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The Electronic Telegraph British Universities v New Zealanders, New Zealand in England, 1999
The Electronic Telegraph - 20-23 June 1999

Day1:Vettori returns with a five-wicket haul

Christopher Lyles

First day of three: New Zealanders (56-1) trail British Universities (231) by 175 runs

After the disappointment of losing to Pakistan in the World Cup semi-final last Wednesday, the touring New Zealanders yesterday eased themselves into their truncated first-class programme with a competent bowling display in which 20-year-old Daniel Vettori stood out.

The bespectacled left-arm spinner, who has reached 50 Test wickets more quickly than any other New Zealand bowler, failed to make an appearance in the World Cup but he can expect a lot of work in the next two months.

Against a combined team including six members of the Durham side who won the recent BUSA final, he was called into the attack as early as the 10th over and rapidly settled into an accurate groove on a benign pitch. Unafraid to give the ball some air, he finished with excellent figures of five for 80.

Elliott Wilson, the sometime Worcestershire batsman, played the major hand for the Universities, scoring a career best 85 before being last out.

In response, Matthew Horne and Matthew Bell put on 52 for the first wicket before Bell edged Tom Hicks to slip.

Day 2: Fleming profits from slip

Christopher Lyles

Second day of three: New Zealanders (513-6) lead British Universities (231) by 282 runs

With only one first-class match - at Taunton on Friday - to play before the first Test at Edgbaston on July 1, batting practice was the name of the game for the New Zealanders yesterday, and they took full advantage against a limited Universities attack.

Matthew Horne and Stephen Fleming both helped themselves to centuries as they shared a second-wicket partnership of 245 in 54 overs, and Nathan Astle later joined the hundred club before holing out to deep-square leg in the final over.

Fleming, who scored his runs from only 159 deliveries, played the innings of the day, and made the most of being dropped by his compatriot, Greg Loveridge, at second slip, when he had made just 13. Thereafter, he played imperiously, and took especially heavy toll of Loveridge through the mid-wicket and extra cover areas. All in all, the missed catch proved to be an expensive error for the leg spinner.

Horne, who experienced a modest World Cup, initially found timing to be a more elusive quality and took 120 balls to reach his half-century. But his confidence visibly grew as he began to clip the ball off his legs with growing self-belief and he required only another 55 deliveries to reach three figures.

For Craig McMillan, alas, yesterday could prove to be the definitive day of his tour. Should Matthew Bell open with Horne in the Tests, it is likely that McMillan and Astle will be competing for one place in the middle order, and they suffered contrasting fortunes after the students had dislodged Fleming and Horne in the space of seven balls.

McMillan was disappointingly out of sorts in the World Cup, and he managed only a single yesterday before his defences were breached by Ben Hutton. Astle, on the other hand, batted with some aplomb against a wilting attack.

Right-arm seamer Simon Francis, one of six Durham players in the combined side, maintained a probing line on and around off stump and deserved more than one wicket. And Oxford student Tom Hicks, who missed the morning session due to examination commitments, again bowled his off-spinners to promising effect.

Day 3: Rixon's objectives achieved

Christopher Lyles

New Zealanders (513-6 dec) bt British Universities (231 & 238) by an innings and 44 runs

The New Zealanders travel to Taunton today for their final game before the first Test in good heart after achieving the objectives put forward by Steve Rixon, their Australian coach.

``The match against the combined universities had a threefold purpose for us; to restrict their first innings by bowling well on a flat deck, to fill our boots when we batted, and to win the game,'' he said yesterday.

Having already completed the first two parts of the equation, his charges duly accomplished the third when Dion Nash finished off the universities by clean bowling James Lawrence and Simon Francis with successive deliveries, although not before a determined rearguard action from the students had carried the game into the final hour.

For that they had reason to be grateful to their left-handed captain, Quentin Hughes, who resisted for more than three hours before being eighth out when he was trapped in front. Tim Roberts and Elliott Wilson both batted impressively for the second time in the match, but the player with most cause for regret was Greg Loveridge, who played one Test match for New Zealand in 1996.

After struggling with the ball on the second day, the leg spinner yesterday attempted to steal a quick single in the over before lunch, and failed to beat Nash's direct hit from mid-off.

Rixon will have reason to be pleased with his side's batting performance, although the poor form of Craig McMillan, who averages almost 49 in his burgeoning Test career, remains a worry. As far as the bowling is concerned, Daniel Vettori quickly rediscovered his rhythm after being inactive throughout the World Cup, while Nash built up a real head of steam.

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