Cricket / First Test: Decisive DeFreitas derails New Zealand: All-rounder's performance undermines tourists' resistance and puts England on verge of an innings victory

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New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .251 and 184-7

England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .567-8 dec

RAYMOND Illingworth has always been known as a canny old bird, even on the rare occasions he did not quite deserve to be. Many years ago, when he was captain of a Leicestershire side about to be trounced in a Sunday League game, he whistled up Jack Birkenshaw's off spin with the words: 'Might as well lob 'em up, Jack, t'game's buggered.' Birky took 4 for 6, Leicestershire won, and the morning paper headlines trumpeted: 'Wily Old Fox Does It Again.'

And sure enough, he has done it again. Nothing could be wilier when riding in to single-handedly rescue English cricket than orchestrating it to coincide with the visit of this New Zealand team, whose pre-series billing as having all the resilience of a straw boater in a hurricane has turned out to be undeserved flattery.

New Zealand have almost nothing to offer, and it has scarcely mattered whether this England team were hand-picked by a new chairman armed with half a century of cricketing nous, or an innebriate from a sponsors' tent armed with a pin and the Nottingham telephone directory.

England are thus set for their first Test victory by an innings since they met the same opposition in Christchurch on the 1991-92 tour, since when England have themselves experienced this indignity five times - and only some belated bottom-order resistance prevented England from winning a Test in under four days for the first time since Melbourne 1986.

Definitive judgements on a brave new dawn (and Illingworth does not have to be remotely canny to recognise this himself) will have to wait until England run into something resembling serious opposition, which will presumably coincide with South Africa's visit for the second half of the summer. As for the rest of the first half, prospective spectators at Lord's and Old Trafford might do well to bring along a good book and a knitting pattern.

England did not even have to play especially urgently on Saturday, and it is a judgement in itself when a bloke who has scored 210 can be said to have missed out. Graham Gooch's innings was also remarkable for being perceived by some as hogging the crease at the expense of younger blood, although this is presumably based on the dangerous assumption that Gooch himself will not go on playing until a birthday telegram from the reigning monarch drops through his letterbox.

In terms of being under threat from the likes of Graham Thorpe and John Crawley, Graeme Hick and Robin Smith are on shorter- term leases than Gooch is at the moment. Hick's brief innings did not even enhance his one undisputed reputation - a ruthless murderer of mediocre bowling - while Smith's 78 was more impressive in terms of runs than how he made them.

However, notwithstanding Craig White's emergence from a black hole in outer space (or Yorkshire, which has amounted to pretty much the same thing in recent years) the Illingworth succession is not all about new brooms, and Phillip DeFreitas has all but worn away the bristles in the 34 Tests since his debut eight years ago.

England's perception of DeFreitas as a potential Test all-rounder had before this game crystallised in averages of 33 and 12, which unfortunately related to ball and bat rather than the other way around. Here, though, he has performed with an intelligence that has not always been apparent, with seven wickets in the game and only his second half-century in 51 sorties to the crease.

Yesterday's effort, in which he took full advantage of some unmitigated dross from the right-arm medium of Dion Nash, came while England were extending their innings 45 minutes into the fourth morning, and establishing a lead of 265 before declaring. Caution is not easy to shake off when you have grown accustomed to life in the trenches.

However, faced with a 316- run deficit, New Zealand set off as though this was just another Sunday league afternoon bash and had rattled up 50 in eight overs (mostly courtesy of Devon Malcolm's re- aquaintance with the spray gun) before England began chipping away at their resistance.

DeFreitas began it, with an lbw decision against Blair Hartland, and shortly after lunch, during a period in which Peter Such and Angus Fraser sent down eight consecutive maidens, New Zealand lost two more wickets in two deliveries. Ken Rutherford was caught at silly point off bat and pad - a fine catch given that Mike Atherton was initially taking evasive action - and Bryan Young was caught behind to a ball that moved just a touch off the seam.

Hick, brought on for the left-hander, then got enough spin for Stephen Fleming's outside edge to be poached by White, whose dive across Atherton at second slip was perhaps intended to remind his captain that he had not yet had a bowl. Soon after, though, it was long odds against him getting a trundle at all, as Martin Crowe's misjudgement to a ball from DeFreitas precipitated a decline to 147 for 7.

