Cricket: Atherton's plan falls flat

THIRD TEST: SECOND DAY: New Zealand 314-8 v England
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The Independent Online
Michael Atherton's contentious decision to put New Zealand in to bat, was looking increasingly erroneous as New Zealand enjoyed a run-a-minute scoring spree in the first hour of the second day's play. By lunch, New Zealand had added 85 to their overnight score of 229 for 5, as both Adam Parore and Chris Cairns passed fifty.

It was by no means disasterous, but by most people's reckoning, once a side reaches 300, the reasons for putting them in have been negated.

Chris Cairns, who together with New Zealand's other enfant terrible, Adam Parore, dashed all hopes of a quick breakthrough by England with some dazzling strokeplay at Lancaster Park this morning. Cairns is a strong striker who likes to stand tall and hit with a straight bat. It is an irresistable combination and he took two majestic boundaries off Caddick before greeting the returning Robert Croft with a huge six over long-off.

Parore was no less impressive and although built of less solid material than his partner, the stature of his shots was on a par in both range and power. He was particularly severe on Gough, and he scythed the Yorkshireman high over cover to bring up his fifty.

If the innings partially redeemed Parore in his detractors' eyes, it went no further. Croft, on hand again like a faithful bloodhound, drew him into an off-side drive and had him well caught by Nasser Hussain at slip.

Before this match started, Croft, eyeing the grassy pitch, felt that if he got much of a bowl, that such a dismissal was about the only way he could imagine getting wickets. Two have so far been caught there, but what nobody could have predicted, given that Test cricket is meant to be an elite form of the game, was the improbable manner of the next dismissal. Simon Doull was run-out off a no-ball, after a direct hit from Phil Tufnell, whose pick up and throw from mid-on had plucked out the middle stump at the keeper's end.

It was a moment that was as harebrained as it was unexpected and Cairns, who was to blame, was forced to make amends by curtailing his agressive instincts. Typically, such intentions proved futile and he became Caddick's first victim of the match just before lunch, edging a seaming ball to Stewart behind the stumps.

(England won toss)

NEW ZEALAND - First innings

(Overnight: 229 for 5)

A C Parore c Hussain b Croft 59

C L Cairns c Stewart b Caddick 57

S B Doull run out 1

D L Vettori not out 9

H T Davis not out 1

Extras (b1 lb16 nb18) 35

Total (for 8, 119 overs) 314

Fall: 1-14 (Young), 2-78 (Pocock), 3-106 (Horne), 4-137 (Astle), 5-201 (Fleming), 6- 283 (Parore), 7-288 (Doull), 8-310 (Cairns).

To bat: G I Allott.

Bowling: Cork 20-3-78-1; Caddick 28-8-48-1; Gough 20-3-66-1; Croft 34- 4-83-4; Tufnell 16-6-22-0; Thorpe 1-1-0-0.

ENGLAND: N V Knight, *M A Atherton, A J Stewart, N Hussain, G P Thorpe, J P Crawley, D G Cork, R D B Croft, D Gough, A R Caddick, P C R Tufnell.

Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and R S Dunne.

TV replay umpire: D M Quested. Match referee: P J P Burge.