Cricket: Hussain helps to deny Dutch

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NASSER HUSSAIN yesterday followed up his Trent Bridge Test success by helping the England manager, Keith Fletcher, to celebrate his first victory for four and a half months - over the Netherlands in Haarlem.

Hussain hit 52 from 33 balls on a matting pitch to set up a 128-run win for Mark Benson's England XI. Half-centuries from Benson and his Kent team-mate, Trevor Ward, ensured there would be no repeat of the embarrassment of four years ago when the Dutch defeated an England side led by Peter Roebuck by three runs in Amsterdam.

Hussain and his Essex colleague, John Stephenson, were the only two survivors of that Dutch disaster, and Hussain said: 'Four years ago we were a bit naive, coming over here expecting to win by right.'

The Netherlands' batsmen never looked capable of matching England's 238 for 5, and Fletcher was left to reflect on his first victory since England beat India in a one-day international against India at Jamshedpur on 1 March. 'We were up at 6 am for our flight from Heathrow this morning but I thought the side played very professionally,' he said. 'We came out here to do a job and I think we adapted to the matting pretty well.'

Yesterday's 40-over contest is followed by a 55-over game today, but that too will be a mismatch unless the England team drawn from just four counties relaxes too much after a night of Dutch hospitality.

Liam Botham, 15, son of the former England all-rounder, Ian, is to play for Hampshire seconds during his school holidays.

Courtney Walsh took over the Gloucestershire captaincy from Tony Wright yesterday, after Wright resigned citing his own loss of form.