Cricket: Caddick plays the good tourist

England on tour: Rejuvenated paceman provides brightest hopes as Butcher fails again
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The Independent Online
ANDREW CADDICK provided compelling evidence of his growing stature as an England bowler yesterday, but concerns increased about the worrying early-tour form of Mark Butcher at Newlands.

With seam resources depleted by the absence of Darren Gough and Dean Headley, Caddick kept up his fine form since coming back into the fold against his native New Zealand, claiming 5 for 53 against a Combined Western Province/Boland XI.

His display was a welcome boost to the management but Butcher's dismissal for a duck, as England replied to the Combined XI's 358 for 9 declared, will reopen the debate about his suitability to open in the Tests.

England may point to his disappointing form prior to last winter's Ashes as evidence that he can rise to the big occasion. The Surrey left-hander scored 116 at Brisbane after nine runs in five innings leading up to the First Test. But since that highlight he has 229 in 15 innings, averaging 15.27. He reached 40 only once and failed to reach double figures seven times.

With 21 runs to his credit in two innings, he lasted only 16 minutes and 13 balls before the promising left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby uprooted his off-stump. Captain Nasser Hussain also fell cheaply, hooking Roger Telemachus straight to Willoughby in the deep for nine, to leave his side in some trouble at 14 for 2 when the batsmen needed time at the crease.

Thankfully, Michael Atherton and Michael Vaughan provided the necessary discipline and application, forging an unbroken, 64-run stand spanning 31 overs to leave England on 78 for 2 at the close of the second day.

If Butcher's failure was the talking point, Caddick was easily the pick of the attack when the Combined XI resumed on 247 for 5, seeking to frustrate the tourists as long as possible.

With 3 for 40 overnight, he claimed two of the four wickets to fall before the declaration, and a deserved rest finally came after 33.2 overs in the hot sun.

His growing importance to England marks a major transformation in fortune after he was overlooked throughout Alec Stewart's reign as captain, despite claiming 105 first-class wickets at an average of 19.82.

He was at home focusing on his benefit while England cried out for a bowler of his quality in Australia, but instead of looking back resentfully, he is intent on making the most of the coming series against South Africa.

"On a flat wicket I thought I bowled very well and got plenty of work in my legs," said Caddick, who was the Man of the Series last summer. "I thrive on the work. I love bowling lots of overs in first-class cricket.

"I'm not concentrating on why I was dropped in the past. I want to be a permanent fixture in the side and put these doubts of being a bad tourist behind me. I'm sure I am going to have a good series. I've never felt better at the start of a tour."

Caddick broke through first, nightwatchman Claude Henderson edging to Atherton at first slip in the 15th over after the hosts had added 13 in the first hour. Alan Mullally ended Kenny Jackson's lengthy innings six overs later, knocking back his leg stump after he had made 80, with a six and six fours, in two minutes short of five hours.

But they were frustrated in their hopes of knocking over the lower order quickly, Steve Palframan making 74 off 99 balls and adding a crucial 54 in 14 overs with Telemachus before Caddick trapped him leg before.

England applauded Caddick off the field, in contrast to his last tour of the West Indies two winters ago, when he was not regarded as an integral part of the team. "This is the best tour I've been on," he added. "They are a great bunch of guys, and that shows in the field. I've always thought in the past that I have been slightly mis- managed but I have a good relationship with Nasser and we respect one another."