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England v New Zealand, 1st Test
Edgbaston, Birmingham: 1 - 3 July 1999
Reports by John Ward and Rick Eyre for CricInfo

Preview: Test cricket is back!

by Rick Eyre

It's been 65 days since Australia defeated the West Indies at St John's, Antigua. That is how long it has been since the last Test match played anywhere in the world. Since then, of course, that great quadrennial event, the World Cup, has pre-occupied the cricketing world. Now that the limited- over world championship has been run and won by Australia, the full-length, five-day form of the game - still preferred by a sizable portion of the cricketing public - returns to the spotlight.

Today, England face New Zealand at Edgbaston, Birmingham for the opening day of the first of four Tests.

England go into this Test with a new captain in Nasser Hussain and two new faces, batsman Aftab Habib and wicketkeeper Chris Read. At 20 years and 325 days, Read is the youngest wicketkeeper in English Test history. Phil Tufnell seems likely to play as England's sole spinner, meaning that two pacemen will be left out of the squad of fifteen, probably Chris Silverwood.

New Zealand will go into this match with stocks high after a semi-final berth in the World Cup and a remarkable rearguard win against a depleted Somerset side on Monday. Though the batting lineup has plenty of talent and experience, the bowling attack is less dependable, and Simon Doull does not seem to the bowler he was when he troubled India in the new year. Like England, they are expected to go into the match with one left-arm spinner, namely Daniel Vettori.

The Test sets a new milestone in live television coverage as the first such match in England not to be televised by the BBC. Sky Sports will televise this Test, with the remainder in this series to be screened by Channel Four.

Teams: England: Alec Stewart, Mark Butcher, Nasser Hussain (capt), Graham Thorpe, Mark Ramprakash, Aftab Habib, Chris Read (wk), Dean Headley, Alan Mullally, Alex Tudor, Phil Tufnell, Chris Silverwood, Andy Caddick. (Two to be omitted.) New Zealand (likely eleven): Matthew Horne, Roger Twose, Stephen Fleming (capt), Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Chris Cairns, Adam Parore (wk), Dion Nash, Daniel Vettori, Simon Doull, Geoff Allott.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor and Peter Willey. Video: Ray Julian. Match Referee: Peter van der Merwe.

Day 1: Caddick, Tufnell put England on top

by John Ward

New Zealand are all out for 226 at the end of the first day of the First Test against England at Edgbaston. England's innings will begin at the start of play Friday.

Nasser Hussain was perhaps a little relieved to lose the toss on his debut as England captain, as it saved him from having to make a difficult decision. The pitch looked good for runs, with predictions saying it should offer bounce to the pace bowlers and take some spin later in the match. Weather conditions, though, looked in favour of the bowling side with a heavy cloud cover and some humidity. At the press conference at the close of play, chairman of selectors David Graveney said that the plan had originally been to bat should England win the toss, but the cloudy weather caused them to think hard.

Instead, it was Stephen Fleming who had to make the choice, and he decided to bat. A bold decision, one critic stated, with perhaps less of his tongue in his cheek than Sir Humphrey Appleby might have had in similar circumstances. He probably regretted it almost immediately, with Roger Twose departing in the first over, requiring Fleming to come in himself under testing circumstances.

Twose was probably a victim of indecision, prodding half-heartedly to a ball from Alan Mullally directed in exactly the right channel, just outside off stump but not enough to leave safely, and swinging away slightly. He edged the catch low down to Graham Thorpe at first slip, and England were a wicket down without a run on the board.

Andy Caddick did not have a good first over on his return to Test cricket: setting a 7-2 off-side field, he strayed too much on to the line of the leg stump, enabling Matt Horne to put him away on the leg side for two and one, while Fleming got off the mark by clipping a neat four through the vacant midwicket position.

After that, though, both bowlers made the batsmen work hard for every run, and it was a long time before another boundary came, when Horne leg-glanced Mullally to the boundary. Horne did not last much longer, being given out lbw to Caddick by umpire Peter Willey; the ball kept a little low, but hit him just about in line with the off stump, with bat firmly behind pad and the ball heading directly for the stumps. Horne made 12, and New Zealand were 19 for two.

There was another lbw appeal next ball, against Nathan Astle, but the ball appeared to be going down leg side. With good bowling and slightly uneven bounce, both batsmen faced a real test of concentration, technique and temperament.

