Cricket: Parore's stand frustrates England

Edgbaston New Zealand 226 v England
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The Independent Online
IF NASSER HUSSAIN'S first day in office threatened to be the whole vintage wine from water miracle, the first day of the resurrection should have been better. New Zealand may not be the biggest trophy in world cricket but they still need to be finished off. They were not and England's pace bowlers, never really on top of their game, allowed them to recover from the potentially terminal position of 104 for 6 to a competitive 226 all out largely on the back of a pugnacious 73 by Adam Parore, the last man out.

The value of England's position in this first Cornhill Test will only become apparent later today and much will depend on the overhead conditions and how they bat. New Zealand have a good seam attack with more experience than England's and, with cloud forecast, the home side may well yet rue missing the chance Parore offered to Alec Stewart when he was on seven.

Generally England's catching and fielding was of a high class, and only a faint bottom-edge, dropped by the debutant Chris Read off Phil Tufnell, added a blemish to the day.

Other than to persuade his bowlers of the folly of regularly banging the ball in too short, Hussain, at least judging by the experiences of recent predecessors, could hardly have wished for a much better initiation as England captain. Mind you Alex Tudor, troubled by a recent knee injury, barely clocked 83 mph and did not look fully fit. On a day tailor-made for seam bowling, Surrey's gangling paceman sent down just 11 overs, a slice of the action that accounted for just one wicket, that of the Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming.

It was that sloppiness from the fast men that essentially lead to Tufnell taking three wickets for the first time in a Test since the second innings at The Oval when he helped bowl out Australia with figures of 7 for 66.

By all accounts Tufnell nearly did not play and, after a lengthy ponder just before the toss during which a dozen people would have got in Hussain's ear about playing the extra seamer, the skipper eventually stuck by his man.

Before turning to Tufnell, Hussain had used Mark Butcher as a fourth seamer, a ploy that worked well before lunch when Butcher removed Astle and not so well after, when Parore belted an assortment of long-hops to the boundary. Judging by the body language Butcher was also Hussain's unofficial second in charge, a fact that may explain why he allowed his second spell to go on longer than it should.

Fortune undoubtedly played into Hussain's hands and Fleming's decision to bat in overcast conditions and with moisture in the pitch was loaded with risk. If there is logic in the expression "a good toss to lose" it revealed itself here and Hussain admitted that he would have done the same had the coin favoured him. Of course, with Edgbaston's tendency for its pitches to crack and bounce more irregularly as the match goes on, it may still prove to be a shrewd decision and England will want a decent first-innings lead to minimise the risk of batting last.

Afterwards, Hussain's performance earned praise from the chairman of selectors, David Graveney, who said: "Nasser was very good. I thought his bowling changes were handled well, he did everything we expected him to do, but at the end of the day it's definitely in the hands of your bowlers. He showed all the qualities we see in Nasser in county cricket, his tactical awareness was very good, as was his use of spin. The variation in the attack has proved the selection was a right one.

Certainly things went right for Hussain early on. Three balls into the morning Fleming's decision was looking positively barmy, and the sightscreens were barely in place when Roger Twose angled a rising ball from Alan Mullally to Graham Thorpe at first slip. It certainly caught Twose's cousin Eddie the Cushion Hirer by surprise. Eddie was already depressed by the fact that all the good cushions had apparently gone to Wimbledon and the sudden fate of his relative did little to lighten the gloom.

The wicket proved somewhat misleading for Mullally, who had one of his poorer days for England. It was against New Zealand two years ago that Mullally first lost his place with a wayward piece of bowling in Auckland. Yesterday was not much better, despite the recent improvements made from shortening his run, and Read spent much of his time scuttling across to take leg-side deliveries.

Fortunately for Hussain, Andy Caddick, once he had come to terms with operating into the wind from the City End, bowled reasonably well. Getting extravagant movement and bounce - the latter seducing him into erring on the short side of the optimum - he beat the outside edge with monotonous regularity. Trapping Matthew Horne lbw, with one that came in on the angle, he later dismissed Chris Cairns and Craig McMillan, the latter to a brilliant catch by Thorpe going low to his left at first slip.

