Cricket: Hick samples Maori challenge: England batsman shows best and worst sides

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Worcestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .265-4

New Zealand

THREE of the wise men came to New Road yesterday and were presented with a puzzle even more complex than Worcester's one-way system. By their presence, Ray Illingworth, Brian Bolus and Keith Fletcher proved they could unravel the latter. Making sense of Graeme Hick's innings against the tourists may be more difficult.

Hick made 67 off 90 balls, hitting 13 imperious fours and a streaky one. For most of the innings, he batted with the sleek destructiveness that built his reputation, but occasionally there were glimpses of the weakness that threatens to destroy it. They all came against Heath Davis, the half-Maori pace bowler New Zealand have gambled on to bolster a weak attack that may now lose Simon Doull with a shouder injury. Davis is very quick and raw.

Hick came to the crease in the middle of Davis's opening nine-ball, three-hour over. Interrupted by heavy rain after two legal deliveries and two no- balls, Davis returned to have Tim Curtis caught behind before producing another no-ball.

In the next over, he beat Hick three times. His second spell saw Hick being dropped, off another no-ball, hooking to square-leg. It was only later, after Hick had been caught behind cutting at Matthew Hart, that Davis produced those lifters into the body that selectors want to see Hick conquer.

(Photograph omitted)