CRICKET: Atherton content despite defeat

England have to settle for tied one-day series as New Zealand dispense with captain Germon and promote Fleming
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New Zealand 228-8 England 200 New Zealand win by 28 runs

Michael Atherton insisted that "objectives had been achieved" in New Zealand, despite defeat in yesterday's fifth and final one-day international which meant that the series was tied 2-2.

The England captain regards the 2-0 victory in the Test series as the most important business of the tour - and he emphasised that England did not actually lose the one-day series.

"New Zealand are a more than capable one-day side," Atherton said. "They fought back well after going 2-0 down and I must say we were feeling a bit tired at the end of a long winter. When you are two up in a series and you can't lose and things have gone pretty well, the tendency is to step off the gas a little bit. That's not an excuse. It's a pretty disappointing end but generally things have gone well for us here. We'll go home on a high rather than on a low."

His counterpart, New Zealand's captain Lee Germon, was rewarded for two successive one-day wins with the sack. The wicketkeeper/batsman, who has been captain in all 12 Tests he has played since his debut in India late in 1995, becomes the first New Zealand skipper to be dropped in mid- season since Jeff Crowe in 1988.

Germon has paid the price for the Kiwis' defeat in the Test series. The convenor of selectors, Ross Dykes, named the 23-year-old Stephen Fleming to lead the side in two Tests against Sri Lanka, the first of which starts in Dunedin on Friday.

"There was a lot of soul searching and really it came down to form, which is the criteria we've tried to use throughout the season. That's the bottom line," Dykes said.

England struggled to raise their game at the Basin Reserve yesterday, bowling poorly in parts during New Zealand's 228 for 8, fielding scrappily in comparison with their recent displays and then batting in a substandard fashion. Once again, they found the slow medium pace of Chris Harris difficult to get away. Harris conceded only 22 runs from his 10-over spell, and also took the wicket of Nasser Hussain.

Gavin Larsen, who was New Zealand's other main bowling weapon, had John Crawley lbw for 11 and finally snuffed out England's hopes of victory by having Graham Thorpe stumped for 55. The Surrey left-hander was ninth out as he charged and swung in desperation. The man of the match, Nathan Astle, added to his innings of 94 by picking up the wickets of Jack Russell and Craig White in three balls to finish with 2 for 26.

Crawley and Russell, who was playing only his eighth day's cricket in three and a half months, were drafted in as England reorganised their line-up because of Nick Knight's broken finger and Dominic Cork's hamstring strain.

Andy Caddick was the pick of England's bowlers, although the off-spinner Robert Croft finished his highly successful debut tour with another very competent spell.

At one stage New Zealand appeared to be heading for a total of around 250, but England never looked capable of matching their eventual score of 228 - even though Atherton enjoyed several moments of outrageous good fortune. He was bowled by a no-ball, from the second delivery of the innings, and several times inside-edged just past his stumps and hit strokes just short or wide of fielders.

Atherton was eventually run out after taking 82 balls to make 43 and, after a failed experiment to promote the Yorkshire bowler, Chris Silverwood, to No 5, the lower middle order fell away.

After these setbacks, victory depended on Thorpe but, when he charged down the pitch for a quick single, Croft having played a ball towards midwicket, he slipped when trying to turn back and the Glamorgan player had to sacrifice himself.

It seemed a sensible move at the time, but England were fast running out of wickets and, after Thorpe's dismissal, only a defiant last-wicket stand of 27 between the hard-hitting Darren Gough and Caddick enabled England to avoid a heavier margin of defeat.

n Nick Knight's shattered knuckle joint is being held together by six screws. Knight was put under general anaesthetic for the pinning of the knuckle at the base of his left index finger - broken in three places during Sunday's fourth one-day international. The healing process is expected to take six weeks, but Warwickshire fear they could be without their England opener for the first two weeks of the county season.

