Cricket: Cork now raring to go after `off game'

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The Independent Online
Dominic Cork has dismissed rumours circulating in recent weeks that he is out of sorts both physically and mentally, claiming his only problem was that he had an "off game" in Wellington.

The England bowler had a slight back problem before the first Test in Auckland, missed the first leg of this winter's tour in Zimbabwe because of personal problems at home, and in England's second Test victory at the Basin Reserve he took only one wicket. So far, in the two Tests against the Kiwis, Cork only has five wickets to his name at an average of 43.

In Wellington, his bowling looked lethargic at times, although it improved towards the end of the match.

Cork said: "I think it's more a case of not getting it quite right on the day. Every bowler goes through a patch where the ball just misses an edge or an lbw is not given. Hopefully it will be my turn in the next Test, but Darren Gough and Andy Caddick bowled brilliantly and got the wickets in Wellington. As long as England win then having an off game is fine by me!"

With New Zealand 1-0 down, England officials are expecting to see far more grass than usual left on the pitch, so although England want to keep the same side, including both spinners, there may be a case for a fourth seamer.

At the instigation of avid football fan, Alec Stewart, and readily agreed to by coach David Lloyd, England's practice session in Christchurch has been scheduled to start late in the morning so the players can watch England's World Cup match against Italy live on satellite television.

Lloyd said no one in the squad would make the mistake of relaxing their grip on New Zealand now a 1-0 lead has been established in the three-Test series.

Chris Silverwood, the 21-year-old Yorkshire fast bowler, has been ruled out of contention for the Test. He split the webbing between his right thumb and forefinger in a fielding practice accident two days before the second Test. Craig White or Alan Mullally could play in place of one of England's spinners if there is a green top.

New Zealand have dropped batsman Adam Parore and called up the uncapped Matthew Horne. Parore has been out of form, producing scores of 6, 33, 4 and 15 in the first two Tests against England. Horne, 26, has played two matches against England on its tour, including scoring 64 for New Zealand A at Wanganui.