Cricket: Adams counters another England batting collapse

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England 271-7 v Free State-Griqualand West

THE NEW boys, Andrew Flintoff and Chris Adams, prevented England suffering another embarrassing batting collapse and steered the tourists into a comfortable position against a Combined Free State-Griqualand West XI.

England, asked to bat in good batting conditions, were hopeful that their top order would respond by spending useful time at the crease ahead of the first Test in Johannesburg in less than a fortnight's time. Instead they lost the openers, Mark Butcher and Michael Atherton, inside the opening 11 overs and only captain Nasser Hussain, who made 41, passed 30 in the top five - hardly the preparation England wanted with a maximum of three more innings before the Test.

It was left to Adams and Flintoff, both on their first senior tour, to rescue the innings with the pair adding 132 in 41 overs to help their side reach 271 for 7 at the close. Adams hit a superb 84, including 10 boundaries, before edging to slip five overs before the close and Flintoff looked set to finish unbeaten but was trapped leg before off what became the final delivery of the day.

The tourists had hoped to make the most of this fixture with the first Test fast approaching and desperately needed their leading batsmen to rediscover their form. But once again they failed to convince and England reached tea on the first day at 173 for 5.

Butcher, who had scored only 24 runs from four tour innings,f ailed once again, scoring three and leaving England with a real opening worry before the first Test.

Atherton followed three overs later and although the captain, Nasser Hussain, and Michael Vaughan steadied the England innings by adding 53 in 14 overs they both fell before lunch to put the team in serious trouble. It was left to Adams and Flintoff to turn things around.

First day of four

England: first innings

M Butcher c Liebenberg b Bakkes 3

M Atherton b Vorster 26

*N Hussain c Bossenger

b Bakkes 41

M Vaughan c Gidley b Van der Wath 14

A Stewart b Roe 19

C Adams c Brooker b Van der Wath 84

A Flintoff lbw b Bakkes 65

G Hamilton not out 8

Extras (b-3 lb-3 nb-4 w-1) 11

Total (for 7 wickets) 271

To bat: D Gough, A Mullally, P Tufnell.

Fall: 1-25 2-33 3-86 4-94 5-127 6-259 7-271

Bowling: Van der Wath 20-0-72-2 (3nb, 1w); Bakkes 20.5-7-50-3; Vorster 11-4-53-1; Roe 20-6-62-1 (1nb); Gidley 18-5-28-0.