Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Are Squeezed out as the 'Dreadator' Becomes the Predator

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Are Squeezed out as the 'Dreadator' Becomes the Predator

Article excerpt


THEY are ruthless judges of player in Australia. After Andrew Symonds lost his door-die slogging battle with Monty Panesar on the first day of the Perth Test, his compatriots quickly forgot about the brief, glorious demonstration of his hitting power and once again sighed about a cricketer who has never quite delivered what he promised.

Yet if the papers here were left tuttutting about how this mercurial talent failed to walk the right side of line between adventure and recklessness as he smashed 17 in one over from Monty and then got out the next, opinions were having to be quickly revised today as the dreadlocked all-rounder made amends for his batting misjudgement with a performance in the field which embodied Australia's aggression and excellence.

For while there was some wonderful resistance from Kevin Pietersen and Panesar this afternoon, Australia managed to eke out a first-innings lead of 29 thanks not just to their principal hunters, Stuart Clark, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, but also to the unlikely intervention of Symonds's gentle offerings.

Never mind the predator quicks, here was the plodding "Dreadator".

More than that on a morning at the WACA when the hosts again reverted to their world champions mode by bowling with testing, almost strangling, accuracy and by fielding in the extreme heat with tremendous efficiency, it was Symonds who quite set the tone from the opening overs with his velociraptorswift work in the outfield.

Earlier in the week, the 31-year-old who has never quite translated his crash-bang brilliance from the one-day to the Test arena celebrated his recall by digging out his baggy green cap -"It smelled of beer and sweat" - and remembering how desperately he had loved playing for his country.

Here was a performance to prove that desire.

Clark, McGrath and Lee had been softening up the English batting all morning, hunting them with patience and reducing them to 82 for four before the key partnership of Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff began to threaten mini-revival.

So when Ricky Ponting tossed the ball to Symonds, even before Shane Warne in the pecking order, you could almost sense the feeling of relief in the England ranks that this all-rounder's less threatening stuff must signal the release of the pressure valve.

From the nearby commentary box, Geoff Boycott could be heard muttering that anyone getting out to this bloke on this pitch ought to be shot. Sure enough, within minutes, Flintoff had turned the revolver on himself.

For 45 minutes, the England captain had looked particularly out-of-sorts in the face of another searching examination from Lee.

He had ducked under the odd bouncer which threatened to take off his head and, with his feet planted, swished wildly and unconvincingly at wider deliveries whistling through at up to 95mph. …

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