Warne spins England to the brink

A leg-spin masterclass from Test cricket’s leading wicket taker guided England to the edge of a crushing defeat in the First Test of the 2005 Ashes summer at Lord’s.

Australia, dominant ever since Glenn McGrath tore through England’s top order on Thursday afternoon, took the opportunity to liberally apply more salt to the already ample English wounds. Simon Katich expertly shepherded the tourists’ tail to add 105 to their already imposing 314-run advantage as Australia recovered from the early loss of Brett Lee, brilliantly run out by Ashley Giles (you read correctly) from backward point.

Scenting an opening, and an outside chance of a comeback, England’s hopes were soon summarily extinguished by a pair of doughty stands between the New South Wales left-hander and tailenders Jason Gillespie and McGrath. Gillespie stuck around to add 52 before Simon Jones found enough away movement to knock back his off stump. It was just reward for the Welsh quick, who had seen Geraint Jones spill a reasonably simple catch to his right minutes before.

There was time for more fielding disasters from the English in the final partnership of the innings, with first Andrew Flintoff shelling a regulation chance at second slip before Geraint Jones contrived to spill a skier after McGrath failed to deal with a short ball from the keeper’s namesake. It was Simon who eventually took the catch to close the Australian innings, safely pounching Katich’s up-and-under to third man off Steve Harmison.

Set 420 to win, England needed a miracle – and it seemed that the first step had been taken when Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss navigated their way through the afternoon session, to leave England 66 without loss at tea – but with Shane Warne extracting prodiguous turn and Trescothick fortunate to survive an LBW shout on the stroke of the interval, that was as good as it got for the hosts.

Neither left-hander looked remotely at ease against the leg-spinner, with several strong LBW appeals turned down, but it was Brett Lee that drew first blood, Strauss fending a short ball vertically for the bowler to complete a fine diving catch. Warne then collected Trescothick and Ian Bell with a pair of sliders, Trescothick’s defensive fizzing to Matt Hayden at slip before Bell misjudged and left a straight ball.

Michael Vaughan played all around another straight delivery, this time from Lee, to see his off-stump cartwheeling before a third Warne slider accounted for Andrew Flintoff, top edging a cut to Gilchrist. Geraint Jones and Kevin Pietersen were able to see England to the end of play unbowed – Pietersen immensely lucky to see Rudi Koertzen’s finger remain down having been pinned by a Lee full toss.

Intermittent drizzle and fading light brought the day’s play to an end, and for England the only way that they can realistically hope to save the match will be to pray for more of that particular element. Lots more.

Australia 190
Justin Langer 40, Shane Warne 28
Steve Harmison 5-43, Simon Jones 2-48

England 155
Kevin Pietersen 57, Geraint Jones 30
Glenn McGrath 5-53, Brett Lee 3-47

Australia 384
Michael Clarke 91, Simon Katich 67
Steve Harmison 3-54, Matthew Hoggard 2-56

England 156-5
Marcus Trescothick 44, Kevin Pietersen 42*
Shane Warne 3-46, Brett Lee 2-58

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Neil Pickup