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November 28, 2006 2:00 am
England's 277-run defeat in the first Ashes Test has raised questions about the balance of their bowling attack ahead of Friday's second game at Adelaide, a venue that traditionally favours the batsmen and is expected to be no different this time, writes James Halliday in Brisbane.
The calls, inevitably, will be for the return of the Northamptonshire left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, who was omitted here in favour of Ashley Giles because of his inferior batting and fielding. But if Brisbane has taught England anything it is that 20 wickets are more important than 20 runs.
Should Panesar return, however, it could be in place of James Anderson, who took 1-195 in 38 erratic overs here and was incapable of putting Australia's batsmen under sustained pressure. That would mean taking the field at Adelaide with two spinners, a tactic that was being mooted even before England landed in Australia.
But, more crucially, they will need to discover a formula for reawakening the devil inside Steve Harmison, who has admitted that nerves got the better of him when his first ball of the match went straight to second slip. There were moments later in the game to suggest that all is not lost, but without well-directed hostility from their main strike bowler, England are unlikely to frighten the Australians on one of world cricket's least forgiving surfaces.
England must also stress the importance of application from their batsmen, especially in the tone-setting first innings. Andrew Strauss twice fell to misguided pull shots, while the captain Andrew Flintoff was caught at long-on on Sunday and was yesterday fending off questions from the local media about the pressures of captaincy.
In that respect the fourth-wicket stand of 153 between Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen in the second innings helped erase some of the less palatable memories of the first three days. It might just have given England the self-belief they will need to make a series of it, even if the manner in which they submitted in the first 90 minutes of play on the final day reflected the continuing fragility of their tail.
Pietersen clipped Brett Lee's fourth ball of the day straight to short midwicket to depart for 92, before Geraint Jones was bowled off an inside edge by Glenn McGrath for 33. After that, the conclusion came swiftly as Stuart Clark cleaned up the lower order to finish with seven wickets in the match.
Giles nicked a regulation Clark delivery to Warne at first slip for a gutsy 23, Matthew Hoggard drove flat-footedly to depart the same way for eight, before Harmison top-edged a pull to McGrath at long-leg for 13. England's total of 370 was streets ahead of their first innings. But they will need to improve again at Adelaide to prevent the hosts taking a 2-0 lead in this five-match series.
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson will not have recovered from a hamstring injury in time to play in the second Test, Cricket Australia announced. The 25-year-old was replaced by batsman Michael Clarke for the first Test.
In Karachi, Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf set a record by scoring his eighth Test hundred of the year on the first day of the third Test against West Indies. Yousuf, who hit 102, broke the record of seven hundreds in a calendar year jointly held by West Indian Vivian Richards and Sri Lanka's Aravinda de Silva. Yousuf also closed in on Richards' 30-year-old record of most Test runs in a calendar year. The West Indian made 1,710 runs in 11 matches and Yousuf needs another 47 in the second innings to pass that mark. Pakistan, who are 1-0 up in the three-match series, had reached 257-7 at close of play.
*FOOTBALL Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, 33, was named European Footballer of the Year. The central defender took the award ahead of his compatriot goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, while Arsenal's French striker Thierry Henry was third. Ronaldinho, the Barcelona and Brazil foward who won the award last year, was fourth.
Meanwhile, Fifa president Sepp Blatter has all but ruled out the introduction of video replays, saying he would never allow matches to be halted as long as he remained head of the sport's world governing body. Speaking at the Soccerex conference in Dubai, Blatter said instant goal-line technology could be used within a year - either by means of a ball with a microchip or a camera linked to a computer - but he would never permit other controversial decisions to be analysed the same way.
Revealing that goal-line technology would be ready for introduction at the Club World Championship in Tokyo in December 2007, Blatter added: ''I am only talking about goal-line technology here. We have to help referees and have correct control but we must never stop the match with videos or monitors to look at what has happened.''
Blatter's remarks will be a blow to the Premier League, which is lobbying Fifa to consider using video technology, supported by a large majority of top-flight managers following a spate of contentious refereeing decisions.
The Fifa president also repeated his call for Europe's richest clubs to stop buying up all the top talent and urged them to leave the field open for less affluent rivals. Fifa is pressing ahead with a proposal to implement a so-called ''6 plus 5'' system whereby half of a club's starting eleven must be home-grown.
G-14, the lobbying group for leading European clubs that has been a thorn in Fifa's side, was sharply criticised by one of its founder members. Bayern Munich is considering pulling out of the group, doubting whether it is achieving anything for its members or for the game as a whole. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern chairman, said clubs from Spain, Italy and England were looking out only for themselves in a sport ruled by "selfishness". He told Kicker magazine: "We will consider whether it makes any sense to stay on in the G-14. We don't feel like paying an annual subscription for just sitting around and talking about things when nothing comes out of it."
Carlos Tevez has apologised to West Ham for storming out of Upton Park in response to his substitution during the 1-0 victory over Sheffield United at the weekend. Manager Alan Pardew has accepted the apology and will allow the Argentine striker's team-mates to decide on the size of his fine.
West Ham will be without the services of Welsh international defender Danny Gabbidon for four weeks because of a hamstring injury sustained during the same match.
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