Cricket : Atherton fishes as Cairns suffers

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The Independent Online
England took a day off yesterday while New Zealand fretted over the fitness of their talented all-rounder, Chris Cairns, for the second Test which begins at Basin Reserve, Wellington, on Thursday.

Mike Atherton, the England captain, attempted to forget the embarrassing 90-run defeat against the Kiwis' second string by going fishing. Cairns, meanwhile, was nursing his left ankle after twisting it during a benefit match.

The Nottinghamshire player was not able to bowl during New Zealand's net practice today and if he cannot practice tomorrow it is unlikely that he will be risked for the Test.

Cairns is a vital member of the Kiwi team, sound enough with the bat to go in at No 6, as well as a pace bowler able to act as third or fourth seamer.

Several of New Zealand's Test team, plus England's Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe, played in the benefit game for the Wellington all-rounder Gavin Larsen - an event which attracted a crowd of 8,000.

Cairns had hit 26 for Larsen's team when he turned his ankle and spent the rest of the day receiving ice treatment. In addition to swelling there is some soft tissue damage, although the injury did not require an X-ray.

While Atherton took up rod and line, some of his team favoured more exciting relaxation on the go-kart track. A local winery in Marlborough also proved a distraction.

The England coach, David Lloyd, carted his golf clubs to New Zealand's top course, the testing Peraparaumu links just up the coast from Wellington, while he pondered at least one and probably two changes to the Test team.

The off-spinner Robert Croft is likely to replace Craig White and Chris Silverwood, the 21-year-old Yorkshire fast bowler, is pressing hard for inclusion ahead of Alan Mullally.