Athertonpraises hardy battlers

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The Independent Online
England were singing the praises of the core of steel to be found in the side these days. No rearguard action would be complete without that most Glorious of Glosters, Jack Russell. There were another three hours worth yesterday, but other names were mentioned by the coach David Lloyd.

"Peter Martin was magnificent this morning," Lloyd said. "He stuck around. He played for England. And we are happy with Ronnie Irani. He has just stepped right into the side and if you give him something to work for he responds."

Whether Irani and Martin would have been quite as happy with just 55 per cent of their match fee after all their hard work with the bat, courtesy of one of the biggest fines for a single Test and England's heaviest pecuniary penalty, is another matter. The players will feel the pinch after being hit by the match referee, Cammie Smith, for pounds 1,300 each after falling seven overs behind the prescribed over rate. With five per cent per over for the first five overs and 10 per cent each for the next two, that amounted to a fine of 45 per cent of their pounds 2,800 match fee.

By the sound of things they will get another chance to recoup the loss when the squad for the third Test at Trent Bridge is announced. "We are not going to make wholesale changes," Lloyd said. "There are areas we will talk about, but we are looking for continuity and stability."

England's captain, Mike Atherton, reinforced that impression when he talked about the England attack. Although they could not take the wickets needed to force a victory, Atherton said: "I am very happy with the Dominic Cork-Chris Lewis opening attack and Alan Mullally impressed with pace and bounce. He has done excellently in his two games."

There was no mention of Martin's bowling, but that was probably an oversight. Atherton had the distraction of a NatWest tie to contemplate today and a damaged right index finger. Asked if he had needed stitches, he said: "Unfortunately, no." The implication being he could have done without a first-round tie right after a hard Test.

No tears from him, but plenty more from Dickie Bird. The sponsors presented him with a special award, the crowd, the few who were left, saluted him, as Bird departed the international scene. The sun finally set on the umpire.