Sydney: Australia were facing the prospect of their first defeat at home in more than four years after a late batting collapse left England in control of the fifth Ashes Test on Sunday.
Chasing a near-impossible 452 to complete a historic 5-0 series whitewash following Michael Vaughan’s masterful 183, Australia crumbled to 25 for three before closing on 91 without further loss after the fourth day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Pace bowler Andy Caddick trapped Justin Langer for three and Ricky Ponting for 11 while Matthew Hoggard sent a furious Matthew Hayden on his way when he struck him on the pads for two.
Langer was the victim of a terrible umpiring decision, while Hayden also looked unlucky as Australian frustration began to boil over.
Television footage showed a glass panel outside the team room shattered shortly after Hayden’s dismissal. It was later learnt that the door had indeed been smashed by Hayden who was fined Aus $2,200. Teammate Adam Gilchrist was warned for swearing.
The broad-shouldered opener was fined 20 per cent of his match fee and given a severe reprimand after a hearing with Match Referee Wasim Raja.
“Matthew Hayden admitted the offence and apologised for his action,” Raja said, adding he had not imposed a maximum penalty of a 50 per cent fine because of Hayden’s “previously clean record”.
Australia coach John Buchanan defended Hayden: “The doors were closed and he just tried to get through the door. There was no bat throwing or anything like that.”
Gilchrist escaped a fine but was also issued with a serious reprimand after he admitted swearing after an appeal for a catch off English tailender Steve Harmison was turned down.
Australia have not lost a Test at home since their 12-run defeat to England at Melbourne in December 1998, again after the series had been decided.
Vaughan left the SCG to a standing ovation after another magnificent display over six-and-a-half hours that featured 27 fours and a six off 279 balls.
The Yorkshire opener had begun the day on 113, completing his third hundred of the series the previous day, and continued to plunder runs from an Australian attack badly missing the potency of injured strike bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
He shared a 189-run partnership with Nasser Hussain for the third wicket before his captain was dismissed for 72, caught behind off the last ball before lunch.
Vaughan, also the victim of a dubious umpiring decision when given out leg before to Bichel, finished the series with 663 runs at an average of 63.30, including earlier scores of 177 and 145.
A cautious Hussain, perhaps more concerned about avoiding a whitewash than winning the game, resisted the temptation to make an early declaration even though no team has ever made more than 276 to win a Test batting last in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Gillespie will miss Australia’s ODI against Sri Lanka next Thursday after injuring his left elbow against England on Sunday but will bat in the Test if needed. The lanky paceman fell awkwardly after slipping on the follow-through, forcing him to leave the field.
Buchanan said later X-rays had cleared Gillespie of any breaks but there was some ligament damage.
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