After seven fine overs for 14 runs, Mullally gave way to Alex Tudor, faster but less accurate and less able to exploit the conditions than his two fellow pacemen. Fleming took two boundaries off his first over, glancing a ball to long leg and then driving him through extra cover. Shortly afterwards he drove Caddick cleanly past mid-on to the boundary, but the bowler rose to the challenge, testing him with some fine deliveries and beating him outside the off stump.

Tudor continued to prove comparatively expensive, and the fifty came up for New Zealand at the end of the 19th over, as Fleming turned Tudor to the midwicket boundary. Tudor, though, made the vital breakthrough, moving a ball across Fleming; the New Zealand captain did his best to get behind the line and play it down, but it was too good for him, flying off the edge to give Thorpe his second catch of the morning at first slip. Fleming made 27, including six fours, off 59 balls, and New Zealand were 55 for three. At this stage the advantage quite clearly lay with England, and New Zealand were faced with an uphill struggle to reach a competitive score.

Craig McMillan almost immediately faced a fine ball from Tudor, which moved back sharply off the pitch and beat him. Encouraged by his wicket, the young pace bowler then gave Astle some fierce deliveries, including a blow in the ribs. In his next over Astle tried to retaliate with a hook, but found the ball too quick for the shot.

Butcher at the other end quickly settled down, moving the ball predominantly away from the batsmen and keeping the scoring rate down. Meanwhile the fourth specialist bowler, Phil Tufnell, was awaiting his turn at mid-on or third man/fine leg and getting applause from the crowd whenever he fielded the ball.

Butcher beat McMillan, coming very close to having him lbw, and then beating him off the pitch with a ball that moved away. The batsman fought back with a fine on-driven boundary, but then edged the next ball just short of third slip Hussain. Butcher appeared to lose his accuracy, giving Astle enough room to crack him for two handsome off-side boundaries in an over. Perhaps this lulled the batsman into a false sense of security, as he the flashed outside the off stump to present Read with his first Test catch; it was also Butcher's first Test wicket.. Astle scored 26, and New Zealand were 73 for four.

The ground remained just under half full, enough to give some atmosphere, but indicative of the fact that New Zealand are hardly the most charismatic of opponents, especially after the World Cup extravaganza. Still, there was a great deal of challenging cricket in the first session, and England will be pleased with the form shown by their pace bowlers. They will be hoping they can do as well against stronger opponents and in less favourable conditions.

Caddick and Mullally opened the attack for England after lunch, and the latter nearly accounted for Cairns, who dabbed half-heartedly at a head-high ball outside the off stump; a full-blooded slash would almost certainly have brought a four, but in this case he was lucky to be dropped in the slips off a high but not a fast-moving chance. Having taken a single off the rebound to reach the other end, Cairns then drove a full toss firmly back to Caddick, only for it to hit the bowler on the wrist and knee without looking like sticking. At this stage both batting and fielding looked completely incompetent. Mullally then beat Cairns with a fierce lifter which he only just avoided with his bat or gloves on its way through to the keeper. The batsmen were clearly most uncomfortable, but finding unexpected allies in the fielders.

McMillan finally broke the shackles by stepping back to a short ball from Mullally and punching it over extra cover to the boundary. Cairns also reached the boundary, although less intentionally, as a ball from Caddick flew off a defensive outside edge between third slip and gully. Later in the over he hit another four in the same place, but with a more intentional stroke. He began to look more comfortable as he hit Mullally for three through extra cover to take New Zealand to 99, before McMillan turned the next ball behind the square leg umpire for two to bring up three figures. However, appearances were deceptive, as a lifter from Caddick hit Cairns on the gloves and lobbed high into the air, leaving the bowler plenty of time to run forward and make it into a caught-and-bowled. New Zealand were now 103 for five, with Cairns out for 17.

Mullally could well rue his luck, as several times he beat both batsmen outside the off stump, but without finding the vital edge. Caddick probably owed much to the pressure on the other end, as he then removed New Zealand's last remaining specialist batsman, McMillan, with a fine low catch by Thorpe, his third of the day now, at first slip. New Zealand sank further into trouble, at 104 for six, with McMillan out for 18.

