A magnificent innings of 177 from Michael Vaughan has enabled England to carry the fight to Australia on the first day of the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval. After Nasser Hussain won the toss, England ended the day on 295 for four when Vaughan was caught at slip off Andy Bichel in the final over. Vaughan shared in an opening partnership of 88 with Marcus Trescothick (35) and added 140 with Hussain (47).
Vaughan continued to show the form which has put the 28-year-old second behind Sachin Tendulkar on the run scorers' list for the calendar year 2002. He outshone his England team-mates and outwitted the Australian bowlers, showing the way for other players and teams to play and beat Australia.
The Yorkshire opener had some help from Australia. Their usually reliable fielders dropped six catches on what proved to be a beautiful batting track with true bounce. But Vaughan's amazing innings included an array of shots to all parts of the ground.
Trescothick and Vaughan got England off to a great start with a run rate of over three an over. They share a similar approach to the game to that of Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden, and Vaughan played much like Hayden did in the opening Test at Brisbane.
Each was given a life in the first session. Three balls after smashing Bichel (1/67) for six, Vaughan sliced to Langer at gully where he appeared to take a great catch. Vaughan stood his ground and the matter was referred to third umpire Steve Davis. As the evidence was inconclusive, he gave Vaughan the benefit of the doubt. The decision could have changed the course of the game, with Vaughan going on to make his best score outside England.
Trescothick then hit the ball hard to gully, where Hayden couldn't hold on, allowing the ball to go through to the boundary. Bichel later claimed a return catch as Trescothick drove, and once again the third umpire was consulted. Replays clearly showed the ball bouncing before it reached Bichel and Trescothick was ruled not out.
Shane Warne was brought into the attack earlier than expected, and the leg-spinner went for nine in his first over. It was Glenn McGrath made the much-needed breakthrough, bowling Trescothick off the bottom edge as the opener's luck ran out.
Robert Key, playing in place of the injured John Crawley, was promoted to number three because Mark Butcher was suffering from a migraine. Key and Vaughan took England to lunch at 1/94, but Key had made just one when he drove Warne into the shin of Ricky Ponting who caught the ball at the third attempt. Key stood his ground but the umpires confirmed the bad news.
This brought skipper Hussain to the crease and he took a back seat, enjoying the Vaughan show. The Yorkshire opener brought up his fifth century in nine Tests with a push to mid off. It was his sixth Test hundred in all, and included two sixes and 12 fours. In 12 matches he has made just under 1200 runs.
Vaughan and Hussain took England to tea on 2/201. The Australians made it harder for themselves again in the second session, dropping two catches and missing the chance of a run out.
Needing a breakthrough, Steve Waugh decided to bowl himself, but after five overs the skipper had some discomfort in his shoulder and returned the ball to Jason Gillespie, who still appeared troubled by his calf injury. When Vaughan ducked into a short ball he was hit on the shoulder, dropping his bat and crouching on the ground in pain.
Hussain, tied down as he approached 50, gave Warne his second wicket when he was caught behind off the bottom edge on 47, trying to cut. Butcher, showing no effects from his migraine, took boundaries with his first two scoring shots and with Vaughan continued to punish the toiling bowlers.
It was a clever bowling change that finally undid Vaughan, after Gillespie and McGrath had failed to break through with the new ball. Waugh turned to Bichel for the last over of the day, and Vaughan pushed defensively at the Queenslander's third ball, which carried to Warne at first slip.
England played some great cricket today, but they also had a lot of luck. Day two should be a cracker with a new batsman at the crease and Australia hungry for more wickets. England will need to bat positively, with Australia's batsmen eager for their turn on a beautiful wicket.