Cricket: Butcher departs early again

England on tour: Caddick's bowling provides brightest hope as opening batsmen falter
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The Independent Online
MARK BUTCHER suffered another early dismissal yesterday to continue his disappointing start to the winter tour as England struggled in reply to the Combined Western Province/Boland XI at Newlands.

The Surrey left-hander has failed to make a significant score at England level for the best part of a year and has been unable to lift himself out of the slump since arriving in South Africa, scoring just 21 runs in his previous two innings.

With a maximum of six innings before the opening Test at Johannesburg on 25 November, it was vital that Butcher rediscovered his form when England began their reply to the Combined XI's declared first-innings total of 358 for 9 just before tea on the second day.

But Butcher lasted only 16 minutes, faced 13 deliveries and scored no runs before having his off-stump uprooted by the promising left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby in the fifth over of England's reply.

At tea England were 11 for 1 and they lost the captain, Nasser Hussain, soon afterwards. Hussain, having got going with a confident hook for four, fell to the same stroke when he took on another short-pitched delivery from Roger Telemachus to leave them at 14 for 2.

It was left to Michael Vaughan, playing his opening first-class game for England, and Mike Atherton to steady the ship and guide England to 78 for 2 at the close.

Butcher's dismissal, which follows a similarly depressing run at Test level of 15 innings without a half-century since his 116 at Brisbane last November, followed an equally frustrating morning in the field after the Combined XI resumed on 247 for 5. England, hoping their leading batsmen could gain some valuable time at the crease, wanted to make early inroads into the Combined XI's lower order but were instead delayed for a further 46.2 overs before the hosts declared.

England's top performer, though, was unquestionably the Somerset pace bowler Andrew Caddick, who took 5 for 53 off 33.2 overs. He added to the three wickets he took on Friday by having the nightwatchman Claude Henderson caught at slip and then trapping Steve Palframan lbw. Palframan struck 72 off 97 balls. Kenny Jackson, 69 not out overnight, was less enterprising in taking his score to 80. His entire innings lasted just over three and a half hours.

Alan Mullally was a useful ally for Caddick as the pair attempted to prevent the Combined XI progressing to a formidable first-innings total.

They managed to bring the Combined XI's scoring to a virtual standstill at the start of the day, both delivering accurate and penetrative opening spells.

The hosts added just five runs in the first 10 overs with Henderson, who resumed on two, hitting the opening scoring shot of the day with a single off Mullally in the fifth over.

Jackson took 24 deliveries to add to his 69 before Caddick made the breakthrough in the 15th over of the day. Having progressed to seven, Henderson pushed forward to a delivery which seamed away late and he edged into Atherton's hands.

Mullally, who had been withdrawn from the attack to allow Caddick to switch to the Wynberg End, returned and struck with his fifth delivery, just six overs later.

He was driven for the first boundary of the day by Palframan earlier in the over, but recovered his composure to deliver a perfect leg-stump yorker to end Jackson's stay at the crease.

Those two dismissals left the Combined XI on 274 for 7, but Palframan plundered another boundary off Butcher to reach lunch on 20 and take his side to 291 for 7. England toiled manfully in the afternoon but were unable to finish off the Combined XI's innings quickly and they went on to compile a useful total.

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