Cricket: Gough salutes a `great captain'

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One accusation you cannot make against the Barmy Army is that they only sing when England are winning. The travelling supporters have grown hoarse through embarrassing defeats, desperate fightbacks and anticlimactic near misses in only two years as an overseas platoon.

Since Adelaide in 1995, they have come through two tours of duty in Africa with only meagre rations to shout about. Yesterday, they got an overdue Christmas present, hence their own rendition of Jingle Bells. "Oh, what fun it is to see England win away," they harmonised.

The singing could also get under way in the England dressing-room half an hour after lunch with only the third overseas victory of Mike Atherton's stewardship. Skinner and Baddiel's Three Lions rang out as Atherton gave his victory press conference.

Whatever his body language, take a cross-section of the Lancastrian and you would doubtless find three lions and a crown. He may relinquish, or be relieved, of his job either during or prior to this summer's Ashes series, but Atherton was not about to make personal capital out of his team's win.

To promptings encouraging him to do so, Atherton displayed a straighter bat than he has shown in the middle at certain times this winter. "I am just happy to have won," he said. "Every Test win is a great moment for all different reasons. Obviously, we are a bit relieved because we have got very close a couple of times this winter.

"It was nice to finish it off and I am very pleased for the players. I think they have worked hard at the long form of the game and played some good cricket over the winter. They deserved to get a victory. Sooner or later, if you keep performing well, you will win. If you play consistently well, you will win more than you lose.

"All we talked about for the last two days was doing the basics right with the ball and upping our intensity and our energy in the field. I thought our out-cricket was top class. We bowled a good line and length all the time, backed up by some good fielding. There were some good catches taken and the pressure was always on the batsmen."

Nine-wicket Darren Gough was quick to give an appreciation of his captain. "Everybody respects Mike in the dressing- room," he said. "He is a great captain, even when he was going through that bad patch he was still the same Mike - encouraging everybody, wanting everybody to do well, supporting everybody, giving everybody confidence. He talked to me on occasions while I was out of the team last summer and that helped my confidence. He is a great captain."

"He can't say anything else while I'm sat here," Atherton replied, before rejoining the party with a note that there was a Test in Christchurch to win, starting on Friday, before anyone should start thinking of the Australians.

For once the message about being patient came from an Australian coach. That particular species may be populating most of the cricket world, but Steve Rixon, in his first season as coach of the bottom-ranked Test team, has one of the harder challenges around. "We know what we want to do. It is just putting it in place," he said.

Rixon had to speak up over the noise from next door and though New Zealand enjoyed such a party only a couple of months ago in Pakistan, that is looking as isolated a celebration as England have managed in recent years. With his batting advisor, Martin Crowe, his priority is to sort out the batting.

"It's the concentration factor. When concentration goes there is a bit of hesitancy and also some anxiety," said Rixon, who has reason to be anxious himself. Ian Smith, the former New Zealand wicketkeeper turned television commentator, said: "Effectively, we have lost two out of two and I don't see that we have gone forward under the current coaching set- up."


New Zealand won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings 124 (D Gough 5-40, A R Caddick 4-45).

ENGLAND - First Innings 383 (G P Thorpe 108, N Hussain 64, J P Crawley 56; S B Doull 5-75).

NEW ZEALAND - Second innings

B A Pocock c Knight b Gough 64

(337 min, 271 balls, 5 fours)

B A Young c Stewart b Tufnell 56

(132 min, 103 balls, 6 fours)

A C Parore lbw b Croft 15

(116 min, 94 balls)

S P Fleming c and b Croft 0

(9 min, 11 balls)

D N Patel lbw b Croft 0

(4 min, 2 balls)

*L K Germon b Gough 11

(59 min, 49 balls)

N J Astle c Stewart b Gough 4

(26 min, 13 balls)

C L Cairns c Knight b Caddick 22

(60 min, 59 balls, 3 fours)

S B Doull c Knight b Gough 0

(2 min, 3 balls)

G I Allott b Caddick 2

(25 min, 15 balls)

D L Vettori not out 2

(14 min, 7 balls)

Extras (b5 lb4 nb6) 15

Total (399 min, 103.2 overs) 191

Fall: 1-89 (Young) 2-125 (Parore) 3-125 (Fleming) 4-125 (Patel) 5-161 (Germon) 6-164 (Pocock) 7-175 (Astle) 8-175 (Doull) 9-182 (Allott) 10-191 (Cairns).

Bowling: Cork 10-1-42-0 (nb2) (4-1-20-0, 4-0-14-0, 2-0-8-0), Caddick 27.2-11-40-2 (6-3-7-0, 5-1-15-0, 5-3-3-0, 11.2-4-15-2), Croft 20-9-19- 3 (nb1) (5-1-6-0 ,15-8-13-3), Gough 23-9-52-4 (4-2-11-0, 8-4-16-0, 2-1- 4-0, 9-2-21-4), Tufnell 23-9-29-1 (nb4) (2-1-3-0, 10-3-11-1, 4-1-4-0, 7-4-11-0).

Progress: Third day: Close: 48-0 (Pocock 13, Young 32) 21 overs. Fourth day: Rain delayed start until 3.13pm. 50: 80 min, 21.2 overs. 100: 165 min, 43.1 overs. Close: 125-4 (Pocock 45, Germon 0) 73 overs. Fifth day: Rain delayed start until 11am. New ball taken: 81 overs, 147-4. 150: 309 min, 82.1 overs. Lunch: 177-8 (Cairns 12, Allott 0) 96 overs. Innings closed: 1.39pm.

Pocock's 50: 297 min, 239 balls, 3 fours.

Young's 50: 116 min, 85 balls, 5 fours.


Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and D B Cowie (NZ). TV replay umpire: E A Watkin. Match referee: P J P Burge.

Man of the match: G P Thorpe. Adjudicator: M P Donnelly.