Cricket: Cork constructs confident case: All-round prospect returns from injury to help Derbyshire rebuild to prosperity as New Zealand border on the prosaic

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Derbyshire 349 for 6 v New Zealand

THE 4-5-1 systems strutting their stuff in the United States may have diverted our attention, but not so much that we will be entirely uninterested in discovering today if Ray Illingworth's much trumpeted

5-1-1-4 formation survives beyond two Test matches. After the close-run affair at Lord's it is clear that the resurrection of the England side is not a trick to be performed quickly, regardless of the magical qualities possessed by the chairman of selectors.

Much of the selectorial discussion should have revolved around the retention of Robin Smith and Graeme Hick in the top five, with Graham Thorpe and John Crawley both sure to be mentioned, not least, in the latter's case, because his class seems not to be in doubt and the third Test is being played on his home ground at Old Trafford. Whether the top five should become six, however, might also have received passing scrutiny.

The search for an all- rounder who can bat at No 6 and also be the third seam bowler has become an understandable obsession. Craig White, still a fledgling, has become the man in possession and while already written off in some quarters, and hardly thrust enthusiastically into the fray by his captain, he was always surely meant to be a long- term proposition. Test cricket is not to be mastered overnight except by the extraordinary, and others have had many more chances.

Still, White has sometimes looked an extremely grey bowler so far and one player who may well vie for the vexatious spot in the future was on view at Derby yesterday. Dominic Cork's season has been ravaged by a knee injury and he was making his first appearance since the Benson and Hedges Cup tie against Worcestershire in May. Playing purely as a batsman in this match he did not disappoint.

He came in at 88 for three after a lovely vignette of an innings by Chris Adams, who made 43 from 35 balls before being excellently caught by Matthew Hart diving to his left in the gully. There was some rebuilding work to be done and Cork, together with Tim O'Gorman, did it attractively. He strikes the ball with confident certainty, and while his shots square on the off and through the covers were especially noticeable, he produced one splendidly executed pull for four as the pair put on 105 for the fourth wicket in 35 overs. Now, of course, he has to bowl again.

Two of Derbyshire's still- rich seam of seam were rested from the match. Phillip DeFreitas, a hero once more, sat it out along with Devon Malcolm. There was some suggestion that Malcolm, who bowled badly on an unresponsive pitch in the first Test and was left out at Lord's when he might have been included, would have been better turning his arm over here, if only gently.

Without them the proceedings were not unpleasant, though less Tetley Bitter Challenge than knees-up. Having been dismissed as the worst tourists since Thomas Cooke set up shop the New Zealanders are now being hailed as gritty, resilient Kiwis developing a fine team for the future. Yesterday, probably not firing on all cylinders, they were nearer the former.

After Dion Nash, their hero, achieved some early away movement, their bowling varied largely from the unthreatening to the innocuous and was complimented by some dire fielding.

O'Gorman, a beneficiary of the second trait when dropped at slip before scoring, crafted a diligent century, rarely missing a bad ball. His second in seven days, it came in 292 minutes from 221 balls and included 19 fours, and then everybody was probably glad to get home for some four-five-one.

The first day of South Africa's match against Kent was abandoned after overnight rain left the Canterbury pitch unfit for play.