August 31, 2000

England make sound start to fifth Test

Cornhill Insurance

England made a very sound start to the crucial Fifth Test at The Oval after being put in to bat, with Mike Atherton and Marcus Trescothick putting on a solid and invaluable 66 without being parted by the lunch interval.

Ambrose and Walsh produced their customary immaculate, threatening opening spell in a tense atmosphere, with the board remaining on zero until the last ball of the fifth over, when Atherton pushed Ambrose wide of mid-on for a single. The policy was obviously to see off the veteran pair and make hay at the expense of the lesser bowlers.

The England batsmen naturally struggled at times, but held firm, and as usual the pressure relaxed as McLean replaced Walsh. Ironically the first chance came off McLean, as Trescothick slashed outside off stump and Campbell at second slip failed to hold a hard catch high above his head on its way to the boundary. But they survived the crucial first hour, laying a firm foundation so vital to England's prosperity.

As the ball aged, even Walsh took some punishment at times in his second spell, and at lunch the pair was still there with 30 runs apiece. England have the solid foundation they need to build a match-winning total.