Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Aussie Pair Seize the Moment to Halt England's Ashes Revival; THE SECOND ASHES TEST, DAY FOUR

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Aussie Pair Seize the Moment to Halt England's Ashes Revival; THE SECOND ASHES TEST, DAY FOUR

Article excerpt


EVEN if Shane Warne can't conjure up something wholly improbable tomorrow to prevent a Second Test stalemate here at the Adelaide Oval, Australian cricket will still be able to toast a hugely significant day when the most dazzling face of its glorious recent past combined with the forgotten face of its future to make the Ashes present look exceedingly rosy for the world champions.

In just one blistering half-hour period before lunch, Adam Gilchrist, in so many ways the explosive embodiment of the baggy greens' attacking cricket revolution this past decade, made a nonsense of the idea that he was washed up as cricket's most devastating counterattacking force.

For he momentarily threatened, as so often in the past, to quite rewrite England's examination.

Then after Gilly's born- again pyrotechnics, Michael Clarke produced an innings of new-found patience and maturity for his first Test century for two years to remind us why he was anointed the golden boy of Australian cricket before enduring a hellish spell trying and failing to live up to his billing.

It was difficult to gauge from Ricky Ponting's smiles in the dressing room exactly what made him happiest - the thumping cameo from his 35-year-old champion keeper which banished the fond idea that he had become England's bunny; or the second coming of a 25-year-old wonder boy who, just like the young Ponting himself once did, had to negotiate painful lessons before his reinvention.

Whatever happens tomorrow, in the context of the rest of the series, these performances can only bolster Australia's confidence.

For England, here were the bad old days of the Gilchrist of old, the awesome dasher, not the cowed figure who'd been so worked over by Freddie Flintoff 's round-the-wicket assault last summer that the popular line was that the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman in history was history.

Since the beginning of that series, their magnificent No7 had played 18 Tests but passed fifty just thrice, averaging about 26 - a figure bolstered by a giveaway hundred against Bangladesh - compared to his previous career mark of over 50.

Frankly, for a time this morning, you could be persuaded of his declining powers too as Flintoff first beat him and then induced him to almost hole out to Ian Bell at gully.

Harmison nearly yorked him but just as conspicuously as he had struggled, reaching 28 off his 56 balls, Gilchrist suddenly erupted into life.

Starting with two murderous cover driven boundaries off Harmison, he proceeded to smash 36 runs off his final 23 balls, a glorious panoply of strokeplay which no other batsman in this game, not Ponting nor Pietersen, has remotely matched.

He had just started taking a fancy to Ashley Giles's mundane offerings when, aiming to deposit him somewhere in the general vicinity of St Peter's Cathedral way over the top of the Chappell Stands, he ended up miscuing to Bell at deep midwicket. …

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