Jon Lewis struck early blows as England fought back after a poor batting performance, but their lack of runs proved crucial in the end
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A committed bowling display led by John Lewis eased
England's pain, but it was not enough to prevent
another defeat that was set up by a dire batting
effort. After England spluttered to 155 all out in 42
overs on a strange surface, the home team copied the
mistakes and dropped to 4 for 48 before sweating to a
Despite gaining an unlikely position of strength
through Lewis's three-wicket opening, England again
released the pressure and Michael Hussey responded
with a match-sealing 46. Hussey worked with Michael
Clarke and Brett Lee, who finished on 20 after
surviving a torrid spell from Andrew Flintoff, to
steer the side out of trouble. However, they were
fortunate to claim a bonus point from an encounter
that turned out to be relatively even.
Adam Gilchrist, the stand-in captain, committed
Australia's first serious lapse as he heaved Lewis to
James Anderson at fine leg on 8 and Matthew Hayden was
third out for 19 to a similar dismissal. After
Anderson had ended Brad Hodge's one-match opening at
No. 3 for 0, Lewis enticed Andrew Symonds (4) into
a wild flash that he nicked to Paul Nixon. Lewis
finished with 4 for 36 from his ten overs while
Anderson was also impressive in claiming 2 for 29.
"You can't fault what we did in the second half," Flintoff said. "You can't fault the commitment and the way they never gave up."
Hussey and Clarke, who played sensibly for 36
off 62, crawled forward in a 45-run stand, but Lewis
came back to force Clarke's exit with a leg-side
caught-behind and when Cameron White was lbw to
Anderson for 5 Australia were 6 for 108. It could have
been worse as Hussey looked guilty when surviving a
huge appeal for an edge on 19, but the shout was not
supported by Daryl Harper.
The television replays were inconclusive and Hussey later defended his decision to stand his ground. "I'm not a walker, unlike 'Gilly" [Gilchrist], who walks when he nicks," Hussey said. "I take the good decisions with the bad. I just leave it up to the umpires to make the decision." The ruling became more crucial with each run he scored and added to a poor day for the visitors.
England wasted their most entertaining opening of the
series with a horrific top-order collapse of 5 for 19
and they needed 31 from Jamie Dalrymple to eke out the
final total. The debutant Mal Loye and Andrew Strauss
gave the innings a huge boost by bringing up the 50
from 61 balls, but it was the high point of another
disastrous batting performance against Australia.
Glenn McGrath removes Ed Joyce, one of his three wickets
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They lost 3 for 1 in eight balls to fall to 5
for 71 as Glenn McGrath showed he had recovered from a
minor groin problem by taking 3 for 24. His first
eight overs included a hat-trick chance when he
removed Ed Joyce for 5 and Paul Collingwood for a
first-ball duck to Gilchrist catches.
Ian Bell's run-out was the worst of the dismissals
after he was involved in a massive mix-up with
Collingwood the delivery after Joyce had fallen. Bell
glided Mitchell Johnson to gully and then performed a
stuttering do-si-do with his partner while Cameron
White dived, mis-fielded and then back-handed the ball
on to the stumps. It was a stunning piece of work to
end a terrible communication breakdown.
At that point the batting mood dropped from optimistic
to black humour after the encouraging 52-run opening
partnership. Flintoff, who was leading the team
instead of Michael Vaughan, made a brief attempt at a
recovery with 27, which included three fours, but he
fell swiping Brett Lee to deep square leg where
Hodge collected a fine running and diving catch.
Mal Loye slog-sweeps Brett Lee for six before falling for 36
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Hodge was called into the side while Ricky Ponting
rested and he made sure the captain was not missed in
the field, even if he was unable to match his
performance with the bat. Strauss also fell to an
outstanding effort from Hodge when he pulled McGrath.
The ball lobbed in front of square leg, and Hodge
leapt at full length to accept a stunning one-handed
catch. Strauss posted a hard-working 18 after Loye's
breathtaking start to his international career earned
a run-a-ball 36.
Vaughan's hamstring tear provided a space in the squad
for Loye, who was spending the off-season with
Auckland in New Zealand, and it did not take him long
to put his signature on the game. Dropping down on one
knee to Lee, he produced an outrageous and stunning
slog-sweep for a six behind square leg to jump to 11.
The shot has been part of his repertoire since
Twenty20 was invented, but it was a shock to see it
against one of the game's fastest bowlers.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo