January 2, 2003

Australia lets England off hook

AAP

SYDNEY, Jan 2 AAP - Australia dropped two catches to let England off the hook on the opening morning of the fifth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England, having won the toss, was 2-79 at lunch with Mark Butcher on 42 and captain Nasser Hussain on 14.

Australia would have secured a more dominant position if Damien Martyn and Stuart MacGill had not spilled chances.

On 13, Butcher drove at Andy Bichel and Martyn failed to take a difficult opportunity at gully, diving low to his left.

MacGill should have taken a relatively simple caught and bowled chance from Hussain when he was six and the score was 2-63.

Fast bowler Brett Lee made the initial breakthrough this morning, having Michael Vaughan caught behind for a duck.

Lee bowled superbly in an opening spell of 1-12 from five overs, getting genuine outswing at speed.

Andy Bichel sent Marcus Trescothick on his way for 19 when the England opener attempted to cover-drive a wide delivery.

He found a thick edge, which wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist took with a flying catch high to his left in front of first slip.

Lee finished the session with 1-17 from eight overs, Bichel had 1-21 from six, MacGill 0-26 from eight and Jason Gillespie 0-14 from six.