The batsmen continued to struggle against fine England bowling in helpful conditions, with Parore just managing to fend off a lifting ball short of the gully. The policy now was clearly one of tight defence, leave everything you can and score off the loose balls. Unfortunately there were few loose balls, even from Tudor, who replaced Mullally. Parore enjoyed a stroke of fortune when he snicked Tudor into the slips, but Stewart went the wrong way and missed a low chance altogether. It later transpired that he had completely lost sight of the ball against the background of the stands and the crowd. Later in the over, Parore cut for a rare boundary.

When Butcher came on again, much later, replacing Caddick after a ten-over spell, Parore immediately cut him for another four, followed by a similar stroke in his next over. But there was a great deal of slow cricket in between the first two, as the batsmen simply hung on to try and see off Mullally and Caddick.

Finally, to great applause from the crowd, on came Tufnell. His first ball had Parore playing back defence rather hurriedly; the second was dispatched for another cut four, which brought up the fifty partnership. When Mullally returned for Butcher, Parore cut again, only just clear of Hussain in the gully. Then, for a change, he drove him through extra cover for three. In Mullally's next over another cut sailed between second slip and gully; the bowling by now appeared to have lost some of its consistency.

Soon after tea, Nash enjoyed a stumping escape when a ball from Tufnell beat both him, as he moved out of his crease, and keeper Read, and he was able to slide his foot back into the crease. It was not an easy chance for Read. Shortly afterwards Parore reached his fifty with a neat leg glance to the boundary off Mullally.

Nash continued to hold his end up, leaving the scoring to Parore, and at one stage Tufnell had bowled 33 deliveries to Nash before conceding a run. Mullally, although still bowling the occasional fine delivery, was not bowling so well, though tiredness, lack of shine or both, and he became more expensive. Finally Nash decided he had had enough of defence; lashing out at Tufnell, his edge was very well taken at slip by the diving Hussain. He had scored 21 of the partnership of 85, and New Zealand were now 189 for seven.

Soon afterwards the England captain repeated his performance, this time at the expense of the left-handed Daniel Vettori, who had looked determined to dig in firmly. But the batsman was tempted to lash out at a temptingly wide ball from Tufnell, and Hussain was ready for it. Vettori scored only a single, and New Zealand were 191 for eight.

A fine pull for four by Parore off Caddick made a difference from his usual cuts. Generally, though, although he appeared to have aggressive intent, he did not find it easy to keep the score moving. Doull played a good stroke to put Tufnell wide of mid-on for three, taking New Zealand past 200, which was followed by a paddle to the fine-leg boundary from Parore.

Doull was showing more aggressive intent than Parore's previous partners, and he lunged at Tufnell, slogging him through midwicket for four to reach double figures. He then hit out again in the same direction, only for Butcher to dive to his right and pull off a brilliant catch. Nash had made 11, and New Zealand were now on 211 for nine.

Geoff Allott, he of the 102-minute Test match duck, came in to join Parore, and appeared set to play this innings in the same mould. However, he managed to push away a half-volley from Caddick through midwicket for two. Against Mullally he edged a single uppishly between third slip and gully. Parore, keen to keep the strike, moved down the pitch to Mullally, but the bowler saw him coming, and dug it on short and tight, preventing him from getting bat to ball.

Parore, rarely attempting a full-blooded attacking stroke, passed 71, his previous highest score in Tests against England. Doubtless England were in two minds about breaking this dogged last-wicket partnership, not wanting an uncomfortable few minutes' batting before the close. Eventually, though, Mullally took the second new ball, but neither he nor Caddick was as dangerous as at the start of the day. Eventually, though, Mullally struck with a ball swinging away outside off stump, as Parore played down the wrong line and edged a regulation catch to the keeper. He had scored 73 and New Zealand were all out for 226. Allott was unbeaten on 7. No doubt to their relief, England were saved from having to bat the same day.

It had been quite a good recovery by New Zealand after being at one stage 104 for six. David Graveney's opinion, stated at the press conference, was that it was a 275-300 wicket, on which England had performed better than average while New Zealand were below par. Hussain, he felt, had handled his side well on his first day as captain.

Brief Scores from Thursday: New Zealand 226 (Twose 0, Horne 12, Fleming 27, Astle 26, McMillan 18, Cairns 17, Parore 73, Nash 21, Vettori 1, Doull 11, Allott 7*, extras 13. Bowling: Mullally 2/72, Caddick 3/57, Tudor 1/44, Butcher 1/25, Tufnell 3/22).

