Cricket: Boon bounty earns reward for tourists

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Australians 262 and 287-5

Worcestershire 90 and 458-4 dec

Australians win by 5 wickets

THE CROWDS have certainly rolled up to watch the 1993 Australians (it is already a weekend sell-out at Taunton) and anyone here for the full three days would have gone home thoroughly entertained by the tourists' breathless final-over victory yesterday, if a mite puzzled by the events that led up to it.

The major curiosity was the ball, which spent the first half of the game zipping past the outside edge, and the second half being deposited into areas that included the outside lane of the New Road by-pass.

In the first four sessions, 21 wickets fell for 366 runs, and Worcestershire's first 11 wickets averaged 10 runs apiece. Worcestershire's next three wickets then averaged 145, and in the next four sessions, only three wickets fell for 529 runs.

A match that at one time seemed destined to end inside two one-sided days produced a wonderful finish, and the Australians - largely on the back of David Boon's second century of the game - squeezed home with a ball to spare when Steve Waugh off drove Richard Illingworth for six.

Boon's brilliant innings yesterday even upstaged Graeme Hick's brutal 187 against, it should be said, a hearteningly ordinary Australian attack. Shane Warne has been touted as a potential match-winner, but when the leg-spinner was bowling to Hick in this game, the only evidence of sharp deviation came from spectators flinging themselves sideways to avoid being pinged on the head.

No less than 96 of the 122 runs conceded by Warne came from the 77 deliveries he bowled to Hick, including, yesterday morning, four sixes in the space of 10 balls. One flat on-drive splintered a seat in front of the press box, before Hick was leg-before to Wayne Holdsworth having added 26 from only 17 balls yesterday.

The sight of Adam Seymour and Stuart Lampitt putting on an unbroken 121 for the fifth Worcestershire wicket did not make Tim Curtis's declaration any simpler. Curtis finally settled on 287 in 55 overs, which turned out to be the perfect equation for the spectators, if not for him.

Matthew Hayden, the left-hander from Queensland, now has an almost unarguable case to open with Mark Taylor in the Tests after adding 96 to two centuries in four innings on tour, while Boon currently looks as though he might be able to play English bowling with his moustache this summer. Yesterday's century took him only two hours and 97 balls, and included 11 fours and two sixes.

After a second-wicket stand of 181 with Hayden, Boon's dismissal, stumped when Illingworth finally persuaded himself to flight one above bail height, turned a relative cruise into a frantic paddle up the rapids. Hayden holed out in the deep and Mark Waugh was run out, but with six required off Illingworth's final two balls, Steve Waugh did it in one.

Allan Border, the Australian captain, has expressed 'sincere regret' over hitting his stumps with his bat after being being bowled by a full toss from Middlesex's Angus Fraser during Monday's tour match at Lord's. No action will be taken by the Australian Cricket Board.