England v New Zealand Third Test Preview
Rick Eyre - 5 August 1999

The Mark Butcher Era of English cricket begins today. It could well end by Monday evening, but in the meantime the 26 year-old Surrey opener will secure his place in history as England's 73rd Test captain.

Butcher was confirmed as captain for the Third Test against New Zealand, beginning at Old Trafford today, when Nasser Hussain gave up his struggle to be passed fit yesterday morning. Hussain, still recovering from a broken finger suffered at Lord's twelve days ago, made the decision yesterday morning, not going ahead with his net session.

With the four-match series tied at 1-1, and England's batting in the first two Tests very disappointing, Hussain's absence is a major blow. Aftab Habib, however was the only batsman dropped from the Second Test side. Mike Atherton will bat as Butcher's opening partner with Alec Stewart moving to first drop. Graeme Hick, yet again, returns to the side and is expected to bat at five. Mark Ramprakash, overlooked for the captaincy, is demoted to number six.

The pitch that Lancashire groundsman Peter Marron has prepared for the Test was last used for the high-scoring World Cup semi-final between Pakistan and New Zealand seven weeks ago. England are expected to go into this game with two spinners - Phil Tufnell and Peter Such. Dean Headley and Andy Caddick are favoured to share the new ball, which means Alan Mullally and Chris Silverwood missing out. Butcher will be adding first-change seamer to his list of responsibilities.

New Zealand have made one change to the team that defeated England by nine wickets at Lord's. Geoff Allott is not 100 per cent fit and has been left out with the pitch not expected to assist the seamers. Chris Harris is a somewhat surprising replacement. New-ball duties will fall to Chris Cairns and Dion Nash. The team has batting ability right down to number eleven, Daniel Vettori having completed his maiden first-class century last week.

Today's weather forecast for the Manchester region from the UK Met Office (issued at 4am BST) says that it will be cloudy in the morning with rain at times, possibly heavy. Drier and brighter conditions are expected in the afternoon.


England (likely): Mark Butcher (capt), Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe, Graeme Hick, Mark Ramprakash, Chris Read (wk), Dean Headley, Andy Caddick, Peter Such, Phil Tufnell. (Also in squad: Chris Silverwood, Alan Mullally.)

New Zealand: Matthew Horne, Matthew Bell, Stephen Fleming (capt), Nathan Astle, Roger Twose, Craig McMillan, Chris Cairns, Adam Parore (wk), Chris Harris, Dion Nash, Daniel Vettori.

Umpires: David Shepherd, Russell Tiffin. Video: Ken Palmer. Match referee: Peter van der Merwe.