Cricket: `That was one of my best days'

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Phil Tufnell celebrated his seven-wicket haul with his customary fag and a cuppa. The hero of all England had ended a frustrating Ashes summer in which he has covered 1,100 miles trekking from Lord's to each of the first five Test venues, only to be sent home, surplus to requirements.

Not yesterday at The Oval, though. The four miles from headquarters due south has been worth it. "I think that was one of my best days of Test cricket," said Tufnell, for whom his 7 for 64 brought to an end a run of 20 Tests since his last such return - his career-best 7 for 47 against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1992.

"It's been a very frustrating time for me this summer. It is disappointing to keep going up and down the motorways. But you have to stay," he paused to smile, "focused. I don't know how many miles I've covered but I got a few expenses.

"But today has made up for all that. Today was good fun. I got into a pretty good rhythm, there was a bit of turn, the odd one bounced and there was a bit of rough for me as well."

Tufnell was given some able support by Andrew Caddick, who was steaming in from the Vauxhall End still sporting that characteristic action copied from his bowling hero, Sir Richard Hadlee, and giving little away.

But it was only what the New Zealand-born Caddick has been doing for much of the summer, there was a hiccup around the third and fourth Tests, but a spot of rehabilitation with his county, Somerset, and Caddick was back. He has now taken 59 first-class wickets this season, including two hauls of five wickets in an innings against Australia. The first of those was in the opening Test of the Ashes series when he took 5 for 50; the second was at the beginning of this month in the rain ruined match at Taunton, the figures on that occasion were only slightly worse, 5 for 54.

Caddick's contribution may have been more modest in numbers of wickets, but he still provided a moment or two of high drama, notably when he had Shane Warne and Mike Kasprowicz in successive balls. That the hat-trick delivery was just out of Glenn McGrath's reach did not really matter because the support he gave Tufnell has gone a long way to restoring that confidence which coach David Lloyd feared had deserted his charges after their first day humiliation. At least the Australians were kept in check. The onus is on the England batsmen once more.