Cricket: Fraser's lost authority: Henry Blofeld on the match that was a watershed for the England bowler

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The Independent Online
FOR the second Test in succession, England's seamers let a good situation slip away because they bowled so badly at a crucial stage. As at Lord's, Phillip DeFreitas was involved, while Angus Fraser played a part, writes Henry Blofeld.

It is sad to watch Fraser bowl nowadays. When you compare him to the man who bowled so splendidly until the middle of the 1990- 91 tour of Australia, there is an apparently irreconcilable diference.

Before the hip injury which kept him out of the game for two years, his front foot stamped down from quite a height. This final stride, together with his stature, gave him awkward lift.

Twelve months ago, that same front foot slid across the ground an inch above the grass. Even now it does not get much higher - making that final stamp impossible. As Craig Matthews and Brian McMillan played lovely strokes yesterday, it was time for a special effort from Fraser. But while the mind will have been eager, the body was unable to produce.

That hip injury first laid him low in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne in 1990. On New Year's Day, there was a one-day international in Sydney and the England management decided to play him to see if he would be fit for the Test three days later.

By playing, he was unable to appear in the Test. He took part in the next at Adelaide under an obvious handicap. If he had not been made to play in that one-day international, one can only wonder if the extra few days of rest might not have made the difference.