Cricket: Fraser's journey in haste wasted

Second Test: Replacement for injured Tudor looks for silver lining after 400-mile round trip in England's cause
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The Independent Online
THE HOUSES of Tudor and Fraser were a mite troubled yesterday. Alex Tudor was forced to pull out of the England team for the second Test because of a niggling knee problem. Angus Fraser, meanwhile, summoned as a replacement, made a near 400-mile round trip for nothing.

Tudor, the Surrey fast bowler, was sent for a pre-arranged scan on the offending joint having bowled with no apparent discomfort in the nets during pre-match practice in the nets. "I've had this niggle for a few weeks in my left knee," explained Tudor, who bowled 23 overs in Championship leaders Surrey's win last weekend over Hampshire at Guildford. "I had a bowl in the nets [on Wednesday] and felt it.

"With Dean Headley being here it was sensible to follow the advice of the specialist to rest it. I had a scan and that's what they told me after that - to rest. David Graveney [the chairman of selectors] has always advised me to be honest with regard to my fitness and that is what happened here."

What happened once that decision was taken was that England put in a call late on Wednesday to the Middlesex seamer Fraser, asking him to travel up to Lord's from Taunton where he was involved in the Championship match against Somerset and was the nightwatchman on an unbeaten 12.

He was unable to pick up his kit from the locked County Ground until yesterday morning at around 7.00, and having done so he headed east. At around 10.15am, as he ran up against a traffic jam at the Hogarth roundabout on the A4 in Chiswick, west London, (within a 20-minute drive of St John's Wood and Lord's) Fraser received a call from the England management saying that everyone had come through the warm-up session unscathed, so his services would not be needed after all. By the time he got back to the West Country, he had been retired out on his overnight score.

Stoically, Fraser said: "The position was explained to me. The only frustration lay in the fact that I could not start making the journey to London until the morning. The positive thing is that it confirms I am still in the frame so far as England are concerned."

But quite where it leaves Chris Silverwood, the Yorkshire fast bowler, is not so clear. He was in the England XIII for the first Test, so he could quite legitimately regard himself as next in line in the event of anyone pulling out. He, though, was up in Scarborough, doing the business for his county. Even if Scarborough was felt to be a long drive, Tudor's problem was known about on Wednesday afternoon.

Graveney explained: "My first thought was to call up Chris. I talked it through with Martyn Moxon [Yorkshire's director of cricket] and we talked about the logistical thing, then I referred it to Nasser Hussain and Graham Gooch and we looked at the options available.

"In the end, although Chris was my first choice, you are talking about a logistical arrangement with someone playing at Scarborough, having to get him to Teesside airport, to fly down to here. He had also spent two days in the field, so even if we could have got him here he would not have been in the finest of health."

Of more pressing concern was England's unhappy performance with the bat. "I thought New Zealand bowled very well," said Graveney, "but it should not be clouded or diluted, our batting performance was very disappointing. I think it is now something like twice in the last 15 Tests that we have scored more than 300. We just have to hope that tomorrow we get a little bit over 200 and see it goes."

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