CricInfo News

CricInfo Home
News Home

Rsa in Pak
NZ in India
Zim in Aus

Other Series

This month
This year
All years

The Electronic Telegraph ODI4: England v New Zealand, Match Report
Christopher Martin-Jenkins - 02 March 1997

Assignment is incomplete for Atherton

A Fourth one-day international, postponed after rain on Saturday and chiefly notable for some parlous batting by both sides on a slow, damp and rather uneven umber-coloured pitch, was won by New Zealand by nine runs. They needed the win more and England, hav- ing bowled well once Robert Croft joined the attack, rather hand- ed it to them by some cavalier batting at the start of their in- nings. They thought it would be easy to score 154 from 43 overs in a match shortened by rain, but it was not.

They were set back, too, by their very first ball, which produced the only serious injury of a 14-week tour. Nick Knight played back to Heath Davis's first ball, which lifted quickly to trap his left index finger against the handle of his bat. An X-ray re- vealed three breaks and surgery was due to be carried out on the finger in Auckland last night. England's physiotherapist, Wayne Morton, said it could be six to eight weeks before he could play again.

If ever there is a good time to be injured in cricket, this was it, but Knight will not want to miss the start of the first-class season Warwickshire play Glamorgan in the first round of the Championship on April 23 - if he can possibly help it. He will travel home with the rest of the team when they return here from Wellington to pick up their international flight on Wednesday evening.

All credit to New Zealand's bowlers, both the youthful quick ones, Davis and Geoff Allott, and the grizzled medium-pacers, Gavin Larsen and Chris Harris, for luring England into trouble. Mike Atherton cut to cover, Graham Thorpe turned a catch off his hips to square-leg, Nasser Hussain was bowled off an inside edge by a ball which cut back and Ronnie Irani was expertly caught at slip first ball. It was, however, Nathan Astle, having once again led the way with the bat, who took the most important wicket when Alec Stewart tried to pull him and missed.

With Knight out of the fray, except as a last-wicket runner, Eng- land were then 91 for six in effect and having abandoned their original policy (they are great ones for abandoning policies) of playing mainly specialist batsmen and bowlers in these games, they were short of a batsman already. John Crawley had been omit- ted again to allow Craig White and Irani to play, and although Crawley will now play in Knight's stead, poor Jack Russell's chance of a match has no doubt gone with this defeat.

In fact, England got closer than they might have done. White's 32 took him no fewer than 89 balls, although initially he was trying only to repair the early damage. With Stewart gone, he worked out too late that the way to deal with Harris was to hit him over the top of Lee Germon's mainly one-saving fielders. He managed it twice but then lifted a catch to extra cover. Croft, however, middled the ball better than anyone to make 20 from 33 balls be- fore Astle ran him out with a swift return as he came back for a second to long-on.

Larsen dismissed Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick in the same over, the 40th, but Knight came out to join Chris Silverwood and faced one more ball from Larsen one-handed. It hit him on the pad, he survived the appeal and the young Yorkshireman then hit with much spirit and a good eye to give the lingering few among the English supporting contingent belated hope. There were still 10 to make from as many balls, however, when Silverwood drove high to long-off and Alott clung on to a fine catch at full tilt just inside the rope.

Given a spritely pitch in the early stages, neither Silverwood nor Caddick bowled straight enough. Although Gough sharpened things up a bit, it was actually White who bowled best among the quicker bowlers. Irani was rather more the recipient of New Zea- land charity after Croft, turning the ball, had got them into a terrible tizzy with yet another influential spell.

England's defeat at this stage of the tour was not a matter of great importance and they remain dormie one going to the last match at the Basin Reserve in Wellington tomorrow. Still, Ather- ton and Thorpe, in particular, batted like men who believed that the job was already completed.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk