Shamik Das

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Punter turns the psychological screw

England coach Duncan Fletcher and his captain Andrew Flintoff contemplate defeat in the opening Ashes Test

Brisbane, First Test, Third Day: Australia 602/9 dec. & 181/1 (Langer 88*, Ponting 51*) v England 157 (Bell 50; McGrath 6-50, Clark 3-21)

Torture. A slow, excruciating torment for England's cricketers as their Ashes defence went from distressing to harrowing with Ricky Ponting putting them well and truly on the rack.

The Aussie skipper showed no mercy on the motherland, refusing to enforce the follow-on and choosing instead to give his bowlers a rest and carry on batting - compiling a colossal lead of 626 runs.

The Australians' first-innings advantage of 445 runs was the second biggest margin in Test history without the follow-on being enforced.

Ian Bell's half-century aside this was a truly atrocious day for English sport, and with Ponting determined to grind the visitors into the ground it looks like things can only get worse.

Matty Hayden gets himself run-out following a quick-fire 37

With just pride to play for, the imperative must be to avoid a record Test defeat - 675 runs - astonishingly inflicted by England at the Gabba exactly 78 years ago.

Catch the third day's highlights tonight on BBC Two at 11:20, and listen to live coverage of day four on Radio 4 198LW and the
BBC Sport website from midnight.


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