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July 24, 2005
Australia surged to a crushing 239-run win in the opening Ashes Test, with more than a day to spare, despite being frustrated by heavy rain. After sitting around for over four hours, they needed only 10.1 overs to complete a clinical demolition of England's second innings. Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne finished with four wickets each, while only Kevin Pietersen showed any defiance, reaching his second half-century on debut.
The forecast for Monday is not too impressive and Australia were in no mood to take any chances with the English weather. When play began at 3.45pmBST McGrath found his probing line and length from the first ball. In his second over of the day the merciless removal of the remaining five wickets began.
Geraint Jones played a limp pull to mid-on, from a ball that was not short enough for the shot. It is not the first time Jones has fallen to the pull and, given the threat of further rain which was possible with every passing dark cloud, it was a brainless piece of cricket. McGrath scented a quick end to the contest - and like a prize boxer went straight for the knockout blow. Ashley Giles lasted two balls, jabbing at a ball outside off stump sending a catch to Matthew Hayden in the gully, as Pietersen could only stand and stare at the non-striker's end.
A brief shower brought cheers from the England sections of the crowd and the way Matthew Hoggard loitered in the pavilion on the restart indicated England's mood. Hoggard, though, was able to swiftly return to the dressing-room when he was perfectly set up by McGrath. After a series of short balls McGrath jagged one down the slope - he can probably patent that delivery now - striking Hoggard plumb in front. Hoggard was already past the bowler before Rudi Koertzen had slowly raised the finger.
Steve Harmison held up Australia's charge for precisely one ball as he was also plumb, this time to Warne's slider. Pietersen now realised that more than the odd shower would be needed to save England and took a final opportunity to open his shoulders. He reached his second half-century from 68 balls before launching Warne into the stands.
Warne came within a whisker of his fifth wicket as a ball brushed past Simon Jones's off stump. But, he will now end his Test career without a place on the Lord's honours boards - a rare accolade that has eluded him - although he played his part in the final wicket, holding Jones's wild slash off McGrath. England's tail, which has improved out of sight and been a key factor in their run of success, contributed a nice round figure - nought - and the dismissal 'caught Warne, bowled McGrath' was a apt way for this match to finish.
McGrath continued his stunning record at Lord's - three Man of the Match awards now in three Tests - and, never mind rolling up the pitch, he would probably like to take the entire ground around with him. Warne may not fizz the ball as he did during his younger days but age has certainly not wearied him. For England, Pietersen was a shining light - although he could do with working on his catching - while, in patches, the bowling of Harmison and Andrew Flintoff was fearsome.
Michael Vaughan's England have confronted, and passed, some massive challenges in the last two years, but now they know - if they ever doubted - that they face something in a completely different league.
Andrew Strauss c & b Lee 37 (80 for 1)
Toe-ended short ball upwards for sprinting return catch
Marcus Trescothick c Hayden b Warne 44 (96 for 2)
Feathered straight one to first slip
Ian Bell lbw Warne 8 (104 for 3)
Left a straight ball, trapped plumb
Michael Vaughan b Lee 4 (112 for 4)
Played down the wrong line, castled
Andrew Flintoff c Gilchrist b Warne 3 (119 for 5)
Slashed at one outside off stump, feathered edge through
Geraint Jones c Gillespie b McGrath 6 (158 for 6)
Limp pull to mid on
Ashley Giles c Hayden b McGrath 0 (158 for 7)
Fended outside off stump to gully
Matthew Hoggard lbw b McGrath 0 (164 for 8)
Beaten by a ball which jagged back
Steve Harmison lbw b Warne 0 (167 of 9)
Hit in front by a slider
Simon Jones c Warne b McGrath 0 (180 all out>
Wild drive, edge to first slip
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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