Cricket: DeFreitas becomes Test tough guy

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The Independent Online
THROUGHOUT the series against New Zealand, Phillip DeFreitas will have been watched with increasing interest and probably disbelief in some quarters. Suddenly, he has begun to bowl with the consistency which has always eluded him and for almost the first time his batting has begun to count at the top level.

DeFreitas's ability has never been in doubt. His application has often been, as has the thinking behind it. Now, after years of unrestful participation with Leicestershire and Lancashire, his third county, Derbyshire, is proving an ideal home and England are reaping the rewards of his contentment.

Twenty one wickets at 21.47 runs apiece in the three-match Test series are impressive figures by any standards and will gain him further employment in an England shirt for some time to come. He and Darren Gough may easily be just the pair of fast bowlers England have been looking for.

DeFreitas's thoughtful dismissal of Martin Crowe on the last day was typical of the bowler he has become. Earlier in the over, yet another peerless cover drive by Crowe might once have broken DeFreitas's heart. Maybe he is now mentally tougher than he used to be for, two balls later, he produced the perfect response.

It was an almost identical delivery except that it was just a fraction wider and a mite shorter. Crowe, still bubbling with confidence after that first cover drive, played a similar stroke. This time, late swing moved the ball away from the bat and it found the edge on its way into Graeme Hick's safe hands at second slip.

It was a fine piece of bowling to bring to an end another brilliant innings by Crowe, who has said that this would be his last Test in England. Let's hope he has second thoughts.