Cricket: England could do with a bit more of a push from tourists: Mysterious side injury may mean that Gough has to miss the second Texaco Trophy one-day international against New Zealand at Lord's today

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE NEW chairman of selectors is not an easy man to please - as captain of Leicestershire he once harangued the manager of a London hotel into knocking 10 per cent off the entire team bill when he could not get any sausages for breakfast - and England received the message nice and early when Raymond Illingworth recorded a '7 out of 10, could do better' verdict on their opening Texaco Trophy victory at Edgbaston.

This morning at Lord's, however, Illingworth's Test and County Cricket Board employers will be offering up a silent prayer for England not to do too much better, or at least for New Zealand to offer something other than an impersonation of their flightless national bird and sprout some wings.

The cash from the two sold-out one-day internationals is already in the bank, but ticket sales for the Test matches are moving like Friday night traffic on the M25, and while the Lord's marketing department would not be unpatriotic enough to hope for a New Zealand equaliser today, they will be equally keen for the tourists to shed their grey, anonymous image.

Although you might not have guessed it from watching on Thursday, New Zealand are one of the more effective one-day sides, where graft and efficiency is often a match for individual flair, but until they can find some swash and buckle to go with it, they will be bad news at the Test match box office.

In terms of public appeal and their own Test prospects, they can ill afford to be without their one identifiable cutting edge in Danny Morrison, whose pulled hamstring at Edgbaston has ruled him out for 10 days and places him at not much better than an even money bet to make the first Test side at Trent Bridge on Thursday week.

For the moment, though, there is another one-day international to be played here today, and it scarcely seems to matter whether England are playing Australia, New Zealand, or the Stoke Poges 2nd X1 for every seat to be occupied. Hopefully, today's full house crowd will be treated to a better contest than Thursday's.

England's problem of whether to change a winning side may already have been solved for them after Darren Gough suffered a side strain yesterday. The 23-year-old Yorkshireman made a fine first impression at Edgbaston, and he will have made further strides towards becoming a fully recognisable England fast bowler if he now breaks down at the first available opportunity. Gough will have a fitness Test this morning, but the slightest doubt about him will earn another recall for the 28-year-old Phillip DeFreitas, who has been dropped and picked again almost as many times as he has had birthdays.

Gough was the one clear bonus from the first match and although England's selectors have too often picked Test players on the flimsy evidence of one-day performances, Gough's genuine hostility and movement may for once make it a justifiable conclusion.

If Gough does drop out this morning, DeFreitas would certainly improve the one area in which England dipped substantially below Illy's 7 out of 10, the fielding. At the age of 41, Graham Gooch's joints now require regular squirts from door-hinge oil, and there was one high class moment at Edgbaston - when he ran the wrong way down at third man - when his eyesight appeared to have failed as well. However, younger men than Gooch were more of a liability on the day, and England have certainly not forgotten how to drop catches since their return from the Caribbean.

However, the area which left most to be desired on Thursday was the pitch. It was a pretty awful surface for a one-day match, and the one today should be a good deal more batsman (not to mention spectator) friendly. The other factor pertinent to the entertainment quotient is a slightly dodgy weather forecast, in that the only thing more tedious than a one- sided one-day game, is a two-day one-day game.

ENGLAND (v New Zealand, second Texaco Trophy international, today, from): M A Atherton (capt), A J Stewart, R A Smith, G A Gooch, G A Hick, G P Thorpe, D A Reeve, S J Rhodes (wkt), C C Lewis, S D Udal, P A J DeFreitas, A R C Fraser, D Gough.

NEW ZEALAND (from): B A Young, M D Crowe, A C Parore (wkt), K R Rutherford (capt), S P Fleming, S A Thomson, G R Larsen, D J Nash, M N Hart, C Pringle, H T Davis, M J Greatbatch.

Umpires: D R Shepherd, A G T Whitehead and J H Harris (third umpire).

Match referee: C H Lloyd.

Rutherford's regime,

County reports, Scoreboard, page 47