Cricket: England's overnight pair hold ground to breach vital barrier

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The Independent Online
It would be impossible to give too much credit to Angus Fraser for the way in which he kept the West Indian fast bowlers at bay for the first 80 minutes play on the second morning.

He was a most dependable partner for Nasser Hussain and enabled England to take their score past 200, which was psychologically so important.

Although it may sound ridiculous to the uninitiated there is all the difference in the world between being bowled out for, say, 193 than it is to finish with 214, far more than just 21 runs. A score of more than 200 has a infinitely more solid ring to it.

Fraser is an admirable cricketer and his gutsy performance was no more than one would have expected. In the first over of the day, he tried to duck to a Kenny Benjamin bouncer which struck him on the helmet and two overs later he ducked again and ball flew off his body for four leg byes.

But Fraser just gritted his teeth and got on with it. Many times in defence, Fraser played the ball with both feet off the ground and there was something splendidly defiant and heroic about his batting. It had "England expects..." written all over it.

Hussain was no less impressive. Even if he was a bit more like a jack- in-a-box in his movement. One moment, he was up on his toes dancing away to leg as the ball lifted; the next, as he played one which kept low, he ended up squatting anxiously on his haunches and holding the pose for a second or two.

Then, he would try and glance a ball to fine leg, fall away to the off side and miss it altogether. He would scratch the ground in irritation and walk quickly round the stumps, trying to dissipate all that nervous energy. But he stuck it out, never trying to hit his way out of it.

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