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The Christchurch Press 4th Test: England v New Zealand
The Christchurch Press - 19-23 August 1999

Day 1: Black Caps in trouble

London -- New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming had visions of creating history before the start of the fourth cricket test against England at The Oval on Thursday.

He wanted the Black Caps to become the first New Zealand side to win a test match at the 119-year-old test ground.

Fleming wanted to become the first New Zealand captain to win two tests in England and to become only the second New Zealander after John Wright to score a test century at The Oval.

By stumps yesterday New Zealand was 170 for eight, and Fleming must have wondered whether his targets were still on track.

The tourists' plight would have been much more serious were it not for Fleming himself. He was a beacon of the New Zealand innings, scoring an unbeaten 52 in 257 minutes of diligence.

After battling through to 39 without loss, New Zealand lost six wickets for 48 runs to justify England captain Nasser Hussain's decision to bat second.

Fleming looked forlorn at the fall of every wicket, but he soldiered on in his quest for his first decent knock of the series after making 27, 25, one, five not out, and 38 in the previous tests.

He had only scored 18 after facing his first 100 deliveries, which served to underline how difficult batting was.

He was understandably cautious and his cause was hindered by the loss of a procession of partners at the other end.

Opener Matthew Horne and Nathan Astle were two of New Zealand's big hopes, but the writing was on the wall when they departed, Horne skying Ronnie Irani to point out of frustration for 15 and Astle edging Andy Caddick behind for nine.

Opener Matthew Bell got a start for the 10th time on tour, but his 129-minute stay returned just 23 runs.

Craig McMillan pasted seam bowler Ed Giddins for two boundaries in an over then chipped Irani over his head for a six.

But McMillan, who scored a century in the drawn third test last week at Old Trafford, could not contain himself when left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell came on and was clean bowled for 19 after dancing down the pitch in pursuit of another boundary.

Roger Twose, who made one, Adam Parore, a second-ball duck, and Chris Cairns, who made 11, all failed to rise to the occasion.

That left Fleming to hold the flame, while Dion Nash, with a resolute 18, showed resistance down the order.

After 108 days on tour, Fleming's players appeared a tired lot yesterday, but thankfully the captain himself had other ideas as he tenaciously negotiated his way out of the most perilous passage of the series.

Source: The Christchurch Press
Editorial comments can be sent to The Christchurch Press at press@press.co.nz