Cricket: Boon delivers sales pitch

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The Independent Online
Australians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .262

Worcestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14-1

'THERE ARE', according to the tourists' pen pictures, 'few more solid batsmen in the world than David Boon', with which it would be difficult to take issue. In a collision with the heavy roller, the roller would probably sustain more damage, which has certainly been the case in most of his arguments with English bowlers in recent years.

This is Boon's third Ashes tour, and yesterday's century was that of a player who knows a thing or two about English pitches. This one was of the sporting variety - movement off the seam and variable bounce - albeit not in the same league as the strip of well-grassed corrugated iron upon which Worcestershire polished off the 1989 Australians inside two days.

On that occasion, the tourists were miffed enough to decline the offer of a third-day beer match, which may explain why Worcestershire, mindful of their duty to the members and sponsors, appeared reluctant to take full advantage of yesterday's conditions. Their bowlers failed to locate the whereabouts of the stumps far too often, and if there was a case for an even number of slip fielders, it would have been for four rather than two.

A crowd of around 4,000, Worcestershire's best for the opening day of a tourist match since the 1972 Australians were here, turned up half in anticipation of Merv Hughes and Craig McDermott aiming to make an impression (not so much with their own selectors as in Graeme Hick's helmet) although in the event, the tourists' two major pace bowlers were not named in the side, and Hick had a comparatively gentle half-hour at the end of the day.

It is doubtful whether the Australians had decided to keep their powder dry for Hick, as Hughes is still not fully fit following a knee operation, and equally dubious is the idea that Hick did not bowl in order to deprive the enemy of an early sight of England's leading Test-match wicket-taker in India.

That particular statistic is scarcely a comforting one for England, and their dearth of bowling resources will not be solved, on yesterday's evidence, by Worcestershire this summer. Neal Radford produced several unplayable deliveries, but his radar too often went on the blink, and Phil Newport, who took 11 wickets in this fixure in 1989, was similarly inconsistent.

The comparatively inexperienced left-arm seamer Chris Tolley was Worcestershire's best bowler, encouraged by a wicket with his first ball. He had the tall left-hander, Matthew Hayden, well caught in the gully, and Hayden - with centuries in both his previous innings on tour - is a useful scalp to get.

Hayden, in fact, is already inked in to open with Mark Taylor (captaining the side here while Allan Border takes a rest) with Boon reverting to the No 3 position both he and Australia prefer, despite having done most of his Pommy-bashing at the top of the order.

Boon enjoyed a fair amount of luck yesterday, dropped by Damian D'Oliveira at first slip when 26, and edging several deliveries through the curiously vacant third and fourth slip areas. However, Boon's poker- player expression suggests that he is not the sort to fret about this sort of thing, and he already looks in ominous nick.

Hampshire's batting collapsed at The Parks yesterday when Oxford University's Michael Jeh took a career-best 5 for 63. The students ended the first day at 33 for 0 after Hampshire made 169. Robert Croft hit a maiden century to rescue Glamorgan against Cambridge University at Fenner's, helping his county to 298 for 8.

(Photograph omitted)

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