England face impossible task to avert the follow-on
ENGLAND endured another bleak day in their dismal Ashes summer as their batting collapsed to medium pacer Paul Reiffel in the fourth Test at Headingley yesterday.
Reiffel, not selected for any of the three previous Tests, grabbed five for 65 as England slid to 195 for seven by the close in reply to Australia's first innings total of 653 for four declared.
Australian captain Allan Border completed an unbeaten double century, but England's hopes of similar batting riches were quickly dashed.
Apart from captain Graham Gooch and Mike Atherton, none of their top seven batsmen reached 24 as Reiffel enjoyed by far the best day of his Test career.
Playing his first Test in England, the Victorian seamer had only taken seven previous Test wickets in four appearances for his country.
But almost from the moment Border tossed him the ball, he looked more likely to take wickets than any of the English seam quartet during the first two days.
Mark Lathwell was first to go, when he edged the third ball of the innings to wicket-keeper Ian Healy off the bowling of Merv Hughes.
In the same over, Robin Smith hit Hughes for two boundaries and then Atherton hit Reiffel's first ball for four.
But Smith was out for 23 when he hit a ball from off-spinner Tim May straight back to the bowler and was caught.
Alec Stewart added five runs before he prodded a catch to Michael Slater at silly point to become Reiffel's first victim.
Atherton and Gooch then put together a century partnership and moved the score on to 158 before Reiffel made the breakthrough with three more wickets in seven balls.
Atherton did not play a stroke to a ball that crept back and hit the stumps. Three balls later Thorpe edged a ball to Healy and departed without scoring.
In Reiffel's next over, he made the ball cut in and rapped Gooch on the pads and the England captain was the sixth batsman to fall.
Nasser Hussain added 15 before Reiffel captured his wicket, the batsman getting an inside edge on to the stumps.
At the close, Andrew Caddick was not out nine and Martin Bicknell had scored seven.
Needing 454 to avoid the follow-on, England seem to be heading for a 3-0 deficit with only two matches to go. The Ashes remain firmly in the grip of the Australians.
Earlier, Australia, resuming at 613 for four, added a further 40 runs through their fifth-wicket pair, Allan Border and Steve Waugh, who boosted their partnership to 332.
Border scored a further 25 to complete his second Test double hundred, batting in all for nine and a half hours, facing 399 balls and hitting 26 fours. Waugh finished 157 not out from 305 balls with 19 boundaries.
Australian fast bowling great Dennis Lillee backed England to win the Headingley Test at odds of 500-1 yesterday, just as he was reported to have done 12 years ago.
Then Lillee is thought to have staked 10 pounds on the home team, causing an uproar, as he was playing in the match which England won after following on.
He doubled his stake this time, but hedged his bets by putting money on Australia as well at 7-4.
Botham bows to body of evidence: Page 14