CRICKET: England win at last but lose White to injury

United Arab Emirates 136 England 140-2 (England win by eight wickets
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reports from Peshawar

United Arab Emirates 136 England 140-2 (England win by eight wickets)

England's World Cup campaign was dealt a harsh blow in Peshawar yesterday when the all-rounder Craig White pulled an inter-costal muscle on his left side while bowling. It is an injury that can take up to eight weeks to heal. That means the unlucky White, who has a history of misfortune, will take no further part in the competition, and is to be flown home later in the week.

It was a cruel twist to an otherwise resounding win over the United Arab Emirates. Far from savouring their first points, however, England had to wait until White had been seen by a doctor, and the injury confirmed, before they were given the go-ahead by the technical committee - a body chaired by Sunil Gavaskar - to send for a replacement.

As England have no replacement all-rounder on standby (only one batsman and one bowler are officially in a state of readiness), Illingworth confirmed it would be someone from the original shortlist of 18 players first named back in January just before the Cape Town Test.

That means either Dermot Reeve or Mike Watkinson, and an announcement is expected first thing this morning. With Illingworth reportedly unhappy about some of the out-of-school comments Reeve has made in the newspapers after South Africa, Watkinson may well be favourite, particularly as he can turn his hand to both seam and spin, a useful facility to have on these pitches.

Whoever it is, they will surely find it difficult not to feel sympathy for White, who at last seemed to be gaining the confidence that had so far held his undeniable talents in check. "I felt he could have had a good World Cup," his captain, Mike Atherton, said after the awards ceremony. "He's a brilliant fielder and he bowls and bats, which is ideal for this competition."

Serious though it is, White's injury was not the only affliction an England player suffered on the field. Neil Smith, who had already bowled well, taking 3 for 29 with his flighted off-spinners, vomited twice out on the field before retiring ill, after opening the batting with Alec Stewart.

Illingworth, never one to mince his words at the best of times, was in doubt as to the cause of Smith's distress. "He had a pizza last night," the England chairman said. "Now it's on the field out there."

It was, as Atherton later conceded, all part and parcel of touring the subcontinent. In future Smith, who also won the man of the match award, may do well to remember an old Peshwari proverb which states that: "Only in Rome do you do what the Romans do."

The fact that misfortune was the talking point of the day spoke volumes about the standard of Emirates cricket and the inevitability of the result. Batting first - a bold move by underdogs whose batting is meant to be far stronger than their bowling - after winning the toss, they scored just 136. Only Mazhar Hussain, with 33, and Johanne Samarasekera, with 29, made the batting look anything other than a grim fight for survival.

Phillip DeFreitas was the pick of England's seam bowlers, celebrating his 30th birthday with a miserly 2 for 16, removing both openers with the new ball. Although none of the seamers ended with embarrassing figures, both Cork and Gough were treated roughly by Hussain, who flicked and drove them for several fours before be being bowled by Smith, whipping across the line.

More worrying for England than the odd half-volley, is that catches are still going down, and Smith and Stewart both spilled chances that teams like Australia and South Africa expect to hold.

When England batted, the openers retorted with a rapid fifty partnership, Stewart's silky touch combining well with Smith's more robust thumps over the infield, a role he fills with distinction for Warwickshire.

But no sooner had Stewart gone, casually clipping the seamer Arshad Laiq to Ganesh Mylvaganam at midwicket, than Smith was forced to retire. It all meant that England had to virtually start again as Atherton and Graham Thorpe cautiously played themselves in. Atherton was bowled, playing all round a straight ball from the left-arm spinner, Syed Azhar Saeed, but it proved a minor hiccup as Thorpe and Fairbrother saw England home with 15 overs to spare. (United Arab Emirates won toss)


Azhar Saeed lbw b DeFreitas 9

(47 min, 36 balls, 1 four)

Ganesh Mylvaganam c Fairbrother bDeFreitas 0

(9 min, 6 balls)

Mazhar Hussain b Smith 33

(88 min, 59 balls, 6 fours)

Vijay Mehra c Russell b Smith 1

(46 min, 34 balls)

Mohammad Aslam b Gough 23

(40 min, 47 balls, 1 four)

Arshad Laiq b Smith 0

(6 min, 6 balls)

Salim Raza b Cork 10

(44 min, 31 balls)

J A Samarasekera run out (Russell) 29

(54 min, 39 balls, 3 fours)

*Sultan Zarawani b Cork 2

(10 min, 8 balls)

Shaukat Dukanwala lbw b Illingworth 15

(26 min, 21 balls, 1 four)

Imtiaz Abbasi not out 1

(4 min, 5 balls)

Extras (b4 lb4 w4 nb1) 13

Total (193 min, 48.3 overs) 136

Fall: 1-3 (Ganesh Mylvaganam), 2-32 (Azhar Saeed), 3-48 (Vijay Mehra), 4-49 (Mazhar Hussain), 5-49 (Arshad Laiq), 6-80 (Mohammad Aslam), 7-88 (Salim Raza), 8-100 (Sultan Zarawani), 9-135 (Shaukat Dukanwala).

Bowling: Cork 10-1-33-2 (w2) (6-0-23-0, 4-1-10-2); DeFreitas 9.3-3-16-2 (nb1 w2) (8-3-11-2, 1.3-0-5-0); Gough 8-3-23-1 (5-2-10-0, 3-1-13-1); White 1.3- 1-2-0 (one spell); Smith 9.3-2-29-3 (7.3-2-16-3, 2-0-13-0); Illingworth 10-2-25-1 (8-2-19-0, 2-0-6-1).

Progress: 50: 106 min, 153 balls. 100: 161 min, 247 balls.


A J Stewart c Ganesh Mylvaganam b Laiq 23

(57 min, 52 balls, 3 fours)

N M K Smith retired ill 27

(63 min, 31 balls, 3 fours)

G P Thorpe not out 44

(83 min, 66 balls, 5 fours)

*M A Atherton b Azhar Saeed 20

(52 min, 40 balls, 1 four)

N H Fairbrother not out 12

(24 min, 29 balls, 1 four)

Extras (b4 lb2 w2 nb6) 14

Total (for 2, 141 min, 35 overs) 140

Fall: 1-52 (Stewart), 2-109 (Atherton).

Did not bat: R C Russell, C White, D G Cork, P A J DeFreitas, D Gough, R K Illingworth.

Bowling: Samarasekera 7-1-35-0 (nb3 w1); Arshad Laiq 7-0-25-1 (nb5); Salim Raza 5-1-20-0; Azhar Saeed 10-1-26-1 (w1); Sultan Zarawani 6-0-28- 0 (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 54 min, 75 balls. 100: 108 min, 155 balls.

Note: Smith retired ill at 57-1 after 12.3 overs.

Umpires: B C Cooray (Sri Lanka) and V K Ramaswamy (India).

Man of the match: N M K Smith.