Cricket: 4th Test - Thorpe loss the final blow

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The Independent Online
A SUMMER of discontent looks like turning into a winter of worry. Graham Thorpe's decision not to tour South Africa was one piece of news England could have done without on yet another day of abject batsmanship.

Today's selection meeting at which the tour party is to be chosen - the announcement follows on Wednesday - is littered with negatives. At the start of the series against New Zealand the Surrey left-hander Thorpe was considered to be the best batsman in England, now he is not even available.

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, insisted he will not be tendering his resignation, not after having just accepted to carry on in the post for a further two years, but Thorpe's enforced absence, because, quite reasonably, he feels that after 10 winters away from home he would like to give a little of himself to his growing family, leaves a sizeable headache for the selection committee of captain Nasser Hussain, coach Duncan Fletcher and Graveney.

The problem had Hussain saying at the post match press conference: "Please make a list of any youngsters and have a look at their stats, ring me on the mobile and tell me which one stands out above the rest, because that is just what Duncan Fletcher, David Graveney and myself will be doing.

"People think we have been playing the same side every game but we have brought in Read, Habib, Maddy, Irani, the side is changing. And we will continue to bring people in. It is not just a case of, `Here's your England place, you've got it for life'. But there has to be some consistency in selection from now on."

Finding batsmen who can do better than yesterday's shower should not be too difficult, although when the victorious New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was asked which England player or players he would pick in his team, he did not come up with a batsman, indeed he did not come up with an Englishman. Instead he named Andrew Caddick, New Zealand-born, English- qualified. That said it all, really.

It is why this morning England find themselves firmly ensconced at the bottom of the Test Championship table, based on series victories.

The contrast with 20 years ago is stark. If a table had been compiled in 1979 it would have shown England top and New Zealand sixth and last. Today, Hussain's men take over from New Zealand bottom of the heap and Fleming added sombrely: "It is not pretty, it is not a great place to be, at the bottom of the table. It is a relief for us to get off the bottom rung."

Relief is the last thing Hussain has been experiencing since taking over the leadership. He admitted: "I have been waking up at 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning with nerves in my belly, wanting England to do well. I'm sure the rest of the team do that as well, I'm sure it is not just me."

He was as mystified as the thousands of fans who turned up on the fourth day anticipating the resurrection of English Test cricket as to why it all went wrong and the last seven wickets fell for just 19 runs.

"I am very disappointed. We have worked hard this summer," said the bewildered, beleaguered captain. "I can't explain what happened."

Another puzzled man was Graveney over the Thorpe revelation. The Surrey man had confided in his close friend Hussain on Wednesday that he had decided not to tour. Graveney admitted: "I learned about it on Friday night."

No one, neither the England captain, nor Thorpe, thought it right to inform Graveney at the earliest possible time; the second example of a breakdown in communications after the Alex Tudor fiasco before the Second Test for which Surrey were roundly condemned by the England management.

THE OVAL SCOREBOARD

England won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First innings 236 (S P Fleming 66no, D L Vettori 51).

ENGLAND - First innings

(Friday: 150 for 7)

M R Ramprakash c Parore b Cairns 30

136 min, 110 balls, 2 fours

A D Mullally c Bell b Vettori 5

44 min, 36 balls

P C R Tufnell not out 0

8 min, 1 ball

E S H GIddins lbw b Cairns 0

4 min, 4 balls

Extras (b1, lb5, w5, nb6) 17

Total (80 overs) 153

Fall (cont): 8-153 (Mullally), 9-153 (Ramprakash).

Bowling: Cairns 19-8-31-5 (nb4) (6-4-11-0, 5-18-1, 5-1-11-2, 3-2-1-2); Nash 14-5-40-1 (nb1, w5) (4-2-7-0, 5-2-13-1, 5-1-20-1); O'Connor 13-3- 30-1 (nb1) (2-0-6-0, 5-1-18-0, 6-2-6-1); Vettori 33-12-46-3 (31-11-44- 2, 2-1-21); Astle 1-1-0-0 (one spell).

