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Rediff.com  » Cricket » McGrath high-five checks England

McGrath high-five checks England

Last updated on: July 22, 2005 10:58 IST

Glenn McGrath produced an extraordinary display of fast bowling, joining the 500-Test-wicket club in the process, as Australia took control of a dramatic opening day of the Ashes series on Thursday.

Scorecard

The world champions looked in trouble after collapsing to a frenetic 190 all out in 40.2 overs at a packed Lord's, Steve Harmison taking five for 43.

But McGrath outdid that as he scythed through the top order, taking five for 21 as England limped off on 92 for seven.

The host nation's misery was complete when Ashley Giles backed away from a Brett Lee howitzer and trod on to his stumps following the final ball of the day.

"There was a little bit of variation in the wicket," said McGrath.

"I thought the guys who hit the deck hard probably extracted the most out of it, Harmison and Flintoff. What suited for me was a slightly fuller length."

In all, 14 of the 17 wickets fell from the Pavilion End, on a pitch offering some uneven bounce. Fine bowling and poor batting, however, were bigger factors.

Cutting the ball back off the seam and down the Lord's hill, McGrath took five wickets for two runs in an impeccable 31-ball burst in the evening sunshine to reduce England to 21 for five.

None of the top four batsmen got close to double figures and it took a 58-run stand from Kevin Pietersen (29 not out) and Geraint Jones (30) to restore some sense to the English reply. The 35-year-old McGrath, who goaded England before the series by predicting a 5-0 whitewash, had Marcus Trescothick (4) caught behind off the first ball after tea for his 500th victim. He followed that up four balls later when Andrew Strauss (2) went in similar fashion.

Soon it was 18 for three as another delivery bit back off the seam, flattening Michael Vaughan's stumps.

Ian Bell edged another waspish delivery into his leg stump, while Andrew Flintoff was castled without scoring as the ball skittled through low.

Australia have not lost to England at Lord's for 71 years.

CAREER DOUBT

McGrath, whose career looked in doubt last year following ankle surgery, hopes to pass Courtney Walsh's 519 Test wickets to become the most successful pace bowler in history.

Only two other men, spinners Shane Warne (583) and Muttiah Muralitharan (539), have taken more Test wickets.

Until McGrath's intervention, England had dominated the day in bruising fashion while Australia had looked like they were playing one-day cricket as they capitulated in 40.2 overs.

Harmison, a very different bowler to McGrath, relied on fire and brimstone rather than slide-rule accuracy.

Justin Langer, who top-scored with a 44-ball 40, received his calling card with the second ball of the match as he was struck on the arm.

Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting took ringing blows to the helmet, with the Australian captain suffering a gash after his grille smashed into his right cheek as he hooked too early.

"I bowl to get people out, not to hurt them," said Harmison.

Hayden, perhaps unsettled, fell for 12 to Matthew Hoggard, who finally found his line to pluck out the off stump. Ponting followed for nine, squared up by Harmison and edging into the slips.

WILD WAFT

From 66 for two it was soon 87 for five. Flintoff, with his fourth ball, got Langer to top-edge a pull.

Simon Jones, with his first delivery, induced a wild waft from Damien Martyn and another edge.

Australia took an unpalatable lunch on 97 for five before Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne fought back.

Gilchrist, a man with no plan B and dealing in boundaries, carved 26 off 19 deliveries before a huge swipe off Flintoff ended in Geraint Jones's gloves.

Warne took the same approach to reach 28 before he walked across his stumps and was bowled off his pad by Harmison.

Warne and Katich put on 49 in 47 balls for the seventh wicket but Katich quickly followed.

McGrath, the world's top bowler, had wrecked the England top order while Harmison, ranked number one last year, laid waste to the Australian tail, tieing loose ends up with four wickets for seven runs in a 14-ball burst.

The two bowlers share a mutual admiration. On Thursday, they came close to sharing the limelight but it was the Australian who ended with the widest smile.

"The team is pretty disappointed about the way the second half went," acknowledged Harmison.

Tony Lawrence
Source:
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