Third Test Match

A draw from the start

A perfect batting pitch exposed the limitations of both sets of bowlers. Although late on the fourth evening there was an outside chance of a result when Australia lost two wickets for 8 runs at the start of their second innings, after leading by 59 on the first, in the conditions, and through the selection of the teams, a draw had looked the likely outcome from the time the captains tossed. In the event, only twenty wickets fell for 1,209 runs; four men made hundreds. Border and Broad their second in successive Tests, and there were nine scores between 41 and 93.

Sleep the South Australian leg-spinner, and Hughes, who had been dropped after the First Test, replaced Lawson and C. D. Matthews from the team that drew in Perth; and when Zoehrer damaged a shoulder in practice, Dyer, his understudy on the tour of India, took his place. He had a tidy first Test match behind the stumps, although he experienced occasional difficulties taking Sleep and missed a stumping chance, given by Emburey, which might have earned Australia a three-figure lead. In England's second innings he suffered a broken nose when a ball from Sleep deflected off Broad's pads. Overall, however, he looked at least the equal of Australia's first choice.

The omission of Bright from the final XI was unsurprising in view of the slow left-armer's treatment by England in the state game earlier in the week. But it was a pawky move with Australia one down in the series; and in hindsight it was regretted by Border when, after winning a good toss, he was able to declare at 514 for five. Botham's rib muscle, which was proving slow to heal, obliged England to make their first change of the series, Whitaker winning his first cap on the ground where he had earlier scored 108. This left England a seam bowler short, a setback when Australia were in trouble early in their second innings, but as holders of the Ashes the tourists could be excused for consolidating their batting.

Whitaker, as it happened, spent an uncomfortable 51 minutes scoring 11 in his only innings. He went some way towards making up for his failure with the bat through the zeal with which he fielded during the eleven hours of Australia's first innings. With Gower, whose cutting-off was brilliant, and DeFreitas, whose speed over the ground and fine throwing arm saved many runs in the elongated outfield, Whitaker shared the distinction of being a member of the first trio of Leicestershire players to play in the same England team, though they had come from far and wide to do so.

Given the circumstances, a big Australian score was always on the cards, the more so when Dilley and DeFreitas, who was no-balled for over-stepping ten times in his first ten overs, made poor use of a new ball dampened by two showers. Marsh and Boon laid the foundations with Australia's first three-figure opening in a home Test against England since 1974-75 (I. R. Redpath and R. B. McCosker), but Edmonds and Emburey exercised their usual tight control and there was no worthwhile acceleration until just before the declaration when Matthews and Waugh added 49 in four overs. Jones did his best, repeatedly going down the pitch at Edmonds, only to be thwarted by the left-armer's subtleties of flight and the fielding of mid-off and mid-on set deep. Yet for all his aggression and swift running between the wickets, Jones batted 283 minutes for his 93 before being well caught, low on the leg-side, by Richards off a mis-hit hook. Boon, finding his confidence early on with a square cut and some good stroke off his legs, needed five hours for his first hundred against England, a strong, compact innings which contained fourteen fours and no chance. Border's range of strokes, and expert placing, enabled him to score 70 in 151 minutes before becoming the only batsman to fall to a defensive stroke, a looping leg-side bat-pad to Richards; but it was not until Waugh's improvisation and crisp driving wrung a response from Matthews that Australia scored with freedom.

England were never in danger of being asked to follow on. On the contrary, after Broad and Athey had put on 112 for the first wicket, and Broad and Gatting had added 161 for the second, they had prospects of taking a sizeable lead until Lamb and Gower were out within an over of each other in the last ten minutes of the third day. Without matching the majesty of his 162 in Perth, Broad played with smooth assurance, hitting a six and twelve fours in 308 minutes, while Gatting (180 minutes, fifteen fours) vigorously attacked the spin bowlers. Emburey, the night-watchman, held the innings together until after lunch on the fourth day, troubled only by Sleep, who turned and pitched his leg-breaks throughout.

Australia, left 2 hours 40 minutes batting before the close, were forced to consolidate when Boon and Jones fell to lively use of the new ball, but showers on the final morning made the last day academic. Border made a token declaration at tea after completing in 303 minutes his 21st Test hundred and his seventh against England; he survived a stumping chance off Emburey at 85 and hit eleven fours. It was a disappointing match, played in mostly cool and cloudy weather, and crowds of 7,158 on the fourth day and 3,653 on the last reflected waning interest.

Man of the Match: A. R. Border. Attendance: 46,720.

Close of play: First day, Australia 207-2 (D. M. Jones 27*, A. R. Border 19*); Second day, England 29-0 (B. C. Broad 18*, C. W. J. Athey 10*); Third day, England 349-5 (J. E. Emburey 5*, J. J. Whitaker 3*); Fourth day, Australia 82-3 (A. R. Border 31*, G. M. Ritchie 4*).

© John Wisden & Co