Cricket: Kiwis build confidence: Tourists score freely while Durham share the spoils

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286-9 dec and 90-3

New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .295-5 dec

AS TEST preparation for Lord's, this suited the New Zealanders. The inate assumption is that they can adjust their batting approach from facing a callow Gloucestershire attack, with Martin Crowe thrashing 73 from 53 balls, to confronting a much more challenging England team on Thursday.

Blair Pocock, their opener, also hinted at his suitability to play a long Test innings, given the chance, with 103 not out in almost five hours to challenge Blair Hartland's place. Mark Greatbatch missed an opportunity when being run out at the non- striker's end from Michael Smith's deflection of Pocock's drive.

Crowe sat throughout the morning session on the patio, pads on, enjoying a chat and watching a partnership of 164 between Bryan Young and Pocock. Then, equally nonchalantly but mischievously, he threatened the fastest first- class century of the season, set by Ken Rutherford, his fellow tourist, against Glamorgan, from 71 balls two days earlier.

When Crowe was caught at the wicket from a ball with extra bounce from Alleyne, he had scored 73 runs to eight from Pocock during their partnership of 86. Crowe struck 12 fours and a six, but his dismissal was a glaring disappointment to a batsman with 15 Test hundreds and sights on 20. England beware.

These Kiwi batsmen have now produced seven first- class hundreds in rapid succession, but here Young fell short, caught and bowled by the juggling Ricardo Williams.

Gloucestershire, who lost Robert Cunliffe, caught at backward point, together with Tim Hancock and Hinks when they batted again, had maintained their fielding standards during the Crowe onslaught, which included Hancock disappearing for 35 runs from three overs. Alleyne bowled a highly respectable line and length, though Smith's success the previous evening in dismissing Hartland and Danny Morrison, the nightwatchman, for ducks, evaporated.

As for Morrison, he left the attack, and the field. Feeling the cold, New Zealand's prime strike bowler, who suffered a torn hamstring in the Texaco Trophy match at Edgbaston, retired for treatment. Precaution is the word, but doubtless the tourists will hold their breath for a day or two.