot caught-and-bowled chance when Trescothick was nine. Lehmann spilled a similar chance off Hussain on 26, then Ponting let Hussain off the hook again on 36.

Trescothick finally fell to Brett Lee, caught at first slip by Shane Warne for 60 off 57 balls. He hit eight fours and a six.

England lost 2-2 in five balls when Ronnie Irani was trapped lbw for a duck by Warne's second ball but Knight and captain Nasser Hussain (52 off 81 balls) regained the momentum.

Another late hiccup of 4-18 in five overs prevented England from amassing an even bigger total.

Knight grinned broadly after an ambitions reverse-sweep off Warne made it all the way to the third-man fence. Warne was far less impressed, scowling. Knight played a similar stroke for three runs a few overs later as he and Hussain guided England to 205.

Warne (1-42 off ten) and Lehmann succeeded in bogging down Hussain, whose reverse smacked of desperation. The Poms hit 31 straight singles from the 25th over to the 36th over but shortly afterwards Hussain broke the shackles with a six off Martyn over mid-wicket.

Shortly after that he was gone, caught in the deep.

Lee finished with 4-47 from eight overs.