Cairns can be a dangerous batsman and, with Caddick already having put him down off his own bowling, another chance to make amends was fortuitous. Certainly Cairns thought so, and the last place he expected a rising ball off his hips to go was back to the bowler off a leading edge.

Whenever devastation threatens, New Zealand always seem to find someone to limit the damage. Like certain members of this England side, Parore has had a chequered past. Coming to the crease he made his highest Test score against England, a feat made possible by the early reprieve from Stewart as Parore edged his cut shot off Tudor 25 minutes after lunch.

For some reason Stewart moved to his right rather than his left at second slip. Perhaps it was the red ball coming out of the dark pavilion windows, or a pigeon in his eyesight. Whatever it was, it allowed Parore to continue his perky innings and force England into re-assessing the extent of their psychological advantage. As Hussain pointed out only the other day: "A lot of Test cricket is played from the neck up." On his first day in charge, it was a point England's bowlers tended to ignore.

Caddick, joined on the threewicket mark by Phil Tufnell, said: "In the last season and a half since I've been out of Test cricket I've just been concentrating on bowling line and length and maidens.

Calm after the carnival;

County cricket, page 28

EDGBASTON SCOREBOARD

New Zealand won toss

NEW ZEALAND - First innings

R G Twose c Thorpe b Mullally 0

2 min, 3 balls

M J Horne lbw b Caddick 12

39 min, 29 balls, 1 four

*S P Fleming c Thorpe b Tudor 27

82 min, 59 balls, 6 fours

N J Astle c Read b Butcher 26

75 min, 53 balls, 5 fours

C D McMillan c Thorpe b Caddick 18

78 min, 53 balls, 2 fours

C L Cairns c and b Caddick 17

40 min, 33 balls, 2 fours

A C Parore c Read b Mullally 73

205 min, 140 balls, 9 fours

D J Nash c Hussain b Tufnell 21

120 min, 100 balls, 1 four

D L Vettori c Hussain b Tufnell 1

14 mins, 15 balls

S B Doull c Butcher b Tufnell 11

17 min, 15 balls, 1 four

G I Allott not out 7

43 min, 38 balls

Extras (b1,lb5,w1,nb6) 13

Total (362 mins, 88.4 overs) 226

Fall: 1-0 (Twose), 2-19 (Horne), 3-55 (Fleming), 4-73 (Astle), 5-103 (Cairns), 6-104 (McMillan), 7-189 (Nash), 8-191 (Vettori), 9-211 (Doull), 10-226 (Parore).

Bowling: Mullally 26.4-5-72-2 (nb2,w1) (7-2-14-1 9-2-24-0 6-1-24-0 4.4- 0-10-1), Caddick 27-12-57-3 (9-4-20-1 10-6-19-2 7-1-18-0 1-1-0-0), Tudor 11-2-44-1 (nb3) (5-2-18-1 6-0-26-0), Butcher 7-2-25-1 (5-2-15-1 2-0-10- 0), Tufnell 17-9-22-3 (nb1) (one spell).

Progress: 50: 79 min, 19 overs. Lunch: 75-4 (McMillan 5, Cairns 2) 29 overs. 100: 151 min, 36.2 overs. 150: 225 min, 52.3 overs. Tea: 166-6 (Parore 43, Nash 14) 58 overs. 200: 309 min, 75.3 overs. (New ball taken after 86 overs at 221-9).

Parore: 50: 98 min, 66 balls, 7 fours.

England: A J Stewart, M A Butcher, *N Hussain, G P Thorpe, M R Ramprakash, A Habib, C M W Read, A J Tudor, A R Caddick, A D Mullally, P C R Tufnell.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and P Willey.

TV Replay Umpire: R Julian.

Match Referee: P L van der Merwe

Compiled by Jo King

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