Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Symonds rubs salt in England's wounds

MAN OF THE MOMENTAustralia were in trouble at 84 for five when Symonds came to the crease, but the allrounder dug his heels in and scored a gritty century

AP , MELBOURNE

The Ashes 2006/2007Andrew Symonds posted his maiden Test hundred and shared a 279-run sixth-wicket stand with Matthew Hayden that prolonged both his Test career and England's Ashes woes.

Having already relinquished the Ashes with three straight losses, England enjoyed a rare spell of domination yesterday when its pacemen had Australia reeling at 84 for five on the second morning of the fourth Test.

Enter Symonds. His place in doubt and with an average of 18 in 11 previous Tests, the 31-year-old allrounder joined Queensland state teammate and long-time fishing friend Hayden with the ball seaming around and the innings in trouble.

Australia were 75 runs in arrears of England's first innings 159 when the pair joined and 204 in front when Hayden's seven-hour innings ended, caught behind off Sajid Mahmood for 153 about 25 minutes before stumps.

Mahmood also had Adam Gilchrist (1) caught at second slip and Australia were 372 for seven at the close, with Symonds unbeaten on 154 and Shane Warne on four.

The usually freewheeling Symonds took 21 balls to get off the mark and was four from 32 deliveries at the lunch interval.

With Hayden anchoring the innings and making his way steadily to a 27th Test hundred, Symonds settled into his rhythm in the afternoon session.

He lifted his tempo as he checked off the milestones, making his third Test half century, then surpassing his previous highest Test score, before clobbering Paul Collingwood for a six down the ground to reach triple figures.

Symonds, a fixture of Australia's limited-overs lineup but always a questionable selection in the Test team, ran back down the pitch for a mid-air hug with Hayden and a salute to the team rooms.

His innings contained 16 boundaries and a six from 215 balls.

Hayden plundered two sixes and 11 boundaries, reaching his century with a straight six and another drive to the long-on boundary in consecutive overs from Monty Panesar.

The 35-year-old opener moved level with former skipper Allan Border into fourth on the all-time list of Australian century makers and seventh on the international list headed by India's Sachin Tendulkar (35).

It was only Hayden's second Test hundred of the year, having been out three times in the 90s, although it was his fifth in six Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The MCG also proved to be a happy venue for Symonds. He and Hayden combined in a 124-run stand here last year against South Africa, where Symonds plundered six sixes in his 72, his highest Test score until this match.

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