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Mon 13 Jul 2009 07:06 AM

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England snatch brave draw in first Ashes test

Bowlers James Anderson and Monty Panesar are unlikely batting heroes in Cardiff draw.

England snatch brave draw in first Ashes test
BATTING HERO: James Anderson celebrates after saving the match for England. (AFP)

James Anderson and Monty Panesar staged one of cricket's great escapes as England clung on for a dramatic draw in the first Ashes Test at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Sunday.

England's last-wicket duo batted together for 40 minutes to deny Ashes holders Australia what seemed a certain victory.

The left-handers' stand of 19 spanned 69 balls after England had been in desperate trouble when Paul Collingwood was out for 74 after a gutsy innings lasting nearly five-and-three-quarter hours.

Collingwood's exit left England on 233 for nine.

But the 10th-wicket duo held firm as England ended the match on 252 for nine with Anderson 21 not out and Panesar unbeaten on seven.

The teams now head to Lord's, where Australia have not lost a Test since 1934, for the second match in this five-Test series starting on Thursday.

"It is huge for us," said Anderson, who batted for 72 minutes.

"To go to Lord's in a couple of days now still level in the series is a massive boost us."

Panesar praised "cricket buddy" Collingwood for helping him with his batting.

"He's been throwing me balls and working really hard with me on my batting and it has paid off today."

England captain Andrew Strauss said: "All credit must go to Paul Collingwood - he was outstanding.

"Also we have to mention Jimmy and Monty. The batsmen shouldn't have let them get in that position, but they showed a lot of character."

Meanwhile, Australia captain Ricky Ponting, named man-of-the-match for his 150 in an innings of 674 for six declared, was left with thoughts of what might have been.

"I am disappointed we didn't win the game, I thought we played well enough over the five days," he said.

"But I am still really proud of the boys. We can take a lot of heart out of the game although we came up a bit short in the end."

Apart from Collingwood, no other top-order batsman made more in the second innings than Strauss's 17.

And when Collingwood was eventually out, caught at the second attempt in the gully by Michael Hussey off fast bowler Peter Siddle, having faced 245 balls with six boundaries, it seemed England had lost all hope of avoiding a convincing defeat.

There were a minimum of 11.3 overs remaining when Anderson and Panesar came together.

But they demonstrated a defensive technique worthy of top-order batsmen although England angered Australia by sending on physiotherapist Steve McCaig and 12th man Bilal Shafayat in what appeared to be a blatant attempt at time-wasting.

Each ball Anderson and Panesar survived was cheered to the echo by the crowd in what was the first Test match ever played in Wales.

And when Anderson steered Siddle through the slips for four it meant Australia would have to bat again to win the match.

England had let the game get away while making 435 in a first innings where three batsmen, Collingwood included, got past fifty but did not get a hundred.

By contrast, Australia scored four hundreds in the same Test innings against England for the first time with Ponting, Marcus North (125 not out), Simon Katich (122) and Brad Haddin (121) all reaching three figures.

Australia's progress was first checked Sunday by a determined eighth-wicket stand of 62 lasting 81 minutes between Collingwood and Graeme Swann.

But when Swann - who made 47 not out in the first innings - was plumb lbw to Ben Hilfenhaus for 31, England were 221 for eight and the game seemingly over.

The sight of Australia spearhead and left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson bowling wides with the new ball gave England fans hope that the draw, which had seemed for beyond their side's reach at 70 for five, was coming into view.

England, at lunch, had been 102 for five.

Collingwood's promising stand of 57 with Andrew Flintoff ended when England's 2005 Ashes hero opened the face of his bat against Johnson and was caught low down at second slip by Ponting.

Earlier, star batsman Kevin Pietersen had taken his overnight score from three to eight when, trying to leave a delivery from Hilfenhaus, he got into an awkward position and was bowled off-stump.

Off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, a ball after being cut for four by Strauss, got a delivery to turn and bounce away from the left-hander who edged behind as he attempted another cut and was well caught by wicket-keeper Haddin for 17.

England, already in trouble on their overnight score of 20 for two, were now, at 46 for for four in dire straits only for the most unlikely batting heroes to deny Australia victory.

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