Cricket-England in Trouble against Australia

Article excerpt

ENGLAND'S campaign to win back the Ashes was in danger of being derailed almost as soon as it began when they were left battling to save the opening test against Australia today.

The Aussies, after struggling on the opening day of the series on Friday, began to tighten the screws on England from the outset of play on the second day at the Gabba.

Ian Healy (134) and Steve Waugh (112) both blasted centuries as Australia compiled an imposing first innings total of 485 then paceman Glenn McGrath had England reeling when he dismissed Michael Atherton for a duck.

England almost lost Mark Butcher soon after when McGrath found the edge of his bat but the ball failed to carry to the Australian slips cordon.

Butcher survived to fight another day as he and Nasser Hussain took England's score along to 53 for one at stumps although England still face the daunting prospect of batting through the next two days to try to salvage affairs.

It was clear shortly after the start of play on Saturday that this was not going to be England's day.

England's players were already rueing the fact that they dropped catches from both Healy and Waugh late on Friday and were keen to make amends.

They almost had the early breakthrough they desperately needed when Healy misjudged a delivery from Yorkshire paceman Darren Gough but the gods were against them.

The ball rolled into the stumps off Healy's bat but did not dislodge the bails, giving the Australian wicketkeeper another life.

Both he and Waugh made the most of their let-offs, smashing 102 runs in the opening session as England's pacemen began to wilt.

Waugh, starting the day on 69, reached his 16th test century shortly before lunch while Healy, who resumed on 46, completed his fourth just two overs later. …