Greatest Test Team Final: Australia 2002 bat out for draw as series remains tied at 1-1 after three Tests
The third Test of the Greatest Test team final ended in a draw with neither the 1948 Australians nor their 2002 counterparts able to secure the victory which would have given them the lead in the five-match series.
Don Bradman won the toss and chose to bat and he would have been pleased with his team’s start, reaching 110-1 with Sid Barnes completing a half-century.
Steve Waugh then decided to give himself an over, and he struck gold as he forced his opposition captain Bradman to drag on a short delivery from outside off stump.
Barnes fell for 92 in the second over after tea, before a brace of wickets for Jason Gillespie left the 1948 side 276-6 at the end of the first day’s play.
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Steve Waugh took the new ball early on the second day, but Neil Harvey found an adept partner in Ray Lindwall and they added 76 for the seventh wicket. Shane Warne eventually made the breakthrough, which eventually brought about the loss of the last four wickets for just 15 runs.
Replying to 336, the 2002 team’s openers fell early, and it was left to Ricky Ponting and Mark Waugh to resurrect the innings. However, both fell in the thirties, and when Steve Waugh joined them back in the hutch for 21, the second day ended with the side tottering at 146-5.
Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist made it through to lunch on the third day relatively untroubled, but Martyn unluckily hit his wicket when slipping while trying to cut the leg-spin of Doug Ring.
Gilchrist was galvanised after reaching his fifty, but eventually fell for 91, run out after a mix-up with Warne. Warne then struck out to great effect, hitting 14 from one Miller over to end unbeaten on 60 and lead the 2002 side to a final total of 371, a useful first-innings lead of 35.
The 1948 side were circumspect in their second innings, batting out the remainder day three to reach 32-0 from 15 overs. Bradman batted fluently on day four with his partner Lindsay Hassett more cautious as both reached contrasting half-centuries, from 87 and 136 balls respectively.
Gillespie removed Bradman for 50 and Miller soon followed for 18 but Hassett carried on relatively untroubled and was joined by Neil Harvey, who also set his stall out to bat long and take the game out of the 2002 team’s reach.
Hassett fell for 95 just before the close of the fourth day’s play and soon after Harvey was dismissed by McGrath early on the final day, Bradman declared, setting the 2002 Australians a token 307 runs to win, or more realistically, 60 overs to bat out the day.
Openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden set off positively, adding 85 at nearly four runs per over, before Bill Johnston trapped Langer lbw for 32. Ricky Ponting and the Waugh twins fell relatively cheaply but Hayden carried on, eventually falling to Ring at the start of the final 15 overs.
Martyn soon fell for just seven, leaving his side six wickets down with 16 overs to go, but the reassuring presence of Adam Gilchrist ensured safety for his side, who ended on 235-7.
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