Edgbaston wicketfest.. test in the balance

by John Ward

Don't make your plans for Monday around watching the First Test. Come to think of it, don't make your plans for Sunday around watching the First Test. The clash between England and New Zealand at Edgbaston will almost certainly end Saturday. An incredible day's play Friday saw 21 wickets fall. England were dismissed for 126 in reply to New Zealand's 226. New Zealand came to the crease at tea and were dismissed in the same session for 107. England, needing 208 to win in three and a bit days, were 3 for 1 at the close.

The second morning at Edgbaston was still cloudy, but less heavily than on the previous day. Mark Butcher quickly announced England's reply to New Zealand's total of 226 with a contemptuous pull through midwicket off Geoff Allott's fourth ball. But England's pleasure was not to last long; in Allott's next over Alec Stewart padded up to a ball that he may have thought pitched outside leg stump, and was given out lbw without playing a stroke. He made only a single, and England were 5 for one.

Nasser Hussain was quickly off the mark, turning Allott to the long leg boundary, to considerable applause from the crowd. Butcher continued to look good; he took two to midwicket off Simon Doull, followed by an off-driven four; with a bad ball down the leg side beating the keeper to record four byes, it was an expensive over. Allott proved rather wayward in direction, and his short balls held no terrors for the batsmen, as Hussain also pulled him high and powerfully for four. After five overs, the score was already 25 for one.

At this point, though, the New Zealand bowlers began to get their act together, and runs became much harder to obtain for the batsmen. Both were obtaining movement off the pitch, but not excessively, and only the occasional ball had the batsmen in trouble. Then came a suicidal run-out which seemed to show that the World Cup mentality was still very much dominating their thinking, although even Inzamam-ul-Haq might have been embarrassed by this one. Hussain turned a ball from Doull to backward square leg Matt Horne, while Butcher decided to go for a rather risky single. He had run more than halfway down the pitch when Hussain turned his back on him, and he had no chance of getting back. There did not appear to be much evidence of either a strong call or a strong refusal. England were 26 for two, with Butcher out for 11.

Hussain himself was soon out to a delivery that Shane Warne himself might have been proud of. Doull bowled him a ball that pitched on leg stump, turned him round and beat his back defensive stroke to hit his off stump. He made 10, and England were in some disarray at 28 for three. The New Zealanders for their part were jubilant, right back in the match with a vengeance.

Soon afterwards, Thorpe almost surrendered his wicket to another silly run- out. He took a single to mid-off through a no-ball from Allott, and was almost caught napping as the throw-in hit the stumps as he was sauntering home. But he was not to last much longer, as a ball from Allott took the edge of his bat as he played back defensively, bat a little too far from body, and he snicked a low catch to Nathan Astle at second slip. He scored 6, and England were 33 for four, with Aftab Habib coming in on his Test debut to face an unexpected crisis.

There was another tremour as Ramprakash played Doull backward of square leg, and Habib almost took off for what would have been almost an action replay of the Butcher run-out. This time, though, he managed to take his finger off the self-destruct button in time. Both batsmen struggled to get off the mark, Habib eventually winning the race by turning Allott backward of square leg.

Allott finally retired with figures of 7-1-22-2, to be replaced by Chris Cairns. Doull did even better, with 8-5-8-1, and Dion Nash took over at his end. Cairns made the breakthrough, moving a ball away from Ramprakash, who had faced 27 balls without scoring or even looking comfortable; the ball came off his thigh pad to be superbly taken by keeper Adam Parore, and umpire Steve Bucknor decided that it had also touched the edge of his bat, although this was not confirmed by the television replay. England were now 38 for five. This was Parore's hundredth dismissal in Test cricket (his 97th catch), although not all had been as a keeper.

Chris Read came in to join his fellow debutant, and also scored his first run by turning a ball backward of square leg. This was the first run off the bat for about half an hour, and was greeted with rapturous applause from the crowd. Soon after came further dismay for England, as Cairns broke through Habib's defences to bowl him for one, off 27 balls. England were now reeling at 40 for six, still well short of the 64 (at Wellington in 1977/78) which is their lowest total against New Zealand, and seemingly without hope of reaching their lowest in England, 158 at the same Edgbaston ground in 1990.

