Sat, Aug 08, 2009 - Page 20 News List

‘Swinger’ Clark spurs England collapse

REUTERS , LEEDS, ENGLAND

Australia’s Stuart Clark, second left, celebrates with teammates Mike Hussey, right, and Marcus North, second right, after taking the wicket of England’s Paul Collingwood for a duck on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test match at Headingley in Leeds, England, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Fast bowler Stuart Clark spurred Australia to make the perfect start in their bid to level the Ashes series when England collapsed to 72 for six at lunch on the first day of the fourth Test at Headingley in Leeds yesterday.

England captain Andrew Strauss won the toss, but he lasted only 17 balls himself and Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad also failed to survive in testing conditions against a swinging ball.

Clark tormented the hosts as he ripped through England’s batting order by claiming three wickets for seven off 6.5 overs.

Matt Prior was unbeaten on 17 at the interval.

England’s preparations were hit by a series of mishaps starting at 4am when the players were evacuated from their hotel because of a fire alarm.

Inspirational all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was ruled out of the match with his knee injury and when Prior suffered a back spasm playing soccer in the warm up, the situation looked dire.

Prior responded to treatment, however, and was named in the side along with fast bowler Steve Harmison, who replaced Flintoff.

Australia recalled fit-again wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and opted for a four-man seam attack, including pace man Clark in place of spinner Nathan Hauritz.

Strauss survived a huge shout for leg before wicket to the first ball of the match from Ben Hilfenhaus, but, on 3, he edged Peter Siddle to third slip and Marcus North took a brilliant one-handed catch.

Bopara made 1 before he tamely prodded Hilfenhaus to Michael Hussey at gully and Bell, on 8, failed to avoid a short ball from Mitchell Johnson and gave Haddin a simple catch.

The situation called for one of Collingwood’s trademark gritty knocks, but he edged a vintage Stuart Clark outswinger straight to Ricky Ponting at second slip for a duck.

Cook battled to 30, but his resistance ended just before lunch when he edged Clark to Michael Clarke at first slip.

Prior was fortunate to see a few loose drives flash through or over the slip cordon, but Broad was caught at short mid-wicket by Simon Katich off Clark for 3.

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