NEW ZEALAND - Second innings

M J Horne lbw b Giddins 10

40 min, 31 balls

M D Bell c Irani b Giddins 4

38 min, 24 balls

*S P Fleming c Thorpe b Caddick 4

56 min, 29 balls

N J Astle c Irani b Giddins 5

22 min, 19 balls

R G Twose c Stewart b Giddins 0

9 min, 7 balls

C D McMillan lbw b Mullally 26

68 min, 42 balls, 3 fours

A C Parore b Caddick 1

8 min, 11 balls

C L Cairns c and b Mullally 80

110 min, 94 balls, 8 fours, 4 sixes

D J Nash not out 10

97 min, 55 balls, 1 four

D L Vettori c Ramprakash b Tufnell 6

13 min, 6 balls, 1 four

S B O'Connor b Tufnell 6

10 min, 11 balls

Extras (lb4, w1, nb5) 10

Total (54 overs) 162

Fall: 1-15 (Bell), 2-15 (Horne), 3-22 (Astle), 4-22 (Twose), 5-37 (Fleming), 6-39 (Parore), 7-79 (McMillan), 8-149 (Cairns), 9-156 (Vettori).

Bowling: Caddick 17-4-35-3 (7-3-11-1, 5-1-12-2, 4-0-11-0, 1-0-1-0); Mullally 11-2-27-2 (3-0-8-0, 2-0-5-0, 4-1-9-1, 2-1-5-1); Giddins 10-3-38-3 (nb2) (7-3-9-3, 1-0-16-0, 2-0-13-0); Tufnell 16-3-58-2 (nb3, w1) (6-2-14-0, 6-1-36-0, 4-0-8-2).

Progress: Third day: Lunch: 37-4 (Fleming 4, McMillan 12) 20 overs. 50: 123 min, 27.2 overs. 100: 173 min, 38.5 overs. 150: 217 min, 48.3 overs. Tea: 149-7 (Cairns 80, Nash 10) 48 overs. Innings closed: 4.28pm.

Cairns 50: 73 min, 63 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes.

ENGLAND - Second innings

M A Atherton c Parore b Nash 64

210 min, 158 balls, 8 fours, 1 five

D L Maddy c Fleming b Nash 5

37 min, 16 balls

*N Hussain c Parore b O'Connor 9

32 min, 24 balls, 1 four

G P Thorpe c Fleming b O'Connor 44

101 min, 71 balls, 6 fours

A J Stewart c Bell b Nash 12

51 min, 29 balls, 2 fours

M R Ramprakash c Parore b Nash 0

1 min, 1 ball

R C Irani c Parore b Vettori 9

31 min, 28 balls

A R Caddick c Bell b Vettori 3

10 min, 5 balls

A D Mullally c Twose b Cairns 3

13 min, 11 balls

P C R Tufnell run out (Nash) 1

2 min, 1 ball

E S H Giddins not out 0

2 min, 0 balls

Extras (b2, lb3, nb7) 12

Total (56.1 overs) 162

Fall: 1-23 (Maddy), 2-45 (Hussain), 3-123 (Thorpe), 4-143 (Atherton), 5-143 (Ramprakash), 6-148 (Stewart), 7-157 (Caddick), 8-160 (Irani), 9- 161 (Tufnell).

Bowling: Cairns 15.1-3-50-1 (nb3) (5-1-20-0, 9-2-28-0, 1.1-0-2-1); Nash 14-3-39-4 (nb2) (6-1-10-1, 4-1-15-0, 4-1-14-3); Vettori 16-6-36-2 (6-3- 15-0, 2-0-7-0, 3-1-6-0, 5-2-8-2); O'Connor 11-3-32-2 (nb2) (5-1-22-1, 6-2-10-1).

Progress: Third day: 50: 77 min, 16.2 overs. Close: 91-2 (Atherton 44, Thorpe 28) 27 overs. Fourth day: 100: 138 min, 31.4 overs. 150: 230 min, 51.1 overs. Lunch: 157-7 (Irani 9, Mullally 0) 54 overs. Innings closed: 1.50pm.

Atherton 50: 147 min, 115 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: G Sharp (Eng) and S Venkataraghavan (Ind).

Man of the match: C L Cairns.

Men of the series: A R Caddick and C L Cairns.

NEW ZEALAND WON BY 83 RUNS AND SERIES 2-1

Compiled by Jo King

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