Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Giles warns England will fight back after slow start

TOURIST TRAPRicky Ponting plundered the English attack on the first day of the Ashes to hammer home his 32nd Test century and lift Australia to 346 for three

AGENCIES , BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

British Prime Ministry Tony Blair goes to catch a ball thrown by a young boy during a demonstration of quick cricket inside 10 Downing Street in London late on Wednesday, hours ahead of the start of the Ashes.

PHOTO: AP

The ASHES 2006/2007

England spinner Ashley Giles hasn't given up hope of winning the opening Ashes Test after Australia dominated the first day yesterday.

England spent a long difficult day in the sun as Australia's batsmen went on the rampage to pile on 364 for three to take control of the match.

England were thrashed by 384 runs in the corresponding match four years ago after ending the first day in similar trouble, but Giles said the tourists were better equipped this time.

"This side doesn't lie down, so I'm sure we'll be back in the morning coming out fighting," Giles told a news conference.

"The guys will keep their heads up. The guys are tired, obviously, but I know this England team and tomorrow the boys will come out buzzing. We'll be looking to pick up some early wickets, that's all we can do," he said.

Giles, who was given the nod ahead of Monty Panesar to play his first Test in a year, said the England players were a bundle of nerves on the first day.

"We were all pretty tense. The bus was a quiet place this morning," Giles said.

"We've all been there before, the first day of an Ashes series, but you can't really prepare that well for it. You know you're going to be nervous and you've got to get yourself into it," he said.

Ricky Ponting yesterday joined Steve Waugh as Australia's greatest century-maker in Test cricket as he plundered the English attack for the ninth century in his last 12 Tests to make an emphatic statement of Australia's intent to wrest the Ashes back off England with a thumping first-day total of 346 for three.

At the close of a deflating day for England, Ponting, in the richest form of his career, was unconquered on 137 off 206 balls with Mike Hussey not out 63 in an unbroken partnership of 148.

"We've all been thinking about today for a long time and all have been preparing for it for a long time as well, so to go out today and do it when it mattered was a nice start for the series for us," Ponting said.

"In saying that, it's just one day down in the series for us and we've got to build on that tomorrow," he said.

Ponting, leading from the front in his 106th Test, made it a day of personal milestones as he equaled Waugh's record of 32 Test hundreds and moved to fourth all-time in Tests.

The 31-year-old also leapfrogged Englishman Graham Gooch and Pakistan's Javed Miandad to become the sixth all-time leading Test scorer.

Before a ground Test record of 39,288, Ponting also raised 5,000 Test runs in Australia and his fourth century at the Gabba ground.

It was a psychological mauling for Andrew Flintoff's tourists, who struggled to restrict the Australian scoring as the home team hummed along at more than four runs an over.

The tone was set in a rollicking morning session with the Australians going to lunch at 109 for only the loss of Matthew Hayden (21).

It was 217 for three at tea and Ponting and Hussey thwarted England's attempts for another breakthrough and batted all the way through the extended evening session to stumps.

Flintoff was England's best bowler with 2-48, snaring the wickets of Hayden and Justin Langer (82), while Giles removed Damien Martyn (29).

Langer was out 20 minutes after lunch when he cut straight to Kevin Pietersen at point off Flintoff.

It was a huge relief for Pietersen, who had the ignominy of dropping six catches during last year's series win.

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