December 27, 2002

Another controversial replay as Australia dominates

MELBOURNE, Dec 27 AAP - A packed MCG erupted into a chorus of boos after grim-faced England captain Nasser Hussain refused to walk when Australia claimed a catch late on day two of the Boxing Day Test.

In reply to Australia's 6(dec)-551, England was 3-97 at stumps, staring at defeat with Hussain on 17 and tentative nightwatchman Richard Dawson yet to score.

Australia's mammoth total was founded on 250 from Justin Langer, 102 from Matthew Hayden, 77 from captain Steve Waugh and an unbeaten 62 from polished debutant Martin Love.

Hussain, who 24 hours earlier appealed for the dismissal of Australia skipper Steve Waugh despite doubts from the fieldsman Mark Butcher, clipped a full toss from leg spinner Stuart MacGill to Jason Gillespie at mid-on.

It was 2-94.

Gillespie dived to his left and juggled the ball which popped up, hit his chest and fell back into his hands. Gillespie jumped to his feet and threw the ball high, claiming the catch.

He had unanimous support from team-mates.

Hussain stayed put, however, unsure whether the ball had kissed the grass after Gillespie's initial juggle. Zimbabwean umpire Russell Tiffin sent the matter to video umpire Darrell Hair who, after numerous replays, gave Hussain the benefit of the doubt.

Hussain was booed and jeered by a huge proportion of the boisterous crowd of 50,451.

Gillespie entered the attack immediately and, in his second over, he trapped Butcher lbw for 25. Gillespie was lucky on this occasion, with the ball appearing to come off Butcher's inside edge.

Meanwhile, Brett Lee equalled his record for the fastest delivery recorded in Australia when he sent down a 156.2km/h scorcher during a lively burst.

Lee, whose 156.2km/h delivery in a limited overs game against Sri Lanka in Perth last weekend set a new Australian benchmark, reached the same speed in his second over today.

Even hovering around the high 140 mark, Lee had Butcher hopping around like a cat on a hot tin roof, provoking a genuine buzz among the masses.

When he started consistently hitting 150km/h, Lee made a deserved breakthrough when a cracking ball brushed Marcus Trescothick's gloves and flew to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, sending the England opener on his way for 37.

With his tail up, Lee thought he had Hussain out twice from catches behind. Both balls were a tick under 154km/h, both times Lee celebrated like Hussain was gone, but both times Tiffin turned him down.

Hussain, who revels in facing Lee even if he's not entirely comfortable, took up the challenge and drove and pulled the 26-year-old for two boundaries.

MacGill, described by Waugh as the second best spinner in the world behind the injured Shane Warne, was introduced to the attack at 1-27. Trescothick belted him ten rows back into the Great Southern Stand.

MacGill's first four overs cost 28 runs, but he recovered to finish with 0-36 from 11 overs. McGrath took 1-18 from seven, Gillespie 1-8 from eight and Lee 1-31 from eight.