August 3, 2001

McGrath impressed as fiery England bowlers re-ignite Ashes

Carl Laferton

Australian bowler Glenn McGrath, scourge of the English batsmen so far this series, praised his English counterparts after they reduced the tourists to 105-7 at the close on the first day of the Third Test to re-ignite an Ashes contest that had looked dead earlier in the day.

Having taken five for 49 himself to bowl England out for only 185 on what is normally a good batting track, McGrath admitted to the BBC that England's fiery comeback in the field was: "a little bit of a shock. We always knew England would fight back at some stage. We never really underestimated them. Today was the day."

Earlier, any spark of English hope of reclaiming the Ashes seemed to have been firmly stamped out by McGrath and company as the home side once more failed to build a decent first innings total. The 31-year-old paceman attributed the fall of 17 wickets in a day to a combination of the pitch and overhead conditions: "Even I was swinging the ball conventionally. To take five wickets in a Test match, I'll take that any day."

Andy Caddick, who led the England recovery with three wickets in three overs, including that of the captain Steve Waugh, told Channel 4: "I got Steve (Waugh) the way I got him three years ago. I do feel it's a slight weakness and he knows it's a slight weakness of his and I'll continue to plug at that weakness. I'm just happy I got him out that way because he is a key player.

"It just shows that these Australians are good players but if you get stuck into them and get on top they do what other humans would do and that is panic, and I'm sure in their dressing room they panicked a little bit." McGrath agreed that, "it is okay to say they have the upperhand."

Caddick predicted that England would bowl Australia out early on the second day, before compiling around 550 in their second innings, to which McGrath retorted that he should come to the ground once he had woken up. At 2-0 up in the series, it has not been difficult for the tourists to retain their sense of humour, but England can continue to breathe life into the Ashes as they did yesterday evening, the joke may yet be on the mighty Australians.