Cricket: Butcher left in stitches by bounce

South Australia 334-8 dec England 191-2
Click to follow
The Independent Online
MARK BUTCHER needed 10 stitches in a cut over his right eye as England's batsmen were examined on their Ashes credentials during the second day of their match with Western Australia in Perth.

Almost every member of England's 17-man tour party has discovered that the lively pitches have forced both batsmen and bowlers to adapt their game plans to suit the conditions after a week's intensive net practice at the WACA.

This preparation did not save the Surrey left-hander. Expecting it to lift higher, Butcher ducked into a ball just short of a length from fast bowler Matt Nicholson only two deliveries into England's reply to WA's 334 for 8 declared.

He was led from the pitch with an umpire's tissue preventing blood gushing out of the wound as the captain, Alec Stewart, jogged onto the pitch to help his brother-in-law.

It was a stark reminder of the value of playing at the WACA, where they will contest the second Test with Australia on November 28, even though their preparation time has already cost them dearly, with injuries ruling Stewart and Michael Atherton out of this current fixture while Ben Hollioake and Dean Headley are also struggling with strains.

Yet Butcher is adamant his experience can provide a useful lesson when England play for bigger stakes next month, and insisted he was to blame.

"It shows the importance of getting acclimatised," explained Butcher. "I made a mistake - it's as simple as that. The ball went between the grill and the visor, although I think it clipped the peak so that may have taken some of the impact.

"I didn't feel too bad and then I saw the blood and realised I was in a little difficulty. I was fine to walk off although I started to feel faint when I got to the medical room.

"I was out on my feet, but the stitches were put in quickly and I began to feel a little better. I've now got a bit of a headache and my face hurts, although I don't suppose that's too surprising!"

Butcher's withdrawal forced acting captain Nasser Hussain to step out to the crease rather earlier than he had anticipated and, after John Crawley's departure just 11 overs later, it left England with just two more front- line batsmen to come.

Like Butcher, Hussain and Graham Thorpe struggled with the swinging ball delivered at pace by Nicholson and new ball partner Sean Cary, until the shine subsided and they became more aggressive in a 76-run partnership over 25 overs.

Thorpe, who had hit five boundaries in seven deliveries just before tea, fell two balls after the interval trying to pull Nicholson but merely top edging to Cary at long leg.

Hussain was left to shoulder the responsibility of protecting England's lengthy tail, batting for over three hours to reach the close unbeaten on 93, with Mark Ramprakash unbeaten on 42, and England 191 for 2.

Yesterday's injury continued England's cursed association with Perth stretching back to 1990 when Gooch, manager of the current tour party, was sidelined, and which continued when Stewart broke his finger here four years ago.

England struggled to restrict WA's total after they resumed on 265 for 6. Mullally and Gough claimed a wicket each in the first 11 overs but Nicholson, despite edging virtually all his seven boundaries in his unbeaten 58, lasted over two hours before the captain Justin Langer halted their innings.

Western Australia won toss


(Overnight: 265 for 6)

K M Harvey lbw b Mullally 7

M Nicholson not out 58

B J Oldroyd c Hussain b Gough 9

S Jurgensen not out 13

Extras (b5, lb7, w1, nb2) 15

Total (for 8 dec, 110.5 overs) 334

Fall: 1-4, 2-4, 3-149, 4-193, 5-230, 6-249, 7-266, 8-292.

Did not bat: S R Cary.

Bowling: Mullally 25-8-55-3; Gough 27.5-9-74-4; Cork 16-0-63-0; Fraser 25-6-79-0; Croft 15-4-47-0; Ramprakash 2-0-4-1.

ENGLAND - First Innings

M A Butcher retired hurt 0

J P Crawley b Cary 7

*N Hussain not out 93

G P Thorpe c Cary b Nicholson 42

M R Ramprakash not out 42

Extras (b1, lb1, nb5) 7

Total (for 2, 69 overs) 191

Fall: 1-16, 2-92.

To bat: W K Hegg, D G Cork, R D B Croft, D Gough, A R C Fraser, A D Mullally.

Bowling: Nicholson 19-10-40-1; Cary 15-3-35-1; Jurgensen 11-1-35-0; Harvey 10-1-37-0; Oldroyd 12-3-31-0; Katich 2-0-11-0.

Umpires: D Harper and T Prue.