Cricket: Hick wastes what may be last chance

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TWO PLAYERS who will not have enjoyed the extraordinary fourth day at Headingley were Graeme Hick and Ian Salisbury, both of whom had returned to the England colours for the Trent Bridge Test match. Both had earned their recalls by having excellent seasons with their counties, and were reported to be changed men.

Neither gave any evidence of this in the fourth Test, but both were given the benefit of the doubt by the selectors and kept their places for Headingley. Graham Thorpe's back injury had originally made room for Hick, while Salisbury's leg spin has been a part of the selectors' long-term plans for the tour of Australia.

After his disappointing first innings here, in the second Hick had to try and show the selectors that he now has the tough mental discipline needed to be successful at this level. It was difficult for him now coming in at No 7, but Nasser Hussain was still batting and it was essential to England that Hick should stay with him and see the lead stretch past 250 at the very least.

The nightwatchman Salisbury was out in the first over and at once Shaun Pollock produced a wicked bouncer which followed Hick. His first movement, which was half forward, left him with nowhere to go, and he fended the ball away from in front of his face. It could have gone anywhere. As it happened, it dropped to safety on the leg side.

Hick then played a mildly despairing slash in Pollock's next over, which brought him a single to third man and, more significantly, down to the other end to face Allan Donald. The first ball of the over was his slower ball, which was well wide of off-stump, and Hick went for it without too much footwork and gave Gary Kirsten an easy catch at wide mid-off.

It had been an innings which had confirmed all that has ever been known about Hick at this level and, however many runs he now scores for Worcestershire, the selectors will surely not want to risk him again.

In South Africa's first innings, Salisbury was allowed three overs of leg spin which cost eight runs and proved nothing. In the second, it looked when South Africa were 27 for 5 as if he would not have a part to play at all but, as Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan began to build their stand, Salisbury's leg spin came into the equation.

McMillan is not a good player of spin bowling, as his record in the sub- continent makes plain. When the seam bowlers could not find their way through, Salisbury was the only option left. Stewart turned to him just before tea and his first ball spun past Rhodes' forward stroke. But that was as good as it got.

His eight overs were littered with bad balls and they cost 34 runs and included five fours and one six. And he had to be taken off. Leopards do not often change their spots and if Salisbury continues to play a part in the plans for Australia, it will be yet another major triumph for hope over experience.