For the second Test in succession, an engagingly irrational batting display by England on the final day transformed a routine draw into something that briefly promised more. History, as much as England's lack of depth, proclaimed that they had no chance of scoring 472 when Border declared three-quarters of an hour before the close of the fourth day. The scoreboard proved history and the form-book correct, but only after England had gone to tea on the fifth afternoon at 267 for two, thanks to an opening stand of 203 between Gooch and Atherton, and a cameo by Lamb. England had scored 152 in 30 overs since lunch, and Border was disconcerted enough to let the game drift to stalemate, rather than move on to the attack when England lost Lamb, Gower and Stewart within 10 runs.
Australia made their one batting change of the series, bringing in Mark Waugh at the expense of his twin brother, Steve, whose sequence of 42 Tests since his début against India at Melbourne in 1985-86 was thus broken. McDermott and Hughes replaced Alderman and Rackemann. Missing on the England side was Russell, whose run of twenty Tests as wicket-keeper ended when misgivings about Fraser's hip prompted the inclusion of a fifth bowler, with Stewart keeping wicket. It turned out to be a worthwhile precaution; Fraser twisted an ankle in the first innings, though he came back to bowl at less than full pace in the second, while Tufnell missed most of the second and third days with tonsillitis. Lamb and Defreitas returned to displace Larkins and Hemmings.
For Waugh, by four minutes the younger of the 25-year-old twins, it proved a glorious début. He produced an innings which a batsman of any generation would have been overjoyed to play any time in his career, let alone on a first Test appearance and in a situation which verged on crisis. When he came in 52 minutes after lunch, Defreitas had dismissed Border and Jones in four balls, the former cramped by a quick break-back making extra height, which he played into his stumps. Boon followed 38 minutes later, caught at deep third man, to leave Australia 124 for five.
Waugh's shot off the mark, a flowing straight three off his second ball, was a portent of what was in store. In the evening his timing, range of strokes, and quick and confident footwork dazzled. He passed 50 in 74 balls, and needed only another 52 to reach his hundred, which came out of 148 runs in 176 minutes with his fifteenth four. Tufnell, unable to find either a trajectory or a length to hold him, was picked up over the on-side from down the pitch or hit off the back foot through the covers with equal certainty and style. On the second day Waugh lost his touch, but Matthews, almost unnoticed in their stand of 171, stretched a valuable but tedious innings to five and a quarter hours, and with McDermott steered Australia to 386 in 584 minutes.
England made a bad start when, in McDermott's third over, Atherton was judged lbw, padding up well outside off stump, and Lamb was caught at the wicket, the first of five catches for Healy. However, Gooch (284 minutes) and Smith added 126 in 200 minutes, but Gower, obligingly chipping the last ball of the morning to long leg, one of three men positioned for the stroke, ushered in a collapse that saw seven wickets fall for 69 runs. McDermott could have no complaint with figures of five for 97 in his first Test since 1988-89. Australia, leading by 157 with seven sessions to go, lost momentum when Marsh, Taylor and Jones were out by the tenth over. But the immovable Boon more than atoned for running out Taylor, adding 66 with Hughes, the night-watchman, and 110 with Border. Nothing he played at passed the bat in 368 minutes until he swept clumsily at Tufnell and was bowled for 121, his second Adelaide hundred against England. Border batted another 71 minutes, adding 74 with Matthews before his declaration.
When, in the first over of the final day, Atherton and Gooch sprinted four runs from a stroke to third man, rather than jogging three, it was obvious that Gooch had more than survival on his mind. Atherton confirmed it with three hooked fours, hitting each so well it was a mystery he played the stroke so rarely. It was only at lunch, though, with England 115 for no wicket, that Gooch decided the distant goal was worth a try. His explosive driving, mainly through mid-off and extra cover off Matthews and McDermott, brought him another 58 in 57 minutes before Marsh, at gully, caught a full-blooded slash off Reid. His first Test hundred in Australia contained twelve fours and lasted 214 minutes and 188 balls. Atherton followed 36 minutes later, hitting Reid to cover, but Lamb, 46 at tea off 38 balls, kept the goal in sight until McDermott and Hughes forced England on to the defensive.
Man of the Match: G. A. Gooch. Attendance: 78,676.
Close of play: First day, Australia 269-5 (M. E. Waugh 116*, G. R. J. Matthews 29*); Second day, England 95-2 (G. A. Gooch 50*, R. A. Smith 36*); Third day, Australia 68-4 (D. C. Boon 24*, M. G. Hughes 3*); Fourth day, England 19-0 (G. A. Gooch 14*, M. A. Atherton 1*).