Ashes 2009: England Hang On For Unlikely Draw

Ashes 2009: England Hang On For Unlikely Draw
Ashes 2009: England Hang On For Unlikely Draw
©Action Images / Carl Recine Livepic

England 435 & 252-9 (Collingwood 74) drew with
Australia 674-6 dec. (Ponting 150, North 125no)

First Test, Cardiff, day five:stumps
By John Pennington

An engrossing final day's play in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff ended with England holding on to seal an unlikely draw that owed much to an outstanding rearguard innings from Paul Collingwood.

Monty Panesar was meant to play a role with the ball, picked alongside Graeme Swann as one of two spinners, but it was he and James Anderson who blocked, blocked, and blocked some more to keep Australia at bay for 69 balls after Collingwood's epic innings was ended inside the final hour.

Collingwood, playing a workmanlike, determined innings, defied Australia for much of the day, eking out 74 in 245 deliveries before he departed with 11 and a half overs of play remaining. He was the only top order batsman to show the required application, concentration and technique to keep their side in the game.

Three of those, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Matthew Prior, were dismissed in the morning session; Pietersen was bowled offering no stroke to Ben Hilfenhaus, Strauss was caught behind trying to cut Nathan Hauritz, and Prior was caught at slip off the same bowler to leave Australia sensing an early victory.

Resuming on 20 for two, England made a slow start and Pietersen, anticipating the ball to swing, made an error of judgement with the result that his off stump took a tumble, much to the delight of the Australians. Hilfenhaus would finished with three for 47, by far the most impressive of Australia's bowlers with his control and swing.

He had made eight and it took nearly 45 minutes for England to find the boundary, a crisp cut shot from Strauss (17) crossing the ropes but attempting the same shot one ball later brought about his downfall, a thin edge being well taken by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.

Prior became Hauritz's second victim when he edged a bouncing delivery to Michael Clarke at slip having made 14. It was an ill-judged shot but Hauritz had caused problems for all the Englishmen, Collingwood almost being caught at short leg and then only being saved by some nifty footwork as the ball rolled back towards his stumps.

Andrew Flintoff (26) raised a cheer by hitting the last ball before the break for a boundary to bring up England's century and he hit two more fours in a patient innings before edging Mitchell Johnson to Ricky Ponting, who took his 150th catch in Tests inches above the ground.

Broad dug in, lucky to escape an lbw appeal first ball looked perilously adjacent and then an edge that just evaded Clarke but his luck ran out when he played back to Hauritz and was trapped in front for 14.

Swann then put a little pressure back on Australia with a punchy innings of 31 in 63 balls with four fours but Australia's chances grew when he was trapped in front trying to pull Hilfenhaus away. He had earlier been given a fearsome working over from Siddle that required two visits from the England physio in one over to treat blows to the finger and elbow while he also copped a blow on the helmet after tea.

Collingwood and Anderson bravely resisted the new ball before the former chipped the persistent Siddle to Mike Hussey in the gully, who took the catch at the second attempt.

That left Anderson and Monty Panesar with the task of saving the match and with every defensive stroke being cheered loudly, they they first kept the match alive, then saved it. There was an even bigger cheer when Anderson squirted Siddle to third man to put England ahead, taking a couple of overs to be bowled out of the equation.

Anderson and Panesar were not to be denied, and the loudest cheer was reserved for when the match was finally called a draw and hands were shaken out in the middle.

Ricky Ponting (150), Marcus North (125no), Simon Katich (122) and Brad Haddin (121) all scored centuries for Australia before they declared with a 239-run lead yesterday.

© Cricket World 2009