Australia back to winning ways
Australia 266 for 5 (Symonds 73, Martyn 68*) defeated England 209 for 9 (Flintoff 44, Gough 46*) by 57 runs
Scorecard & ball-by-ball details
Australia showed they were far from spooked by recent events as they posted their first win of the NatWest Series in three attempts in defeating England by 57 runs. Their losing streak had to end some time, of course - you can't keep a good team down - and they were indebted to their returning heroes Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee who showed Australia just what they had been missing. Symonds teed up the innings with 73 from their total of 266 for 4, before Lee - with Glenn McGrath - ripped apart England's top order to leave them reeling at 6 for 3.
A confident England had fancied their chances of chasing down the total on a decent Chester-le-Street track, but there was no way back after such early devastation and they slumped to 209 for 9, Lee ending with 2 for 27 from his ten overs. Andrew Flintoff posted a plucky 44 but, for once, there were no Kevin Pietersen heroics: he holed out for 19 - Symonds in on the action again - and the writing was on the wall. Darren Gough took England close to a bonus point - with 46 not out - but by the time he arrived at the crease the win was out of the question.
Symonds, back in the side following a two-match suspension for staying out late, made instant amends after England's stand-in captain Marcus Trescothick chose - bafflingly - to field, leaving England to chase under the lights. Symonds had clearly decided that he would keep his partying for the middle today, although he hardly larged it; thumping just 28 of his 73 runs in boundaries. His innings was measured and, at times, it looked as if it would prove just a little too sedate. In all, he cracked four fours and two sixes - the only sixes of Australia's innings. Damien Martyn provided good support, with an unbeaten 68, and together they put on 144 for the fourth wicket. But Martyn was similarly muted, although equally composed - his 68 contained just three fours.
Symonds survived two near-misses, when Geraint Jones shied wide of the stumps and when Steve Harmison had an lbw shout turned down. He was finally undone by a direct hit from Trescothick at extra cover, and Australia's momentum fell away, with Gough keeping it tight late on. Gough, utilising the yorker to perfection, was the pick of England's bowlers, although he went wicketless in his 10 overs.
Adam Gilchrist added 44 with Matthew Hayden for the first wicket, before chasing a Chris Tremlett delivery outside his off stump, where Jones took a catch which melded luck with lightning reactions. A diving Jones parried it upwards, before twirling round to cling on at the second attempt.
Ricky Ponting (27) made a decent start for the first time this series before Ashley Giles tumbled forward at third man to cling on where Pietersen and Paul Collingwood had failed earlier in the same Flintoff over (95 for 2). Hayden played with composure for his 39, finding the middle of the bat before Jones took another fumbling but ultimately successful catch (96 for 3). Symonds and Martyn took charge from there, before the onslaught from their bowlers.
The opening attack of Lee and McGrath thoroughly deserved their wickets, as they put England under pressure from the off with some nagging, hostile fare. Lee, returning from a shoulder injury, struck first, Andrew Strauss chopping on for 3. McGrath steamed in at the other end and his awayswinger outside off stump found Trescothick's edge for a duck. Just two balls later, McGrath added Tuesday's centurion Collingwood - again chopping on - as England made a calamitous start to their reply from which they couldn't recover.
Andrew Flintoff set about rescuing England's innings from total disarray, and with Vikram Solanki added 79 for the fourth wicket. Solanki looked to be taking his role as anchor a little bit too seriously: England hardly moved forward when he was facing. He finally fell for 34 off 69 balls - holing out to Ricky Ponting, which brought together the partnership that all England fans had been clamouring for. It was worth just 9 - squibs don't come much damper.
Flintoff had done his best to get out a few balls before he was eventually caught at long-on, the second time in successive matches that he has been out straight-driving (94 for 5). Australia knew that they had made an important breakthrough, but with Pietersen at the crease anything was still possible.
Pietersen thrives on a challenge - and they come no bigger than Australia. However, on this occasion he couldn't get his eye in and he fell attempting to hook a Symonds short ball over midwicket. He found Mike Hussey instead (132 for 6). The game was all but over and Symonds pocketed Giles just one run later, with Giles trying to steer through gully (133 for 7). Then Shane Watson, brought back in the attack, profited from a profligate shot by Jones (23). Tremlett fell quickly, but Gough was intent on grabbing a bonus point for England with a quickfire 46 from 47 balls, England's top scorer on the night. It was flighty fun, but ultimately not enough - England fell just short of the 213 they needed for the bonus. Australia, bragging rights restored, are back in business.
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo