CRICKET : England taught a lesson

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England 211-5 President's XI 215-5 President's XI win by five wickets

Mike Atherton kicked off his own tour with a second ball duck as England slumped to a disappointing five-wicket defeat here yesterday.

Any illusions England might have had about the strength of Zimbabwean cricket were soon dispelled against a team missing their top three players: Heath Streak, Dave Houghton and Paul Strang.

England were beaten with 4.1 overs to spare but David Lloyd, the England coach, said: "We will see all these players again later in the tour - all of them.

"This was always going to be a difficult game for us, and sadly we weren't up to it. It's inconvenient to lose, of course, but it's not dreadfully serious and no-one's dead. Defeat like this just makes us more determined to get stuck into this lot.

"We were definitely ring-rusty today. We have not played any cricket since September and we were meeting a side who are match-fit and on their own ground "

Lloyd was critical of England's bowling - although Alan Mullally and Robert Croft emerged with credit -and Phil Tufnell recovered well from having 38 runs taken from his first four overs of the tour.

Three of Dannie Erasmus' four sixes came off Tufnell in that spell and the left-hander, one of only two non-Test players in the President's XI, hit 67 from 60 balls to make England's 211 for 5 look as inadequate as it had first seemed on a pitch getting better and better as it baked under a fierce sun.

Andy Caddick's first over included two boundaries and two wides. There were 16 in all in the President's XI innings, nine of them by Caddick.

Lloyd was sympathetic to Caddick who played having had only a short practice on Friday because of illness earlier in the week.

"He's struggling and he's a weak guy at the moment," Lloyd said. "But you still have to put the ball in the right place."

Lloyd added that England had learned another good early lesson from the game - that the most must be made of the first hour or so of play at Zimbabwe's main Test ground.

England play a four-day match, starting tomorrow, the second Test and two one-day internationals at the Harare Sports Club and Lloyd said: "Eddo Brandes showed this morning, when he bowled magnificently and removed our first three batsmen, just what you have to do here.

"History shows that usually one or two batsmen are nipped out early on at this ground.

"We were guilty of not putting the ball in the right place enough, but that's especially important if you are bowling first which they were today after winning the toss."

Brandes whipped out Nick Knight, Atherton and Graham Thorpe in a new ball burst of 3 for 5 in 13 balls but Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain weathered this early storm and, accelerating the innings superbly, added 133 in 33 overs for the fourth wicket.

Stewart was impressive in making 105, and his second 50 took him just 36 balls, with a burst of hitting including two sixes and five fours. Hussain's application brought him 50.

Zimbabwe's Test captain Alistair Campbell will be pleased to have scored 45 himself, in his first meeting with England - and the Zimbabwean players were clearly pumped up as they sought to make the most of an early opportunity to embarrass England following Saturday's opening fixture in Harare South.

The Districts XI had reached 198 for 9 after 45.3 overs before a prolonged downpour that saw more than two inches of rain fall in an hour caused the game to be abandoned.

The tourists bowlers had struggled then as well with Chris Silverwood showing his nerves on making his first appearance for England. After the game Lloyd showed him a video of his performance. "He could see that his follow-through, for instance, was damn near non-existent," the England coach said.

One day; President's XI won toss

ENGLAND

N V Knight c G W Flower b Brandes 7

A J Stewart c A Flower b Rennie 105

*M A Atherton c Strang b Brandes 0

G P Thorpe b Brandes 1

N Hussain c G W Flower b G J Whittall 50

R C Irani not out 14

R C Russell not out 8

Extras (lb9, w12, nb5) 26

Total (for 5, 50 overs) 211

Fall: 1-15, 2-15, 3-24, 4-157, 5-194.

Did not bat: R D B Croft, A R Caddick, P C R Tufnell, A D Mullally.

Bowling: Brandes 10-0-42-3; Rennie 10-1-40-1; G J Whittall 10-1-50-1; Strang 10-0-31-0; A R Whittall 3-0-12-0; G W Flower 4-0-13-0; Evans 3- 0-14-0.

PRESIDENT'S XI

K J Davies run out 5

G W Flower c Caddick b Irani 23

D N Erasmus c Thorpe b Croft 67

*A D R Campbell c Thorpe b Caddick 45

A Flower b Croft 4

G J Whittall not out 36

C N Evans not out 17

Extras (lb2, w16) 18

Total (for 5, 45.5 overs) 215

Fall: 1-13, 2-24, 3-50, 4-126, 5-194.

Did not bat: J A Rennie, E O Brandes, B C Strang, A R Whittall.

Bowling: Mullally 10-4-18-0; Caddick 7.5-0-53-1; Irani 6-0-40-1; Croft 10-2-29-2; Tufnell 10-0-59-0; Thorpe 2-0-14-0.

Umpires: I Robinson and K Barber.

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