England 281 and 254-8
AS MIKE ATHERTON established during their notorious innings of 46 all out in Trinidad, his standard response to impending doom is to seek refuge in the shower. More matches like this and the England captain will soon be waddling out to the wicket with webbed feet.
Yesterday he spent the last half-hour in the shower as England, having begun with thoughts of victory, escaped with a largely undeserved draw in the second Cornhill Test.
Resuming at 56 for 0 in pursuit of 407 to win, England's challenge collapsed within 15 minutes yesterday as two of their class batsmen, Atherton and Graham Gooch, were dismissed in six balls. The third, Alec Stewart, made an ebullient third century in six Test innings, but from that over onwards it was simply a question of survival.
The bowler was Dion Nash, who exemplified the tourists' performance as he took 11 wickets, made 56 runs and added a couple of catches and a run-out to an outstanding personal performance in only his fifth Test. Like most of his colleagues, he lifted his game to an unexpected level and kept it there for much of the match.
England were not so well served and after their batsmen - Stewart apart - had failed, it was left to Steve Rhodes to steer the side to a draw with a defiant innings of more than two hours. During the last hour, in which New Zealand bowled 17 tense overs, he was well supported by Angus Fraser, until he unaccountably padded up to the excellent Hart, and by Paul Taylor, who played out nine chanceless overs.
Judging by his opportunities in this game, Taylor is unlikely to play again for England, but if that proves the case nothing will have become his Test career like the ending of it.
It was a gripping finale, not that television viewers knew much about it as the BBC obsession with Wimbledon took precedence until, with the switchboard under seige, there was a late switch.
The morning mood had been bullish with England, heavily backed after Sunday night's belligerent opening, down to level odds with the Kiwis. Their optimism seemed matched by the team as Atherton immediately attacked, punching Nash though the covers for four off the fourth ball of the morning.
England were never in control again. Facing the first ball of Nash's next over, Atherton, surprised by the bounce, jabbed the ball to second slip, where Bryan Young took a good catch above his head. Enter Gooch to keen anticipation. Five balls later, exit Gooch to bewildered disappointment, an inswinging yorker trapping him leg-before for his second duck in 20 Lord's Tests.
While Stewart continued to attack, albeit with increasing discrimination, Smith, playing for his place, rarely looked comfortable. He edged Nash just short of second slip and then was almost done by Hart's change of pace. He suffered but survived for almost two hours before his eagerness to cut betrayed him and he was caught behind. In the same over Hick, having pulled for four, involuntarily flashed over slip as the resourceful Nash now found added pace.
At the other end Stewart, never a man to do things by halves, pulled up the shutters. Whereas every ball had been viewed as a possible boundary, now they were all regarded with deadly suspicion; even a Hart full toss was played gently to cover as he added two runs in 45 minutes.
But Stewart's batting temperament is no more suited to defence than a Brazilian footballer's and, with another Chris Pringle misfield giving him impetus, he was off again, reaching his century with his 17th four.
With Hick blossoming, England looked to have recovered their poise, but just as he looked to have made certain of his position in the side Hick missed a straight one. With tea approaching, Rutherford quickly recalled Nash to attack Craig White. Though beaten twice White survived, but Nash gained far greater reward as Stewart, after nearly five hours batting, drove him to gully.
By now each new batsmen was taking so long to reach the crease they could have been timed out. England were similarly tardy in the field and were fined pounds 360 a head (15 per cent of the match fee) for the slow over-rate.
With the gloom in the home dressing room matched by that of the skies, the last session began with eight fielders around the bat and the crowd hushed. Rhodes, perhaps unnerved by the unexpected responsibility, got away with some rash airy drives before settling to his task; White also dug in but was never entirely convincing and, after batting 73 minutes, loosely steered Nash to fourth slip.
Nash, who ended with 11 for 169, the best figures by a New Zealand bowler against England, had come into this Test, his fifth, with eight wickets at 55.10. The 22-year- old even won the ultimate accolade with Fred Trueman giving him the 'for any youngster out there who wants to learn how to bowl' tribute for his consistently full length and movement.
For England the attention turns to the third and final Test. Although Atherton's team avoided defeat, they were outplayed on all five days of a Test in which they were expected to dominate the opposition. With the expected slaughter having gone horribly wrong, there should be blood on the walls at this weekend's selection meeting.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content