WELLINGTON SCOREBOARD

New Zealand won toss

NEW ZEALAND

B A Young c Russell b Caddick 11

28 min, 23 balls, 1 four

N J Astle c Atherton b Caddick 94

184 min, 129 balls, 10 fours

S P Fleming lbw b Croft 17

51 min, 34 balls, 3 fours

C L Cairns c Russell b White 1

4 min, 2 balls

A C Parore lbw b Caddick 18

29 min, 27 balls, 2 fours

C Z Harris c Stewart b Gough 36

81 min, 51 balls, 2 fours

*L K Germon lbw b Silverwood 2

5 min, 6 balls

D N Patel not out 16

24 min, 19 balls, 1 four

G R Larsen run out (Croft) 0

4 min, 1 ball

H T Davis not out 7

12 min, 11 balls

Extras (lb10, w14, nb2) 26

Total (for 8, 215 min, 50 overs) 228

Fall: 1-28 (Young), 2-84 (Fleming), 3-87 (Cairns), 4-122 (Parore), 5- 197 (Astle), 6-200 (Germon), 7-206 (Harris), 8-208 (Larsen).

Did not bat: G I Allott.

Bowling: Caddick 10-1-35-3 (w3) (6-1-18-1, 2-0-4-1, 1-0-11-0, 1-0-2-1); Silverwood 10-0-53-1 (w5) (4-0-25-0, 4-0-14-0, 2-0-14-1); Gough 10-1-48- 1 (nb1) (3-0-18-0, 4-1-14-0, 3-0-16-1); White 10-0-44-1 (nb2, w1) (6-0- 30-1, 2-0-8-0, 2-0-6-0); Croft 10-1-38-1 (w2) (5- 1-17-1, 5-0-21-0).

Progress: 50: 45 min, 61 balls. 100: 99 min, 135 balls. 150: 153 min, 214 balls. 200: 189 min, 267 balls.

Astle's 50: 100 min, 66 balls, 7 fours.

ENGLAND

*M A Atherton run out (Harris-Germon) 43

107 min, 82 balls, 5 fours

A J Stewart c Patel b Allott 18

38 min, 23 balls, 3 fours

N Hussain st Germon b Harris 20

37 min, 28 balls, 3 fours

G P Thorpe st Germon b Larsen 55

100 min, 82 balls, 3 fours

C E W Silverwood b Pate 4

12 min, 8 balls

J P Crawley lbw b Larsen 11

16 min, 16 balls, 1 four

R C Russell c Germon b Astle 2

7 min, 5 balls

C White c Germon b Astle 0

1 min, 2 balls

R D B Croft run out (Parore-Astle) 2

14 min, 8 balls

D Gough c Fleming b Davis 16

32 min, 21 balls, 1 four

A R Caddick not out 12

17 min, 13 balls, 1 four

Extras (lb8, w8, nb1) 17

Total (195 min, 47.5 overs) 200

Fall: 1-43 (Stewart), 2-77 (Hussain), 3-107 (Atherton), 4-119 (Silverwood), 5-136 (Crawley), 6-139 (Russell), 7-139 (White), 8-158 (Gough), 9-173 (Thorpe), 10-200 (Gough).

Bowling: Allott 8-0-40-1 (nb1, w4) (6-0-30-1, 2-0-10-0); Davis 7.5-0- 44-1 (w2) (6-0-30-0, 1.5-0-14-1); Larsen 10-0-31-2 (4-0-16-0, 6-0-15-2); Harris 10-2-22-1; Patel 7-0-29-1 (w1), Astle 5-0-26-2 (w1) (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 48 min, 66 balls. 100: 102 min, 153 balls. 150: 156 min, 234 balls. 200: 194 min, 286 balls.

Thorpe's 50: 95 min, 76 balls, 2 fours.

Umpires: R S Dunne and E A Watkin. TV replay umpire: D M Quested. Match referee: P J P Burge.

Man of the match: N J Astle.

NEW ZEALAND WON BY 28 RUNS

SERIES DRAWN 2-2

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