Cricket: Millns makes a show of maturity

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The Independent Online
Worcestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .141-6


DAVID MILLNS, who turned in the best bowling figures of last season (9 for 37), undermined Worcestershire's below-strength batting with another performance that tended to emphasise his growing maturity as a fast bowler before a storm flooded Grace Road yesterday.

There have never been any doubts about Millns's genuine pace, only his ability to put the ball in the right place with a degree of consistency (is there not someone in the England side with a similar problem?) but here his smooth, rhythmic run-up and accurate off-stump line suggested that at 27 he is now nearing his peak.

The result was 5 for 44, three of them in 10 deliveries with the old ball in the sultry heat of the afternoon. On a pitch with negligible pace, he hit the seam and thwacked the ball heartily into the wicketkeeper's gloves, and nobody played him for long with too much comfort.

It was all too demanding for Worcestershire who, trying to camouflage a middle order which was lacking Tom Moody, Graeme Hick and, we might as well remember, Ian Botham, enjoyed what luck was going after being put in, but not too much of it later on.

They also had problems against Winston Benjamin, who not only hit remote parts of the bat with some frequency off nothing more than a six-pace run-up, but also caused Philip Weston to retire with a bruised right arm when he was caught unawares by Benjamin's steep bounce.

He will resume today provided he can grip a bat. Meanwhile, too many of his colleagues lost their grip at inconvenient moments and the innings veered right out of control once Phil Neale, grafting hard in only his third Championship innings after being the victim of two shooters in the first two, fell to the deserving Benjamin.