Caddick brought the crowd almost to its feet with a firm leg-glide off Nash which brought him three, the boundary just being saved by fine leg running round. But runs remained at a premium, and Nash eventually proved too good for Read, who had not added to his single, with a shortish ball; the batsman was unable to get back or across far enough, and fended a low catch to substitute fielder Chris Harris in the gully. England were now 45 for seven.

Caddick reached the third-man boundary with a rather cramped cut off Cairns that was just wide of third slip, but it was a close call. He followed it up with a capable on-drive that brought up the team's fifty and took him to 11, the team's highest individual total apart from Extras, then on 12. Even this target was soon overtaken with a push past point for two.

Caddick added to his laurels and his score with the first ball after lunch, from Allott, which he dabbed neatly between third slip and gully for four. But New Zealand missed a chance of dismissing him off the final ball of the over, as a low snick to first slip was uncharacteristically dropped by Fleming.

Tudor finally got off the mark with a superb cover drive to the boundary off Doull, then in Allott's next over Caddick carved another boundary to take the total to 68, safely past England's lowest of 64 against New Zealand. This was now the highest partnership of the innings, passing the 21 for the second wicket, and it was extended further when Tudor drove Doull wide of mid-on to the boundary.

After this, runs dried up again, but Doull was disappointed to have an lbw appeal against Caddick rejected, no doubt because it was moving far too much after starting well wide of the off stump. The next delivery also swung a long way, so wide down the leg side in fact that Parore could not prevent it from going for four byes.

Occasional boundaries continued to come: a drive through extra cover by Caddick, a scoop over gully and two slashes in the same area by Tudor, the last bringing up the fifty partnership. Hard though they toiled, the bowlers were unable to get the same help from the conditions as they had before lunch, and these two batsmen were particularly determined and obdurate. Caddick brought up the hundred, an unlikely-looking landmark at lunch, by swinging Nash to the midwicket boundary. Then Tudor, seemingly playing simple block-and-slog tactics, scoring only in fours, hit two leg-side boundaries off Cairns, and it seemed by now as if England rather than New Zealand held the ascendancy. New Zealand were still relying on their four pace bowlers, bowling more or less in rotation, and Daniel Vettori's spin did not appear to be an option.

However, even for England all good things must come to an end, and the stand was finally broken after the addition of 70 runs, as Caddick was caught at the wicket off Nash, followed by Allan Mullally in similar fashion first ball. This was now Parore's 100th dismissal in Test cricket as a keeper. Phil Tufnell duly survived the hat-trick ball.

With such a renowned practitioner with the bat as Tufnell coming in, it was not expected that England's innings should last much longer. Sure enough it didn't, although there were a few lusty blows, not least from the darling of the crowd himself, who put Cairns over mid-off for a lusty four. Cairns put an end to the innings not much later, when he had Tufnell edging a catch to Fleming at first slip. With just under half an hour to go until the regular tea-time, tea was duly taken at this point.

Such had been the appreciation of the crowd, which admittedly only half- filled the ground, for this tail-end revival that it hardly seemed as if England were exactly 100 runs in arrears on first innings and facing likely defeat. They will also have to bat fourth on a pitch expected to take spin later in the match, although with the rate at which wickets are falling it may well have failed to reach that stage when England go in again. New Zealand's immediate objective was to occupy the crease for as long as possible - they would want to be going strong still on Sunday - and set England an unattainable target.

His team may be struggling with the bat, but in the field Nasser Hussain seemed able to do little wrong in this match. He decided on Andy Caddick this time, rather than Alan Mullally, to bowl England's first over in the second innings, and the former New Zealander responded immediately. His first ball pitched on middle stump and straightened; Roger Twose, facing a pair on his former home ground, played half forward with his bat well behind his pad and was adjudged lbw in what appeared to be a pretty plumb decision. After two very small and unconvincing innings against Somerset last weekend, Twose at present is in such poor form that he appears hardly to know which end of the bat to hold. In this particular innings, it would not have made any difference anyway.

Mullally was not long in making his first strike, drawing Matt Horne forward with a ball that moved away and winning a caught-behind appeal from umpire Bucknor, although Horne himself appeared quite unconvinced. Horne made 1, and New Zealand were now 5 for two. Although England still had a very long way to go, they were continuing their fightback. A flier from Mullally beat Astle, and then an lbw decision was rejected - the ball would have hit the stumps but pitched clearly outside leg -- and it was clear that life was not going to be comfortable for the tourists for a while.

