Cricket: Sting in tail from Croft and Mullally

Queensland 209 & 124 England 192 & 142-9 England win by one wicket

MORALE-BOOSTING victories come in many shapes and sizes, but few as slender as England's over Queensland. In a match that was nip and tuck from the moment the first shooter claimed a victim, England prevailed against the odds by one wicket, the last pair of Alan Mullally and Robert Croft scoring 36 runs to record the tourists' first four-day win.

Needing 68 runs for victory at the start of the last day and with five wickets remaining, England slumped to 106 for 9, before the hour and the men cometh. Fittingly it was Croft who scored the winning run, for he had been so instrumental in helping England save the Old Trafford Test against South Africa in the summer, a draw that proved to be the turning point of the series.

Victory, especially one against the odds, can alter the mood of a team in an instant and England now travel to Brisbane with something other than speculation over Michael Atherton's dicky back and Mark Butcher's lamentable form.

If the success was unexpected, as it was for much of the second innings, Alec Stewart had every right to be pleased with the nature of it. Once again, as they had done earlier in the tour in the drawn matches against the Western Warriors and South Australia, England revealed a spirited streak, and similar intransigence will be vital in the Tests if Australia are to be troubled.

Yet, according to Croft, no one is getting carried away with the triumph. "Sure it's a boost to team spirit," he said afterwards, "but unless we perform well in the Ashes, this performance won't mean much."

Not swayed by the theorists who claimed that the front foot had to thrust as far down the pitch as possible in order to negate the shooter, Croft stuck rigidly to the back and across technique he has been working on with Graham Gooch. Like many, he has recently had trouble against the short ball and merely sought Gooch's help.

But if Croft was steadfast, Mullally was a revelation. Like all fast bowlers Mullally fancies himself with the bat. Until Monday morning there had been little evidence that he even knew what a bat was let alone familiar with shots like the hook and the sweep, both of which he played with great verve in his unbeaten 23. Dean Headley, another of the bowling fraternity, also weighed in with a useful 20, which included two of the nine fours struck in England's second innings.

"I'm determined to have a good tour and do well," said Mullally, once of Western Australia but now of Leicestershire. "If me and the rest of the tail-enders can make 20 or 30 runs each with the bat, it will help us enormously."

As pure cricket goes, this match has been generally dull and attritional, though the drama as the last pair inched their way towards the 142 required was undeniable.

In some ways, the unpredictable nature of the pitch, a mosaic of deep cracks, made batting more like Russian roulette, except it was toes rather than brains that were most in danger of ending up traumatised. One moment the ball was bouncing normally, then suddenly stumps would fly and another hapless victim would stare at the pitch before trudging off to the pavilion.

All but Croft and Mullally that is, who together survived 133 balls as Queensland pressed for a victory that had seemed theirs from the moment they had dismissed Dominic Cork the previous evening.

At that point England were 74 for 5, with only Atherton, still nursing a bad back, the last of the recognised batsman to come. The former England captain did not have to wait long and in the seventh over of the day, Mark Ramprakash mis-hooked Mike Kasprowicz to backward square leg. Kasprowicz, who finished with 6 for 30, is in the Australian squad for the first Test. Unsurprisingly Shane Warne's name was not among the XII, which contained few surprises when it was announced before lunch.

Atherton did not fare well and after getting off the mark, he was promptly stumped by Ian Healy off the left-arm spin of Paul Jackson. When you have a bad back - Atherton's problem is a degenerative disease known as spondolytis - the last thing you want to be doing is lunging on to the front foot, which is why he tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to use his feet to get to the pitch of the ball.

It is a difficult move to perform when compromised by pain and Atherton will be seeing a specialist in Brisbane, probably in order to have a cortisone injection to reduce the inflammation around his spine.

As he has already had two of these in Adelaide, a third would seem a fairly risky undertaking, one at odds with his confidence in being fit to open the innings in the first Test. England badly need him, but not at the cost to his long-term health.

Final day of four; England won toss

QUEENSLAND - First Innings 209 (G I Foley 71, I A Healy 57).

ENGLAND - First innings 192 (A J Stewart 52; A C Dale 7-33).

QUEENSLAND - Second Innings 124 (J P Maher 56).

ENGLAND - Second Innings

(Overnight 74 for 5)

M R Ramprakash c Bichel b Kasprowicz 8

D W Headley b Kasprowicz 20

M A Atherton st Healy b Jackson 1

R D B Croft not out 15

D Gough b Kasprowicz 0

A D Mullally not out 23

Extras (b1 lb10) 11

Total (for 9, 61.2 overs) 142

Fall (cont): 6-89 7-100 8-104 9-106.

Bowling: Bichel 9-1-32-1; Dale 12-5-23-1; Kasprowicz 18.2-5-31-6; Jackson 21-7-40-1; Symonds 1-0-5-0.

England won by one wicket.

Umpires: A J McQuillan and S J Tausel.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)