Match reports


Toss: Australia.

Toss: Australia.
Chastened by losing in Adelaide, Australia hit back with their biggest win of the rubber. Blewett became their third player, after Bill Ponsford (1924-25) and Doug Walters (1965-66), to score hundreds in his first two Tests; Slater made his fourth in 11 Tests against England and McDermott ended proceedings before lunch on the last day by taking six for 38.
A vigorous hundred by Thorpe and two calm innings from Ramprakash, who displaced Tufnell from the winning team of Adelaide, were England's only gains. Things started going wrong from the moment Gooch, at third slip, missed Slater off Malcolm's fourth ball - the first of seven missed catches in the innings, and ten by England in the match. Gooch had announced that his 118th Test, breaking David Gower's England record, would be his last, and Gatting followed suit. Though Gooch finished with 8,900 Test runs - behind only Border and Gavaskar - scores of 37 and four for him, and nought and eight for Gatting, were an inappropriate end to distinguished Test careers.
Winning a good toss and scoring 402, Australia lost command only while Thorpe and Ramprakash were adding 158 in England's first innings. Thrown together at 77 for four on the second evening, they were still there 40 minutes into the third afternoon. Then, at 235, Thorpe jumped down the pitch to off-drive Warne, and was expertly stumped by Healy off a top-spinner that reached him shoulder-high.
But England might have seized the initiative several times. After Lewis, in a fast spell, dismissed Taylor and Boon in successive overs, he had Mark Waugh dropped at 18 by Crawley in the gully. Then Malcolm missed Slater at 59 off an undemanding caught and bowled and gave him a third life, at 87, when he misjudged a hook off Defreitas. After Slater and Waugh had added 183, Lewis and Defreitas traded catches off each other's bowling to remove them at last. England made a lucky start to the second day when Blewett was given out caught from a deflection off his thigh, but their catching soon redressed the balance. The most expensive miss came when Steve Waugh, on 35, slashed Defreitas shoulder-high between two motionless slips, Thorpe and Atherton. Angel, who helped Waugh add 58, was also dropped, twice, by Rhodes and Atherton. Waugh was finally stranded on 99 when his twin Mark, McDermott's runner, attempted an improbable single and was thrown out at the bowler's end by Gooch. Steve, frequently beaten in his first 50, had dug in for 289 minutes, sealing Australia's advantage.
The temporary absence of McDermott, who had strained his back, provided little relief. After three Tests as 12th man, McGrath, in his first over, had Atherton caught down the leg side off a glove and next ball bowled Gatting via an inside edge. Ninety minutes later, Mark Waugh's first over saw off Gooch and Crawley.
Thorpe, hitting confidently through the line of his off and straight drives, needed only 218 balls to score 123 and struck 19 fours. Most of Ramprakash's 11 fours were sturdily driven between mid-off and mid-on, but his encouraging innings ended when he attempted to ward off a huge leg-break from Warne. Lewis, missed off a sharp caught-and-bowled chance by Angel before scoring, hit eight fours in an hour. Nevertheless, from Thorpe's dismissal, England lost six for 60 to be 107 behind.
Despite having his right thumb broken in Malcolm's third over, Slater gave Australia a flying start, scoring 45 off 55 balls before Atherton took a lovely diving catch at second slip. Even after protecting Boon by using a night-watchman uncharacteristically early - 25 minutes from the close - Australia were forced to consolidate when they slipped to 123 for five. But Blewett, off-driving as handsomely as in Adelaide and this time scoring as smoothly off his legs, removed all danger of Australia losing. Outscoring Waugh by 114 to 77 in a stand of 203, he faced only 158 balls, hitting 19 fours.
Left 104 overs to hold out for a draw after Taylor's declaration - a target of 453 was well out of range - England's hopes were shattered when McDermott and McGrath ripped five out for 27 in 14 overs before the close. Menacingly as they bowled to a catching ring of seven, it was feeble batting on a pitch still full of runs. Atherton's dismissal to the 12th ball of the final morning, again caught down the leg side off McGrath, made Australia's third win a certainty. Ramprakash and Rhodes, adding 68, threatened to take the game into the afternoon, until Mark Waugh cramped Ramprakash with unexpected bounce; unable to get on top of it, he cut to gully. McDermott saw the tail off in four overs, claiming his 32nd wicket of the series by cartwheeling Malcolm's middle stump with a dramatic yorker.
Man of the Match: S. R. Waugh. Man of the Series: C. J. McDermott.
Attendance: 71,679.
Close of play: First day, Australia 283-4 (S. R. Waugh 23*, G. S. Blewett 17*); Second day, England 110-4 (G. P. Thorpe 54*, M. R. Ramprakash 14*); Third day, Australia 87-2 (M. A. Taylor 32*, D. C. Boon 6*); Fourth day, England 27-5 (M. A. Atherton 8*, M. R. Ramprakash 0*).