England missed the chance of another vital breakthrough when Fleming, with only a single to his credit, snicked Caddick directly to Stewart at second slip, only for the catch to go down. The first boundary came in the following over, from Mullally, when Astle cracked him through the covers. Then another lbw appeal was rejected; with such sharp movement off the seam, Mullally's left-arm-over style militates against lbw decisions.

A number of dismissals in this match have seemed to indicate that the batsmen are still suffering from the one-day mentality, but none was worse than the manner of Astle's departure. Slashing wildly at a wide ball from Mullally outside the off stump, he gifted the keeper an easy catch in the ultimate example of how to throw your wicket away. New Zealand urgently needed their batsmen to stay there and work for a big lead, but Astle did them no favours. He made 9, and reduced his team to 17 for three.

Not long afterwards, McMillan tried to do the same, slashing with a diagonal bat at Caddick but getting away without a touch. The indications are that New Zealand's batsmen are somewhat lacking in both technique and temperament at the moment - as could also be said of England's top order. The one-day syndrome has perhaps helped to make Test cricket more exciting and entertaining, but very much at the expense of the quality of the batting. Fine as the bowling may have been, and admittedly the pitch afforded more than normal assiatnce, it was not matched by the batting.

Gradually, though, the bowling became less dangerous and the batsmen more assured, although this was only a temporary lull in the proceedings. Tudor replaced Mullally in the 11th over, the latter changing ends but losing direction, particularly to the left-handed Fleming, although McMillan struck a half-volley through the covers for four. Mullally had the last laugh, though, moving the ball across McMillan as he drove, catching the edge of the bat for a catch by Butcher at second slip. New Zealand were now 39 for four, with McMillan out for 15. Fleming was still there on 9, apparently determined to hang in and make the most of his early escape.

Cairns was the next batsman to depart, driving unnecessarily and unconvincingly outside the off stump to nudge a catch to the keeper off Caddick, and then waiting unnecessarily and unconvincingly for the umpire's decision before departing for the pavilion. He scored 3, and New Zealand were now in a similar disastrous situation to England at 46 for five. This became 46 for six only two balls later, as Parore, his first-innings heroics well in the past, also poked helplessly outside off stump to edge a catch to second slip.

Incompetence reigned supreme, and another three-day Edgbaston Test looked inevitable, only this time the batting was at fault more than the pitch. The ground was now somewhat over half-full and the crowd was baying with the excitement almost like a one-day crowd. Mullally felt he had Nash lbw with a fine ball that cut back in, but the ball was probably clearing the top of the stumps.

Fleming, aware of his responsibilities as captain and the only recognised batsman left, rarely indulged in his usual attractive strokeplay, although he did play a fine drive off Mullally to the extra-cover boundary. He almost spoilt it later in the over, though, with a slash outside the off stump, which fortunately for him did not make contact.

Nash was less fortunate, quite unnecessarily slashing at Caddick outside the off stump and being adjudged caught at the wicket without scoring. His rush of blood sent his team tumbling to 52 for seven. Vettori had scarcely come in when he at least was genuinely beaten and yorked, off stump, by a fine delivery.

Fleming, overwhelmed it seems by responsibility, was unable to dominate, even with the number ten at the crease, but Doull seemed more willing to play his strokes, pulling Mullally for four, and then hitting Caddick for three boundaries in an over, one over his head that was not far off a six, another pulled down to long leg, and the third sweetly off-driven. A clip to third man took him to 20, equal with Fleming, who soon regained the lead with a classy four wide of mid-on off Tudor. But Doull surged ahead again with some more belligerence, and it looked as if New Zealand could even hope to reach the giddy heights of 100 after all.

Doull continued to show his betters how to bat, although a swat to the boundary just to the off side of the bowler Mullally could not be found in any text book; a drive for four through extra cover was somewhat more orthodox. Finally Hussain turned to Tufnell to deliver the first overs of spin of the day. But a back-foot slash by Doull through the covers took New Zealand to three figures and himself to 40, his highest Test score. It also meant a 50-run partnership, scored off only 60 balls; the number ten had completely dominated the stand with his captain.

