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September 9, 2005
With Australia needing a win to retain the Ashes there were some surprised people at The Oval when Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden trooped off straight after tea despite being 112 for 0. England were only to happy to retreat back to the dressing while, for once, the majority of the crowd will probably not have been to disappointed by the lack of action.
But Langer defended the decision after the close, telling reporters: "We spoke about it briefly at tea-time. I asked Ricky [Ponting] and Gilly [Adam Gilchrist] what their thoughts were and they felt it was the same as any other Test match.
"When we walked out to bat it was very dark. Andrew Flintoff was reverse-swinging the ball just before tea and we felt it was best to play him in the best conditions possible. Unfortunately it hung around for the whole session. But at this stage we've only lost half-an-hour, an hour. The way this series has gone most Tests have been decided in four days.
"Take it from me, we were none for a hundred, we'd have loved to keep batting." added Langer, "But, at the end of the day, the reality is when you weigh up the options every time it comes up the question is if you do lose a wicket early, the new batsman has to come in against a reverse swinging ball. It was very dark after tea. We've seen Flintoff bowl well in dark conditions against the new batsman."
For England the best part of the day came during the morning session when the tail wagged impressively after the early loss of Geriant Jones. Ashley Giles provided most of the frustration for Australia with one his typically gritty innings. He admitted he'd been taken aback by Australia's move to come off for the light. "We were ready to start and we were a little bit surprised and shocked. Of course I hope they live to regret it but there's three days left in this Test match, there's a lot of time. We can't, and Ricky Ponting can't, afford to cloud watch."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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