Cricket: Hussain stands by beleaguered Butcher

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Western Province/Boland XI 358-9 dec & 140-6 dec England 249 & 82-2 Match drawn

NASSER HUSSAIN, the England captain, yesterday backed Mark Butcher to emerge successful from his present run drought after he failed once again during England's drawn match against a Combined Western Province/Boland XI at Newlands. Hussain's assertion came after Butcher was run out for three following a misunderstanding with his opening partner Michael Atherton, leaving him a maximum of four innings to rediscover his form before the first Test.

"We're not overly worried about Mark," said Hussain. "He's a good player, he's got plenty of Test runs and he's got runs against South Africa before. Everyone would like to get runs in the middle. He's an outward-going lad with a lot of confidence in himself and I wouldn't be surprised if he went out next week and got some runs."

Yesterday's dismissal occurred as England began their second innings having been set an unlikely victory target of 250 off a minimum 47 overs on a pitch where few batsman had averaged more than two-and-a-half runs an over. Having been dismissed without scoring in the first innings, Butcher was well aware of the pressure on him and when Atherton pushed passed mid-off for what appeared to be a comfortable two runs there seemed to be little danger.

But while Butcher pushed hard to make the two before the fielder, Claude Henderson, could throw in from the deep Atherton was ambling and when the ball was returned to the bowler, Charl Willoughby, both batsmen were stranded at the non-striker's end.

Butcher's demise, which was followed 12 overs later by Atherton being caught one-handed by Rashaad Magiet for 24 as he pulled Donovan Koch, left England tottering on 30 for 2 and forced them to pull out of the victory chase with Hussain and Yorkshire's Michael Vaughan forging an unbroken 52-run partnership.

Final day of four; Combined Western Province/Boland XI won toss

COMBINED WESTERN PROVINCE /BOLAND XI - First innings 358 for 9 dec (L Koen 96, K Jackson 80; A Caddick 5-53).

ENGLAND - First innings 249 (C Adams 89, M Atherton 83).

WESTERN PROVINCE/ BOLAND - Second innings (Overnight: 51 for 4)

R Magiet b Caddick 12

J M Henderson c Butcher b Mullally 3

*L J Koen lbw b Mullally 25

H D Ackerman c Hamilton b Tudor 10

A J Prince c Caddick b Vaughan 31

K C Jackson c Maddy b Mullally 2

S J Palframan not out 43

D M Koch not out 10

Extras (lb2, nb2) 4

Total (for 6, 63 overs) 140

Fall (cont): 5-54, 6-109.

Did not bat: C W Henderson, R Telemachus, C M Willoughby.

Bowling: Caddick 14-7-24-1; Mullally 14-5-31-3; Tudor 11-4-18-1; Vaughan 12-2-31-1; Hamilton 5-1-19-0; Butcher 3-1-3-0; Maddy 4-0-12-0.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

M A Butcher run out 3

M A Atherton c Magiet b Koch 24

*N Hussain not out 33

M P Vaughan not out 16

Extras (b2, lb1, nb3) 6

Total (for 2, 41 overs) 82

Fall: 1-10, 2-30.

Did not bat: A J Stewart, C J Adams, D L Maddy, G M Hamilton, A J Tudor, A R Caddick, A D Mullally.

Bowling: Telemachus 7-1-20-0; Willoughby 7-3-8-0; C W Henderson 14-5- 24-0; Koch 6-2-12-1; J M Henderson 7-2-15-0.

Umpires: I L Howell and R Brooks