Cricket: Knight's height of fashion

England 324-6 Queensland 232 England win by 92 runs
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The Independent Online
THEY ARE unfashionable players with counties to match. Four months ago the suggestion that Mark Alleyne and Vince Wells might appear in an England team - separately, let alone together - would have been greeted with amused tolerance, as indeed it had been by generations of selectors.

Any notion that they might not only play but make substantial and lively contributions measured precisely to the demands of the team and the state of the game might have brought the men in white coats round for a visit. Thus reputations are developed and stick in the face of both the facts and worthy recommendations. That is fashion.

It was other men in white coats, of course, namely most of the first- class umpires, who had been banging on for years about the unheralded and overlooked virtues of the all-rounders from Gloucestershire and Leicestershire. Since Wells is 33 years old and Gloucester stalwart Alleyne is 30 their time was less running out than up, but last September the present selection panel at last heeded the evidence and picked them for the winter one-day matches.

With the remnants of the Test side yet to come back, it is still unsure what parts they will take when the serious stuff begins in the internationals tomorrow, but yesterday here their form was resplendent against Queensland Bulls. England won by 92 runs in as sustained an exhibition of pleasing cricket as they can have mustered all tour. Wells, at the beginning of England's innings, and Alleyne, at its end, ensured a target which was attainable by the state side only in the event of dreams, an inexcusable England bowling performance or an immense innings from the Australian side's captain, Essex's favourite overseas player Stuart Law (although, upon reflection, the last two in that list were not outside the bounds of possibility).

As the match was petering out, Alleyne came on as the seventh bowler, took a wicket with his first ball, aided by a Wells boundary catch, another with his second and finished with 4 for 6 from 14 balls. This might have been considered meritorious enough for the man of the match award. Wells, who was not granted a bowl, edged him out in front of 17,000 spectators who delighted in the drama unfolding before them.

England won the toss, an occurrence as rare as handsome victories this winter, and Wells opened the batting with Nick Knight. They put on 128 in 19 overs and the pace was quite as blistering as it sounds. Knight has become supreme in this version of the game and his rapid, improvised half-century was anticipated. Wells matched him in the desire to innovate shots and their fifties both came at more than a run a ball.

Alleyne (60 in 46 balls) and Neil Fairbrother (56 from 49) sustained the momentum at the end, careful not to lose wickets, judicious in scampering singles in the way Fairbrother has probably patented by now and later hitting freely. Queensland lost too many wickets early to have a realistic tilt at making more than six an over for 50 overs. Law perished to an assured catch by Ashley Giles at third man. England bowled well enough, not least the tidy Robert Croft, and John Crawley was sufficiently assured behind the stumps, but the rest was practice.

ENGLAND Innings

N V Knight b Creevey 58

V J Wells run out 63

B C Hollioake c Foley b Bichel 30

J P Crawley c Seccombe b Bichel 20

N H Fairbrother not out 56

A J Hollioake c Law b Bichel 17

M W Alleyne c Love b Creevey 60

M A Ealham not out 2

Extras (lb9 w7 nb2) 18

Total (For 6 wkts, 50 overs) 324

Fall: 1-128 2-130 3-185 4-204 5-215 6-307.

Did Not Bat: R D B Croft, A F Giles, A D Mullally.

Bowling: Kasprowicz 3-0-24-0; Miller 6-0-43-0; Bichel 10-0-57-3; Prestwidge 10-0-67-0; Creevey 10-0-55-2; Foley 4-0-24-0; Law 7-0-45-0.

QUEENSLAND Innings

M L Hayden b Mullally 24

J P Maher c Crawley b Mullally 25

S G Law c Giles b Mullally 7

M L Love c Crawley b A J Hollioake 18

G I Foley c Knight b Giles 55

M Miller c & b Giles 25

S A Prestwidge c Fairbrother b Alleyne 21

W A Seccombe c Wells b Alleyne 16

B N Creevey c Wells b Alleyne 20

A J Bichel c Giles b Alleyne 10

M S Kasprowicz not out 2

Extras (lb8 nb1) 9

Total (42.2 overs) 232

Fall: 1-39 2-47 3-70 4-79 5-151 6-171 7-199 8-199 9-220.

Bowling: Mullally 8-1-36-3; B C Hollioake 4-0-31-0; Giles 8-0-50-2; Ealham 7-0-33-0; A J Hollioake 6-0-33-1 Croft 7-0-35-0; Alleyne 2.2-0-6-4.

Umpires: G Zimmer and J Tormey.

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