Cricket: Hick stalls while Thorpe races away

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The Independent Online
SOON after lunch, two similar incidents took place with vastly differing results. First, Graeme Hick faced Fanie de Villiers and received a rare half-volley which he could not resist. It was wide of the off-stump and swinging away.

Hick drove away with his bat away from his body, was seemingly undone by the swing, the ball found the edge and was brilliantly caught by Brian McMillan in the slips.

Minutes later Graham Thorpe faced De Villiers and after hooking him for four, he received one which was comfortably short of half-volley length, pitching well wide of the off-stump and going further away from the bat with the angle of delivery.

Thorpe went far enough forward and across to ensure his weight was going with the stroke and threw his bat at the ball, hitting it on the rise after it had bounced, and it fairly raced away to the cover boundary. It was the sort of stroke which would have disturbed any bowler.

Thorpe followed it with a series of equally magnificent strokes which let the bowlers know that they had a fight on their hands. Thorpe showed that when a batsman is prepared to counter-attack and the bowlers find their authority challenged, their control starts to wander.

Thorpe's drive off was a stroke borne of confidence, Hick's more tentative stroke resulted from a lack of that commodity. It was a stroke which reflected the doubts that have never been far away from Hick. His instinct told him to go for the stroke but by the time the bat came to hit the ball it was being hampered by second thoughts.

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