Cricket: Horne makes a positive debut

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The Independent Online
New Zealand 85-2 v England

Putting a side in to bat during a Test match is rarely recommended unless you have a ship to catch. As that was not the case, Michael Atherton's decision must have been based on some last-minute hunch as England took the field this morning with an unchanged team for the first time for 32 Tests.

Atherton had put a side in on five previous occasions, only once winning and three times drawing. It was not a record that looked as if it was about to be improved either after Dominic Cork's abysmal six-over spell with the new ball, which although bringing him the wicket of Bryan Young, cost 31 runs, and included six no-balls.

Under any other circumstance, Young would have been chastised for playing all round a straight ball. However, with Cork so wayward perhaps he was the victim of misforune in that it was about the only straight length ball Cork bowled. Matt Horne took full advantage of Cork with an attractive range of punched drives and clips that calmed any nerves the debutant may have had.

With neither Darren Gough nor Andy Caddick looking particularly menacing, either, Atherton was turned to the off-spin of Robert Croft in the 18th over. Although it was a defensive move, the change brought dividends when Blair Pocock holed out to Atherton as he tried to hit Croft away through mid-wicket.

New Zealand had to make changes after their captain, Lee Germon, failed a fitness test on a groin he had injured in practice. His wicket-keeping role went to Adam Parore, while Stephen Fleming, with no prior experience of captaincy at first-class level, took over the helm.

With the Lancaster Park pitch looking hard and green, and the home side - including an extra seamer, Heath Davis, as well as Horne - looked set to bowl first had they won the toss. Instead, Atherton put them in.

England won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings

B A Young b Cork 11

B A Pocock c Atherton b Croft 22

M J Horne not out 31

*S P Fleming 2

Extras (lb11 nb8) 19

Total (for 2, 28 overs) 85

Fall: 1-14 (Young), 2-78 (Pocock).

To bat: N J Astle, C L Cairns, A C Parore, S B Doull, H T Davis, G I Allott, D L Vettori.

Bowling: Cork 6-1-33-1; Caddick 10-4-13-0; Gough 6-1-16-0; Croft 6-1- 12-1.

ENGLAND: N V Knight, *M A Atherton, A J Stewart, G P Thorpe, N Hussain, J P Crawley, R D B Croft, D G Cork, D Gough A R Caddick, P C R Tufnell.

Umpires: R S Dunne and D B Hair.