Cricket: Rain sinks tour hopes

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The Independent Online
Mark Ealham produced the sort of innings which deserved to win a match for England A against New South Wales yesterday, only to see his efforts washed away by the rain.

Ealham used brilliant aggression to counter a spiteful pitch but the tourists were unable to secure the fourth one-day victory of their Australian tour. Thanks to Ealham, England A, who have been as impressive in limited- overs matches as they have during four-day games, had established what looked to be a winning position after a near-disastrous start as Shane Lee expertly exploited the unpredictable surface. After Adam Hollioake, judging correctly that the North Dalton Park pitch would deteriorate as the match progressed, decided to bat first, the tourists slumped to 58 for five.

Lee, the Australian World Cup player, who had hit 113 off 103 deliveries during England's one-day victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, once again delighted in frustrating the tourists by dismissing Mark Butcher, Anthony McGrath, Hollioake and Warren Hegg to claim four for 12 in five overs.

But Ealham hit an unbeaten 70, only the second time on the tour he has passed 50, to spoil Lee's figures - he finished with four for 35 in his 10 overs - to help England reach 154 for six when the weather intervened.

"I decided to be positive from the start because it was such an uneven bounce that there was always the chance you would edge it behind or be caught off the glove," explained Ealham, who hit five fours during his masterful innings.

"It was a pretty dangerous wicket. It was very dry and it crumbled. It got very hairy batting out there towards the end. It was the sort of wicket where you had to go for your shots. Every time you tried to play defensively, it would rear up and hit you on the hand."

Ealham and Hollioake suffered painful blows on their hands while Hegg was struck on the side of the helmet as England became increasingly concerned about the state of the surface and possible injuries before their final match against Queensland in Brisbane next week.

But Ealham cut loose and added 86 in 14 overs with Craig White, who was caught on the boundary for 26 just three balls before rain ended the match.

New South Wales v England A

England A won toss

England A

M A Butcher c Matthews b Lee 20

M P Vaughan run out 3

A McGrath lbw b Lee 10

*A J Hollioake c Emery b Lee 0

=W K Hegg c Roberts b Lee 11

C White c Chee Quee b Robertson 25

M A Ealham not out 70

A F Giles not out 0

Extras (lb5 w6 nb4) 15

Total (for6 wkts, 30.4 overs) 154

Fall: 1-27, 2-33, 3-35, 4-45, 5-58, 6-144

Did Not Bat: G Chapple, D W Headley, P M Such.

Bowling: Stuart 9-0-34-0, Nikitaris 9.4-1-57-0, Lee 8-0-35-4, Addlam 2-0-14-0, Robertson 2-0- 9-1.

New South Wales: G R J Matthews (capt), W Addlam, R Chee Quee, =P A Emery, S Lee, S Nikitaris, C J Richards, K J Roberts G R Robertson, M J Slater, A M Stuart.

Umpires: J I Cameron and A G Jackson.