Tufnell made the breakthrough, quite fortuitously as it turned out. Fleming, attempting to cut, got a bottom edge that hit Read on the thigh and then bounced up, for him to catch the rebound. He had made 25, and New Zealand were now 106 for nine.

With Allott in, Doull seemed to decide to go for broke, first stepping down the pitch and swinging wildly, and then staying put, swinging and having an appeal for a catch at the wicket rejected. He then took a more sensible single on the off side. Allott twice groped and missed, and Caddick clutched his head in frustration and disbelief. But, sure enough, Doull succeeded in his intention of throwing his wicket away, sneaking down the pitch to Tufnell and getting himself stumped. He had made 46, a fine innings marred only by a rather unnecessary dismissal in the mould of many of his colleagues. New Zealand were all out for 107, leaving England 208 to win.

It was a notable achievement by Read, who became the first English wicket- keeper to achieve six dismissals in his first Test match. Creditable though it was, there are some New Zealand batsmen he might consider buying a drink by way of thanks for their assistance.

England had to bat for three overs before the close, and a computer, fed with data regarding the match so far, might well have come up with the prediction that they would lose two wickets in that time. So they might have done, had the light not intervened.

Butcher got the score moving with a three to third man, but Stewart then completed the unusual achievement of being dismissed twice in the same day in a Test match, scoring a single in the first innings and a little less second time round. He was yorked third ball by Allott, a fine delivery. Tudor, a third Surrey player, saw out the last ball of the over as night- watchman before the umpires decided the light was too bad and called a halt to the day's proceedings.

England certainly played themselves back into the match during the final session, but still need 205 more tomorrow with nine wickets left. It could be an exciting finish, but that would not excuse the woeful batting displays so far in this match, unworthy of the status of the game.

Day 3: Tudor triumphant

When hostilities commenced, Simon Doull began with a wayward over to Butcher, which included two byes off a poor leg-side delivery and a square-cut four. Allott, on the other hand, immediately beat Butcher's back-foot defence, but then conceded a two through the covers and three through midwicket. It was then followed by a close lbw appeal, but the ball was probably missing leg stump. Butcher in Doull's next over hooked him powerfully for four, and at this stage had scored all 19 runs from the bat, the other four being extras.

It was a positive start by England, and Nasser Hussain said at the post-match press conference that from past experience he knew that, despite the vagaries of what he called a typical Edgbaston pitch, off-line deliveries were very easy to hit for four, and his side batted with this in mind.

Tudor finally got off the mark with a superb back-foot cover drive to the boundary off Allott, but then came close to playing the next two balls on to his stumps. He seemed to have decided that his night-watchman duties were over as far as holding an end up was concerned. In Allott's next over he slashed and missed, but then cracked a square cut to the boundary. This mixture seemed indicative of the hit-and-miss tactics adopted by both teams during this match; there were some superb strokes, but also a great many very badly judged ones. At the other end, he played a similar magnificent cut for four off Doull, but then tried to pull the next ball, only to sky it over the bowler's head for two; the next ball was a straight drive for two. He finished the over with a miscued hook that finished at the feet of the keeper.

Butcher, in the shadows during Tudor's assault, returned to the limelight by bringing up the fifty with an uppish square cut for four over backward point. Vettori came on to bowl, and Tudor greeted him with a fine off-drive to the boundary, and another four through extra cover.

Butcher when on 26 tried to sweep Vettori, and the ball lobbed up for silly point to catch it, but a vociferous New Zealand appeal was rejected. The television replay appeared to show the decision by umpire Bucknor to be a good one, with the ball coming off the forearm. A quiet period followed, with the bowlers tying the batsmen down, until Butcher finally hit Allott through the covers for four. With the sun shining, the bowlers were unable to find the same assistance from the conditions as they had on the first two days, and the batsmen in turn seemed less suicidal, although they had enjoyed one or two fortunate escapes. The New Zealand bowlers also, as Stephen Fleming admitted at the press conference, were unable to bowl with the same accuracy as on the previous day. The balance of the match had swung steadily back towards England. The crowd, still only half-filling the ground, was showing signs of boredom.

Butcher restored interest to the spectators, adjudged caught behind off Nash by umpire Bucknor, although the replay suggested it may have hit only the thigh pad without being conclusive. England were 76 for two, with Butcher out for 33. This brought the crowd back to life, and there was a great roar of enthusiasm as Hussain clipped his second ball through midwicket to the boundary.

