Sun, Jul 12, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Australia take charge of first Ashes Test

UNDER PRESSURE Marcus North’s century and Brad Haddin’s half-century increased the lead and England’s batsmen will need to be strong-willed in the second innings

AFP , CARDIFF

Australia’s Brad Haddin plays a shot during the fourth day of the first Ashes Test match against England at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Marcus North’s second century in three Tests left Australia in charge of their Ashes series opener against England yesterday.

Australia, at lunch on the fourth day at Sophia Gardens, were 577 for five in reply to England’s first innings 435, a lead of 142.

North was 101 not out and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, also playing his first Test against England, 50 not out.

North’s century meant he had become the 15th Australia player to make a century on his Test debut against England and the first since Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist both achieved the feat at Edgbaston in 2001.

North’s stand of 103 with Haddin had all but ended any hopes England had of winning the match as the home side endured a wicketless session.

North’s two off James Anderson took the left-hander to a century in 206 balls with 12 fours.

Significantly, it was also Australia’s third century of the innings — England hadn’t managed one — and there was still time before lunch for Haddin to complete a 90-ball half-century against a rarely threatening England attack.

Australia resumed on 479 for five, a lead of 44 after centuries from captain Ricky Ponting (150) and opener Simon Katich (122).

Michael Clarke had fallen short with 83 before being dismissed just before stumps on Friday.

North, who has played for five English counties, was 54 not and Haddin 4 not out after bad light cut short Friday’s play.

Haddin set the tone yesterday by cover-driving Broad for four. Anderson too struggled to impose himself and North’s pulled four off the Lancashire seamer took Australia past the 500 mark.

All the while, Anderson and Broad were failing to break through, the clamor for Stephen Harmison to be recalled grew.

Harmison, England’s fastest bowler, had been dropped in the Caribbean earlier this year, but did take six wickets for the England Lions last week.

Even when Andrew Flintoff came on, to the delight of the crowd, the all-rounder was elegantly driven down the ground for four by Haddin.

England spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann did cause a few problems, but neither they nor the new ball could separate Australia’s sixth-wicket duo.

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