|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
October 16, 2005
Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison have said that it has taken them time to work up to their usual top speeds in the Super Series, but both were pleased with the way their bowling had gone on the third day. The six wickets they shared has given the World XI an outside chance of salvaging the Test, although an out-of-form batting line-up faces a tough task on a wearing pitch.
"At one time it looked as though they might score a few more but Steve, myself and Murali managed to take a few wickets," Flintoff said during the press conference. "It is possible to chase 350, not easy by any means, but it will probably take a special performance by someone."
England's two leading fast bowlers face a tour of Pakistan, which starts in two weeks, and both will miss the early days of the trip after appearing in Australia. It was clear that Harmison is using the Super Test as a stepping stone to enhance his preparation ahead of the tour.
"I would never call this a warm-up game because it is a very big event but I feel I have been able to blow away the cobwebs after not bowling for a month, " said Harmison. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to bowl at 90mph like I normally can do, but I feel that my line and length has been very good."
Flintoff had the benefit, dubious as it may be given the drubbings inflicted by Australia, of playing the three one-day internationals in Melbourne and says he has been getting better with each match. "Bowling isn't something that you can just click your fingers and it all comes back. Today I felt I was running in a lot better than I did during the first one-day international."
The quicks were supported by a superb spell from Muralitharan, and Harmison said that his presence was key in bringing about Australia's collapse. "It just shows when you have a guy like that one wicket can change the game. It gives the chance for Fred to have a five-over burst, then me to have a five-over burst, and it changes the game completely."
The light was a problem throughout and the World XI lost two late wickets before play ended for the day. One of these, Virender Sehwag, fell to Stuart MacGill who was brought on to keep the players on the field. But Harmison believes that if the quicks can't bowl then neither should the spinners.
"The thing I disagree on is with the spinners, if it is bad light for one and the seamers can't bowl than the spinners shouldn't be able to either. They may bowl a bit quicker but Shane Warne has got four or five different variations of ball and picking him when it is dark is just as difficult as facing Brett [Lee] at 90mph."
Glenn McGrath was a relaxed man at the end of the day, cracking a joke before nearly every answer he gave: "You must be struggling today if you need to talk to me." But he is serious about Australia wrapping up this match tomorrow. "We are on top if you look at the wicket. It is hard with the new ball, it nips around a bit, and then the spinners come into their own.
"Hopefully myself and Brett can pick up a wicket or two each in the morning. Then if all goes well hopefully that is the last bowl we will have this Test match. I think the Test will be over one way or the other tomorrow. If they get the runs it is going to a fair effort."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A look at some of cricket's most memorable strokes - and their makers