Eager to maintain the advantage of the second-wicket partnership, which had been a record for England against New Zealand at Edgbaston, Hussain on-drove Nash for four, and exuded an air of purpose and confidence. At the other end he hooked Cairns contemptuously for four, while Tudor played a superb back-foot cover drive to the boundary off Nash, and then cut him uppishly for four to third man, giving further evidence that he may before long be regarded as a genuine all-rounder. Certainly Hussain's choice of him as night-watchman was another credit to the captain.

The hundred came up when Hussain forced Cairns off the back foot past a despairing gully to the third-man boundary. After the events of the match so far, it would have been dangerous to suggest that England were heading for victory, but certainly at this point they were looking like it. Tudor played another outstanding cover drive off the back foot for four off Nash, which had the crowd chanting his name - his tenth boundary. Hussain matched his stroke, off Cairns this time, before Tudor brought the crowd to its feet with another boundary through the covers off the same bowler to bring up a maiden Test fifty.

A sharply lifting ball from Nash hit Hussain of the left arm, causing him considerable pain and holding up play for a few minutes. This quietened the scoring rate for a while as well, with Tudor playing out Vettori for the first maiden over of the innings, before Hussain recovered to swat Nash through the covers for four. Perhaps in desperation New Zealand brought on Astle as their sixth bowler immediately before lunch, but he was unable to break through. The teams left the field with a section of the crowd chanting, 'Tudor, Tudor,' and with England now having to face the daunting prospect of winning a match they had tried so hard to throw away in their first innings.

Tudor was nearly yorked in the first over after lunch, bowled by Allott, but then clipped him away through midwicket to the boundary to record a new highest first-class score; his previous best was 56. At the other end Hussain got under way again by cracking Doull backward of point for four, and then hit Allott for another through the covers. Tudor brought up the 150 with two boundaries, one through midwicket off Doull and one through the covers off Allott. With his score on 68, thoughts began to arise of a possible Test century, but the approaching cut-off point of 208 made it seem unlikely.

Tudor did enjoy a slightly lucky escape, as a drive just cleared extra cover on its way to the boundary. The next ball was dispatched neatly to the midwicket boundary, and the crowd began chanting his name again. A third four off the same over from Doull was clubbed wide of mid-on, and a fourth past gully, taking him to 84. Suddenly a century became a realistic proposition - if he could hold his nerve.

Hussain hit Allott for four through the covers, but then finally, attempting a straight drive, he was bowled by a superb delivery through the gate for 44. England were 164 for three, and Hussain had done his job as captain; only the most remarkable circumstances of a remarkable match could now have deprived his team of victory.

Thorpe was soon off the mark with an involuntary edge, along the ground, for four, while Tudor continued to score almost entirely in boundaries, pulling new bowler McMillan past midwicket - his twentieth. Thorpe's next scoring stroke was much more orthodox, a fierce cut off Allott, followed in Allott's next over with a pull for four. Tudor was now on 91, with just 13 needed for victory. Thorpe, however, seemed unwilling to help his partner to three figures, although at the press conference Tudor said that Thorpe had suggested that it would be easier were he (Thorpe) to concentrate on singles, to which he replied that the only important thing was for England to win the game. Thorpe picked up runs while Tudor battled his nerves and became more hesitant. An off-drive for three by Thorpe brought up the 200, and also aroused boos from the crowd, who were willing Tudor to three figures. On 202, England needed six to win and Tudor had only 92. He pushed Allott through the overs for two, and the cry went up for a six. A pushed single on the leg side gave Thorpe the strike, and he pushed a two on the off side to level the scores. Tudor on 95 now could still reach his century, but only if he hit McMillan for six. The bowler had no intention of giving it away, though, and bowled well until finally Tudor went for a short ball, his fourth, aiming for six, but only managed to snick it over the keeper's head for four, to take him to 99 at the end of the match. This was the highest ever score in Tests by an England night-watchman, beating the 98 by Harold Larwood against Australia in the infamous bodyline series of 1932/33.

There then followed the now traditional end-of-match lunacies, as members of the public delighted in invading the pitch and baiting the security guards trying to protect it. Tudor won the Man of the Match award, although Andy Caddick may be considered unlucky: he had more effect on the match as a whole, with his fine bowling and valuable first innings.

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