Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan's Fab Four Put Aussies on Rack; England Lose Toss but the Pace Bowlers Cause Havoc

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan's Fab Four Put Aussies on Rack; England Lose Toss but the Pace Bowlers Cause Havoc

Article excerpt


STEVE HARMISON finally gained the reward he deserved for a magnificently hostile new-ball burst at a spellbound Lord's today.

England's 90mph express hit Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting with fiery deliveries as Michael Vaughan's men tried to make their presence felt at the start of the Ashes series.

Langer was struck on the arm, Hayden had his helmet rattled and then captain Ponting needed treatment for a cheek wound after being cracked on his protective visor.

But the blow England wanted above all others finally came during Harmison's seventh over when Ponting edged to Andrew Strauss at third slip. No one was more relieved than Kevin Pietersen, who had dropped Ponting - on nought - in the gully area off Hoggard's bowling.

But how Harmison had earned his success. And, with Hoggard having already sent back Hayden, Australia were 55 for two.

That was not the end of England's morning joy by any means. Eleven runs later, Langer tried to hook Andrew Flintoff 's fourth ball and a skyed catch landed in Harmison's big hands at square leg.

Then almost unbelievably, Australia dived to 66 for four with Damien Martyn edging Simon Jones's first delivery through to the keeper Geraint Jones - as Vaughan's fab four bowlers caught Ponting's men cold.

England knew they would have to work hard after losing the toss. Still, at least the bright sunshine and all blue sky of early morning had given way to some reasonably heavy cloud cover - and it certainly seemed to assist the bowlers.

Vaughan's short and simple last instruction to England could not have been more straightforward. "Enjoy it," he told them. They would have taken a good of encouragement from Harmison's second ball of the match.

His first delivery was just too wide to make Langer play, but an acceptable sighter nonetheless. The next, though, hit the former Middlesex batsman just above his right elbow.

Initially Langer tried to hide the pain but, within second, he walked away from stumps, grimaced and saw an ugly bruise forming just above his arm guard. He may not be the most popular member of this Australian side and is known for having more a few words with opposition batsmen when in the field.

But he is nothing if not a fighter.

Right enough, Langer was ready to continue after some treatment from the physio - and he responded to the indignity of being hurt by ondriving the next ball for three.

But that was by no means the end of the first over drama, though.

Harmison promptly beat Hayden with one that swung past the outside edge, then Australia's tall opener was given four runs for a ball that appeared to hit his hip before just eluding Geraint Jones' dive down the leg side. A pulled two meant that nine had come off the opening over, but England were not downhearted. …

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