July 7, 2001

Gilchrist's assault leaves England battling to survive in First Ashes Test

The first two sessions were a re-enactment of yesterday. The last was as extraordinary and sensational as the first day of this npower Ashes series with Adam Gilchrist playing the starring role and England's Mark Butcher taking an unlikely leading part.

Gilchrist made a Test best 152, gaining momentum as his total built. He set a new record for the number of runs scored by one player in an Ashes Test over, making 22 runs off Butcher, who saw the first, third and final ball go for six, the fourth for four and the second reflect off his hands in a difficult caught and bowled chance.

Until then Butcher was England's hero. He bowled the first maiden of the day just before tea, then with his unspectacular medium pace, made a remarkable breakthrough by having Damien Martyn caught at gully by Marcus Trescothick, just two balls after the Western Australian had made his maiden Test century.

Like yesterday, England had waited more than 40 overs for their second wicket, after Steve Waugh was lbw to Darren Gough's seventh ball of the morning. In that time, Gilchrist and Martyn put on 160 for the sixth wicket, having both been dropped on 14 and 64 respectively, in the space of five balls shortly after lunch.

Butcher struck again two overs later having Shane Warne caught at first slip for eight off the last ball of an over and then he snapped up another two wickets in one over when Brett Lee was also caught by Mike Atherton at first slip, to leave Butcher on a hat-trick, and Jason Gillespie was leg before for a duck three balls later.

By then, Butcher had taken four wickets in 14 balls for just five runs. But the prized wicket of Gilchrist proved elusive and on reaching his century, his first against England, the Australian vice-captain launched a brutal assault on the bowling.

He had completed his century in 118 balls. The next half-century came in just 25 as Gilchrist, who made two ducks and two ones in his last two Tests in India, hit four sixes and six fours in a superb swashbuckling exhibition of big-hit batting at its best.

He and Glenn McGrath added 63 for the final wicket though McGrath contributed just a single and with the score on 576, Gilchrist was finally caught in the deep off Gough going for yet another boundary. Not since the Fourth Test at Headingley in 1993 had a side recorded three individual centuries against England in one innings.

Australia's lead had grown to 282 and when England batted again, having spent two days in the field, it was almost inevitable that the drama would continue Atherton and Marcus Trescothick survived two overs and two balls in the murky light before they accepted the umpire's offer of a recess but on their return, Atherton perished with the very first delivery, edging the ball to Mark Waugh at second slip for four.

Predictably it was McGrath, who for the 14th time in the history of their riveting confrontations, sent him on his way after he had made a disappointing four runs.

But Butcher and Trescothick played out the remainder of the day safely taking England's second innings total to 48 for one when bad light caused another interruption. This time it was terminal and England shut up shop trailing Australia by 234 runs with Trescothick not out 21 and Butcher unbeaten on 15.