Ashes Cricket News 06/01/03
Report By Jon Cocks
It was a Happy New Year for the Englishmen, especially on the final morning of this Ashes series, as they captured five Australian wickets before lunch for 104 to close in on victory. The pitch - especially useful to Andy Caddick - came to the England party. Bowling from the Paddington End, he was able to pitch regularly in a substantial section of it just short of a length that was very uneven, getting the ball to rear disconcertingly regularly or stay at ankle height.
The second ball that Bichel faced popped up at his chin and he fended it away, just short of the grasping off side infield. At the end of that over, Caddick trapped Bichel on the crease, with Umpire Tiffin’s finger of death going up once again for a ball that might arguably have gone down leg side. Michael Atherton – commenting on Nine – felt that Bichel, who did not add to his overnight 49, might have been unlucky.
Steve Waugh strode out to the middle. Could he add substantially to his 10,033 Test runs at 49.66 in his 244th and possibly final innings? The captain took the first ball he faced from his legs for a boundary, but in the following over he ducked into one that didn’t get up, somewhat reminiscent of Tendulkar’s ‘shoulder-before-wicket’ in Adelaide a few summers previously. It didn’t matter, as Waugh (6) was bowled off his inside edge by Caddick shortly afterwards.
Martin Love, on a pair, began confidently with a couple of stylish drives, but Martyn (21) edged Dawson into his thigh, with Stewart hooking in a good catch to his left on the rebound. Adam Gilchrist (37) and Martin Love (27) decided to play some shots, the latter leaning stylishly on a couple of overpitched deliveries and square cutting another to the point boundary.
Umpire Tiffin actually turned down an LBW appeal from Harmison against Love, but it mattered for little, as the next delivery from the big man stayed down and disturbed the timber. Brett Lee survived the pair, off the mark with a glorious cover drive to the rope from the second ball he faced. Gilchrist swept and cut Dawson to the rope and smashed three successive fours from the bowling of Harmison (9-1-42-1), with further boundaries in that over and the next, before Caddick got one to jump from a length, catch his glove and balloon to Butcher at second slip.
Jason Gillespie emerged, his left elbow heavily bandaged, and was clearly restricted in his movement, content to make England wait as long as possible for victory. He used his height to stretch forward and defend at every chance, while Brett Lee opened his shoulders at the other end, clubbing Hoggard (13-3-35-1) over midwicket to the rope and driving him for another boundary.
After lunch, Brett Lee (46) was determined to enjoy himself, taking 14 from Caddick’s first over and 12 from the second. The packed Hill roared its approval, as the match continued to provide wonderful entertainment even in its death throes. Loud boos greeted an optimistic Dawson (10-2-41-1) appeal for a catch at the wicket against Gillespie (3*), who looked to keep the off spinner at bay, while Lee made hay while the sun shone against Caddick. However, Caddick grabbed his sixth wicket and his best bowling performance in Ashes Test, when another one leapt from a length, caught Lee’s glove and sailed comfortably to Stewart.
The end was nigh. Stuart MacGill backed away from his first ball, slashed square and the wild return to the keeper conceded an overthrow. Caddick (22-5-94-7) clean bowled MacGill (1) to grab ten wickets for the match and Australia was bowled out for 226, exactly half the improbable victory target.
Amid deafening Barmy Army adulation, England had achieved victory by 225 runs. Their players saluted the loyal fans, carrying a large cross of St George down to where the travelling fans continued to chant and cheer themselves hoarse, and the curtain came down on one of the most memorable and emotional Ashes Test matches ever.
At the post-match trophy presentation, Man of the Match and the Series Michael Vaughan (three big centuries, average 63) said:
‘…to actually beat this team…is a fantastic achievement and shows we have a lot of character in that (England) dressing room…I’d like to first congratulate Steve and his team for retaining the Ashes…you’ve been magnificent all series…to my team, thanks for all your support, not just the players but the management…to all the Australian public – thanks for your support and encouragement…and last, but not least, thanks to all the British supporters out here…to the Barmy Army - you’ve been fantastic…’
Nasser Hussain added:
‘I’d like to congratulate Steve Waugh on his innings and the way he went about his whole game at the SCG…if they (Australia) is not the best team in the world, then we’ve got big troubles against South Africa this (coming English) summer…I’d like to thank all the British supporters…we let them down for the first four Test matches, but I hope we played a little bit better here…’
Steve Waugh had the last word:
‘…I’d like to thank the crowds over this series…they’ve really been fantastic and that certainly makes you want to play good cricket…from a personal point of view, thank you very much to the Sydney crowd. It really lifted me and made it a special occasion…and to the Barmy Army – they’ve certainly added to the atmosphere…to my guys – it really has been a privilege to be captain of this cricket side and I’m very proud of the way we played and the development of all the players of the past couple of years…to Nasser Hussain and the English side – well done on this Test match. You certainly outplayed us and I’m sure there are enough positive signs for the future…I really enjoyed playing this Test match series. I always enjoy playing against England and hopefully there’ll be some great battles ahead between the sides. It’s always a proud moment to be the Australian captain and to win an Ashes series and let’s hope that the next series is a close contest. We really enjoyed this one, and, once again, thanks for turning up in such tremendous numbers.’