Cricket / Second Test: England fight back after tail-whipping: Atherton's side fail to follow up their early breakthroughs but batsmen reassert control after Stewart sets a sparkling pace

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New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .476

England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94-1

ENGLAND are used to being victims, but not, as yesterday, of their own success. In annihilating New Zealand in the first Cornhill Test at Trent Bridge, they set a standard which for most of this second game they have failed to match.

In 'Only A Game?', Eamonn Dunphy's bittersweet diary of life as a Millwall footballer 20 years ago, he describes how the old pros would take it easy in the early pre- season running tests while keen youngsters like Gordon Hill would race past them. A month later, with Hill only marginally quicker, it was the old sweats - now making an effort - who were praised for their impressive improvement.

So with England. If this Test and Nottingham were reversed the mood would be one of pleasure at their progress. Instead, it is one of deflated expectations. For Ray Illingworth, the magnitude of his task as chairman of selectors is slowly being revealed, or perhaps the Kiwis are cannier than they appear.

Even taking into account the excellent batting pitch and Martin Crowe's genius, this was a disappointing bowling performance. It was more than two years since New Zealand had passed 400 and 22 Tests and more than three years since they made more than the 476 England conceded. Then (it was against Sri Lanka in early 1991) Crowe made 299, this time he was out in anticlimactic fashion for 142, which means the rest of arguably the poorest batting side to visit England for a decade still made 334.

England, having taken the new ball and the wickets of the overnight batsmen in just over an hour, would have hoped to dismiss the tourists for under 400. In the event, with the last two wickets adding 79, it was after the scheduled tea interval that the innings was finally ended.

In the 26 overs remaining, England then cut the deficit to 382 for the loss of Alec Stewart, who, having gorged in the manner of Monty Python's Mr Creosote, also attempted a nibble too many and perished for a run-a-ball 45.

At one stage, Stewart hit seven fours in 11 balls as England began at five an over. By then the red mist was upon him and, having missed out at Trent Bridge, he was none to pleased at being cut short when Steve Bucknor gave him out caught behind pushing at a lifting ball from Dion Nash. The appeal alone had prompted the you-must- be-joking, hand-on-hip stance and he stalked off grimly aware that he may only get one more innings against this accommodating attack before the South Africans arrive.

Like the West Indians, they may bring the best from Stewart; even though Nash almost bowled him off the inside edge second ball, he treated New Zealand's attack with a disdain bordering on arrogance and his concentration suffered. It was wonderful stuff, but inevitably short-lived. Graham Gooch, equally superior but more calculating, was content to ensure he had a full day's troughing to look forward to today.

It was not a good day for Stewart, who also missed a catch at second slip off Matthew Hart to Paul Taylor's bowling. Though straightforward, he may have been expecting Steve Rhodes to go for it, in which case he was too close. It was indicative of a patchy fielding performance, the highlight of which was Taylor's direct-hit dismissal of Shane Thomson in the third over.

That looked to be a valuable breakthrough and when a subdued Crowe was surprised by some extra bounce from Phillip DeFreitas and spliced a catch to midwicket, a quick wrapping up seemed in prospect. But, led by Adam Parore and Nash, none of the tail gave up their wickets and the Kiwis gradually built a total that ought to earn them a draw and some respect.

As the sight of slumbering bodies in the Warner suggested, it was not pretty. But sadly the days of tailenders having a quick and entertaining biff are, with a few exceptions, long gone.

The compact Parore batted close to two hours before slashing at Taylor, a first home Test wicket and a reward for an improved, but still unspectacular, display. Hart was bowled sweeping against Peter Such's spin, Chris Pringle well caught by Graeme Hick at second slip and Nash, after more than two hours' studied defiance, fell to Craig White's best delivery of the match, a late outswinger.

It was a rare good ball and White again disappointed, though it is hardly his fault for being promoted ahead of time. The best bowling, in a midday spell, was from DeFreitas, who, from being cricket's equivalent of an itinerant traveller, looks on the verge of establishing Daffy's Corner as a permanent feature of the England dressing-room.

Not everyone is as safe and Hick, Smith and White will be looking for convincing innings today - if they get in.

LORD'S SCOREBOARD

(New Zealand won toss)

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 316 for 4)

M D Crowe c Smith b DeFreitas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142

(366 min, 255 balls, 20 fours, 3 sixes)

S A Thomson run out (Taylor) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69

(171 min, 141 balls, 12 fours)

A C Parore c Rhodes b Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40

(110 min, 72 balls, 6 fours)

M N Hart b Such . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

(72 min, 59 balls, 3 fours)

D J Nash b White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56

(134 min, 102 balls, 7 fours)

C Pringle c Hick b DeFreitas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

(52 min, 35 balls, 1 four)

M B Owens not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

(54 min, 33 balls)

Extras (b3 lb15 w1 nb21) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40

Total (640 min, 149.1 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .476

Fall (cont): 5-318 (Thomson), 6-350 (Crowe), 7-391 (Parore), 8-397 (Hart),

9-434 (Pringle).

Bowling: Fraser 36-9-102-2 (nb11) (7-3-5- 1, 4-0-14-0, 5-1-19-1, 3-1-18-0, 3-0-10-0, 7-4- 8-0, 2-0-10-0, 5-0-18-0); DeFreitas 35-8- 102-3 (nb7) (9-4-15-0, 6-3-15-1, 4-0-28-0, 5-0-14-0, 5-0-13-1, 6-1-17-1); Taylor 20-4- 64-1 (nb6) (5-0-22-0, 7-1-26-0, 8-3-16-1); Such 30-8-84-2 (4-2-12-1, 9-3-32-0, 4-0- 10-0, 2-0-5-0, 7-3-10-1, 4-0-15-0); White 21.1-4-84-1 (w1) (2-1-4-0, 4-0-23-0, 5-0-27- 0, 6-2-19-0, 4.1-1-11-1); Gooch 5-1-13-0 (1- 0-2-0, 4-1-11-0), Hick 2-0-9-0 (one spell).

Progress (second day): New ball taken immediately. 350: 456 min, 106 overs. Lunch: 389 for 6 (Parore 39, Hart 20) 116 overs. 400: 535 min, 124.5 overs. 450: 605 min, 140.2 overs. Innings closed: 3.59.

Nash 50: 131 min, 97 balls, 7 fours.

ENGLAND - First innings

* M A Atherton not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(100 min, 76 balls, 5 fours)

A J Stewart c Parore b Nash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

(54 min, 44 balls, 9 fours)

G A Gooch not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

(44 min, 40 balls, 2 fours)

Extras (lb5 nb4) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Total (for 1, 100 min, 26 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94

Fall: 1-65 (Stewart).

To bat: R A Smith, G A Hick, C White, S J Rhodes, P A J DeFreitas, A R C Fraser, J P Taylor, P M Such.

Bowling: Owens 5-0-26-0 (nb2) (one spell); Nash 5-0-22-1 (nb2) (2-0-5-0, 3-0- 17-1); Pringle 7-1-32-0 (3-0-22-0, 4-1-10-0); Hart 8-4-9-0, Thomson 1-1-0-0 (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 43 min, 9.5 overs.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and N T Plews.

(Photograph omitted)

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