However, Adam Parore and Matthew Hart then dug in for 70 minutes until the scheduled close, and if they were clearly bewildered by the umpires then granting England's claim for the extra half-hour, they hung on through that as well. However, with the new ball due this morning, another half-hour may be enough.

TRENT BRIDGE SCOREBOARD

(Fourth day: New Zealand won toss)

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings 251 (S P Fleming 54, P A J DeFreitas 4-94).

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 516 for 6)

S J Rhodes c Thomson b Nash. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

(170 min, 140 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes)

P A J DeFreitas not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51

(89 min, 59 balls, 7 fours)

A R C Fraser c Fleming b Larsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

(21 min, 13 balls, 1 four)

Extras (lb9 w6 nb10). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

Total (for 8 dec, 691 min, 174.4 overs). . . . . . . . . . .567

Fall (cont): 7-528 (Rhodes), 8-567 (Fraser).

Did not bat: P M Such, D E Malcolm.

Bowling: Davis 21-0-93-1 (nb14 w2) (5-0-21-1, 5-0-21-0, 5-0-26-0, 6-0-25-0); Nash 36-5-153-2 (nb3 w1) (3-0-12-0, 6-1-24-0, 7-1-25-0, 5-1-27-1, 5-2-15-0, 6-0-28-0, 4-0-22-1); Larsen 44.4-11- 116-2 (4-0-15-0, 3-0-16-0, 8-4-11-0, 11-4-15-1, 5-0- 19-0, 9-2-22-0, 4.4-1-18-1); Hart 35-7-123-1 (2-1- 6-0, 5-0-26-0, 6-1-32-0, 4-0-13-0, 1-0-2-0, 16-5- 37-1, 1-0-7-0); Thomson 38-6-73-1 (12-1-28-0, 2-0-4-0, 23-5-38-1, 1-0-3-0).

Progress (fourth day): 550: 680 min, 171.5 overs. Innings closed: 11.44am.

DeFreitas' 50: 88 min, 58 balls, 7 fours.

NEW ZEALAND - Second Innings

B R Hartland lbw b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

(46 min, 31 balls, 3 fours)

B A Young c Rhodes b Fraser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

(114 min, 87 balls, 10 fours)

* K R Rutherford c Atherton b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

(65 min, 57 balls, 2 fours)

M D Crowe lbw b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

(98 min, 73 balls, 4 fours)

S P Fleming c White b Hick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

(57 min, 53 balls, 1 four)

S A Thomson c White b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

(43 min, 37 balls, 1 four)

A C Parore not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

(126 min, 94 balls, 2 fours)

G R Larsen c Stewart b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

(18 min, 14 balls)

M N Hart not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

(99 min, 88 balls, 1 four)

Extras (nb13). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

Total (for 7, 340 min, 87 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .184

Fall: 1-59 (Hartland), 2-95 (Rutherford), 3-95 (Young), 4-122 (Fleming), 5-141 (Crowe), 6-141 (Thomson), 7-147 (Larsen).

Bowling: Malcolm 5-1-26-0 (3-0-25-0, 2-1-1- 0), Fraser 15-6-35-1 (nb1) (3-0-16-0, 8-5-9-1, 4- 1-10-0); DeFreitas 18-3-63-3 (nb12) (8-0-42-1, 7-2-15-2, 3-1-6-0); Such 32-12-48-2 (15-5-20-1, 5-3-4-0, 10-3-18-1, 2-1-6-0); Hick 14-6-12-1 (6- 3-7-1, 3-1-2-0, 4-2-2-0, 1-0-1-0); White 3-3-0-0 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 37 min, 8.3 overs. Lunch: 73-1 (Young 39, Rutherford 9) 16 overs. 100: 138 min, 33.2 overs. Tea: 123-4 (Crowe 17, Thomson 0) 48 overs. 150: 246 mins, 61.5 overs.

Young's 50: 87 min, 68 balls, 10 fours.

Umpires: H D Bird, S A Bucknor, M J Kitchen (TV replays).

Match referee: C H Lloyd.

TODAY: Play starts 11.0.

SECOND TEST: 16 to 20 June (Lord's).

THIRD TEST: 30 June to 5 July (Old Trafford).

(Photograph omitted)

Spinners' control, page 30

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