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England's lamentable record against Australia at Lord's - their last win was in 1934 - continued as the tourists romped to an innings victory. Of more immediate concern, this was England's seventh consecutive Test defeat, prompting a national outcry on a scale more familiar in football. For Australia the match offered reassuring confirmation of the stamina and resourcefulness of a bowling attack deprived of McDermott. He was rushed to hospital on the second day for an operation on a twisted bowel, which was to rule him out of the rest of the series.
Even before the game began there were signs of desperation in the England camp. After the defeat at Old Trafford Gooch, who had originally been appointed to lead the side for the first three Tests, was, perversely, entrusted with the captaincy for the rest of the series. Yet a throwaway remark by Gooch that he would stand down if performances did not improve only added to the disarray in the dressing-room. By the end of the third day, when another defeat was well-nigh inevitable, speculation about his position was rife. In the end he stayed on.
The England selectors resisted wholesale changes after the First Test, merely replacing Defreitas with 31-year-old Foster, who thus played in his first Test for four years. He became the fourth South African rebel to be rehabilitated, after Gatting, Emburey and Jarvis, and his selection was designed to bring more aggression to the English attack. But on a docile pitch at Foster's least favourite Test ground his recall was not a success. Indeed, he played only one more county game before retiring. Australia replaced Julian with the off-spinner May, a more fruitful decision.
Border won the toss and settled back for a day and a half to watch his batsmen expertly dissect the English attack. But for an aberration by Mark Waugh against Tufnell on 99, the first four Australian batsmen would have completed centuries. Taylor was anonymously effective, Boon was remorseless in the pursuit and achievement of his elusive first Test hundred on English soil, but Slater, in his second Test, was captivating. After an uncertain start against Caddick, his innings of 152, punctuated by a series of immaculate straight drives and 18 fours, dominated the first day. His impromptu jig of delight when he reached his hundred was followed by a beaming smile and a kiss bestowed on the Australian badge on his helmet. This exuberant display of joy enchanted a capacity crowd as much as his fleet-footed strokeplay. It was nearly five hours before he became England's first wicket; by then Australia had 260.
Mark Waugh and then Border sustained the demolition of England's attack with such certainty that, when a ball eventually beat the bat, there was a spontaneous, if somewhat desperate, round of applause from the stands. By 11.45 on the third morning Border was able to declare at 632 for four. For England, Such, though wicketless, had been the most impressive bowler.
On such a bland surface a draw should have been within England's capabilities, but May and Warne conjured more turn than the English spinners and Hughes, refusing to be daunted by the sluggishness of the pitch or the absence of McDermott - Mark Waugh shared the new ball - was not to be denied. Gooch and Gatting were dismissed in unfamiliar and humiliating ways; Gooch was caught at long leg, hooking, while Gatting, supposedly the master of spin, was bowled through the gate by a perfectly flighted off-break. But the most notable dismissal was that of Smith, who became the first victim in an English Test of trial by television. Smith came down the wicket to May, the ball turned down the leg side and Healy whipped off the bails. Umpire Kitchen signalled to the third umpire, Chris Balderstone, at the top of the pavilion and, after 69 seconds, three TV replays and a brief walkie-talkie conversation, raised his finger.
Only Atherton, who batted 253 minutes for 80, had a clear idea of how to blunt the Australian attack as England were bundled out for 205. Atherton was also the cornerstone of England's second innings, remaining for another 242 minutes until a moment of masochistic madness. After Gooch had succumbed to a perfect Warne leg-break, Atherton and a subdued Gatting had added 104 to offer England hope of scrambling a draw. Atherton had reached 97, batting more fluently than in the first innings, when he clipped a ball to mid wicket off Border. Both batsmen were swayed by the impending landmark as they debated a third run. Atherton set off, stalled and then slipped as Hughes hurled the ball from the boundary; he was agonisingly stranded as Healy removed the bails. If he had been on seven or 87 a third run would not have been contemplated.
Despite resistance from Hick and Stewart on the fifth day England were unable to recover from this self-inflicted wound. The Australian spinners, who shared 15 wickets in the match, patiently removed the middle order. Warne then took the last two wickets in consecutive balls by bowling Such and Tufnell around their legs, a suitably humiliating end for England. For the Australians there was enough time to spruce themselves up before meeting the Queen who, optimistically, had maintained the tradition of visiting Lord's at tea-time on the Monday, even though, with Sunday play, it was now the final day.
Man of the Match: M. J. Slater. Attendance: 110,802; receipts £2,092,400.
Close of Play: First day, Australia 292-2 (D. C. Boon 11*, M. E. Waugh 6*); Second day, Australia 592-4 (D. C. Boon 138*, S. R. Waugh 0*); Third day, England 193-9 (A. R. Caddick 11*, P. C. R. Tufnell 0*); Fourth day, England 237-3 (M. W. Gatting 58*, G. A. Hick 30*).