Reiffel again blasts England
SEAMER Paul Reiffel gave England's batsmen a a tough time for the second successive match as Australia reinforced their Ashes advantage on the first day of the fifth Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham yesterday.
Reiffel, who took eight wickets in his side's innings victory at Headingley in Leeds last month, added five more victims to his collection as England finished the day on 276 for nine.
New English skipper Mike Atherton hit 72 and recalled off-spinner John Emburey, 41 years old later this month, contributed a gritty unbeaten 55 but the home side failed to take full advantage after winning a crucial toss.
The dry wicket turned sharply virtually from the start, and looks unlikely to produce a high-scoring match.
Yet it was Reiffel, rather than spinners Shane Warne and Tim May, who proved the dominant bowler, making a mockery of his poor form earlier in the tour.
By tea, he had taken three wickets, including England captains past and present Graham Gooch and Atherton, as the home side lurched to 194 for six.
Atherton top-scored with 72 before being bowled by a delivery from Reiffel which kept low, but apart from the skipper. only Surrey pair Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe looked comfortable for any length of time.
Stewart, who lost out to Atherton in the race for the England captaincy last week, made 45 and the left-handed Thorpe was unbeaten on 26 at tea.
England, 3-0 down in the six-Test series, would have expected a much happier day when Atherton won the toss and opted for first use of a dry wicket.
But Gooch departed early for eight, caught at slip by Mark Waugh, who then deceived Robin Smith with an off-cutter which bowled the Hampshire batsman for 21.
The recalled Matthew Maynard went for a duck to off-spinner May.
Reiffel removed Atherton and bowled Nasser Hussain for three, and Emburey was lucky to remain, surviving a hard chance to Mark Taylor at slip off leg-spinner Warne shortly before tea. He was on seven.
Emburey made Australia pay, batting out the final session to finish unbeaten on 55.