July 6, 2001

Only the weather stops Waugh as Australia build first innings lead

Steve Waugh slammed on the brakes on the second day of the First npower Ashes Test but Australia lost none of the momentum that has kept them on top from the start of this match.

The Australian skipper made a steely century at Edgbaston, a ground that had previously been missing off his list of venues around the world where he has notched up Test hundreds.

It was an innings played with a straight bat and involved few risks, typical of the sort of cricket he has played in recent years, in particular in the three years after he took on the captaincy, since when he has scored nine centuries in 25 Tests.

He also became one of the three most enduring batters in the history of cricket after passing the 9,000 run milestone, a feat that had only previously been achieved by Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border.

Waugh remained unbeaten on 101, the second day's play shortened by a combination of rain and bad light. The hundred came in 164 balls and at tea, when the weather intervened, he had added one more.

But after a 43-minute stoppage following the tea interval, the players returned for just two rapid balls from Darren Gough before being led off again by the umpires because of the light. Half an hour later, the heavens opened and the crowds, who had earlier jeered the Australian batsmen for accepting the light, began to disperse as the match was called off at 5.40pm.

Compared with the first day when 427 runs were scored, the second day proved more pedestrian with Australia adding 199 to their total to take a 38-run lead.

There were fewer wickets too as England started the day on a high with the wicket of Michael Slater with Gough's first ball of the day, which dislodged his middle stump, and were then kept at bay by the Waugh twins who put on a record 133 runs for the fourth wicket.

Both Waughs gave chances and Ian Ward was just inches away from the stumps when he took aim at cover to dismiss Steve for 63 but the Australian skipper dived chest first to safety and apart from a few nervous moments as he approached the hundred - he has been dismissed nine times in the 90s - he was typically self-assured and in control.

He lost his brother when the total was 267, after Mark Waugh edged the ball from Andrew Caddick to keeper Alec Stewart for 49, but for the remainder of the day batted with Damien Martyn, who had been selected in place of out-of-form Justin Langer.

By the close, Martyn had made 34 and was batting superbly, inspired by his doughty skipper. With 30.4 overs lost to the weather, England will have to make up for lost time on the third day to stand any chance of gaining an advantage.