Cricket: Third Test: Gough and DeFreitas shine to put England in command: Kiwis on the rack after England pair find their form with bat and ball while Atherton completes fourth century as captain

Click to follow
The Independent Online
England 382

New Zealand 84-4

FORGIVENESS was the order of the day at Old Trafford as England took what should be an unshakable grip on the third Test. Darren Gough was forgiven for being a Yorkie, Philip DeFreitas for both coming to and leaving Lancashire, and England for the soporific batting of the previous day.

They may not yet be forgiven for the omission of John Crawley and Mike Watkinson from the batting line-up, but when it comes to the seam attack there can be no doubt that England have, for the moment, got it right.

Both Gough, on his Test debut, and DeFreitas not only bowled well but batted considerably better than most of the batsmen had done. Angus Fraser, while not bowling at his best this series, is a proven bowler of high class.

Gough, who the previous evening had taken evident pride in being an England player in a Yorkshire blazer at the home of the enemy, was given a standing ovation for his carefree batting and both he and DeFreitas were generously acclaimed for their bowling.

At 84 for 4 the tourists are 99 short of saving the follow-on. Still at the crease, but weakened by sickness, is Martin Crowe, who was spurred by England's refusal to allow him a substitute fielder into illuminating the evening with aggressive batting of the highest class.

Crowe came into the match with flu but is now suffering from a reaction to antibiotics. New Zealand regarded this as a new illness, England disagreed and he was restricted to brief toilet breaks. While Crowe said he too would have refused such an opposition request, the team manager, Geoff Howarth, harked back to the Lord's Test of 1986 when New Zealand allowed England to and use first Bob Taylor, then Bobby Parks, as substitutes for the injured wicketkeeper, Bruce French.

But that was in an earlier, gentler age. England are now under a tough regime and, with their first series victory in four years in sight, they awarded Mike Atherton the captaincy for the coming series with South Africa before the start of play. Not out 96 overnight, he quickly celebrated with his fourth hundred in 10 Tests as captain. The second 50, from 97 balls, was twice as quick as the first and, despite having already lost Craig White, he appeared in the mood for further acceleration as he moved to 111 in even time.

But then Barry Lambson, the independent South African umpire, took a hand. Given that both Atherton's feet were off the ground when Dion Nash brought one back to hit him well above the knee roll, there seemed no cause for alarm. But Lambson's arm went skyward in a blur of speed.

With White having spoilt his good work of Thursday afternoon by unnecessarily pushing at, and edging, a wideish Michael Owens delivery to third slip, England were 224 for 6. Four overs later, as a sharply rising Nash delivery drew Steve Rhodes into an involuntary edge, it was 235 for 7 and New Zealand scented a kill. It proved a long time coming as Gough and DeFreitas created a record stand for any wicket in England-New Zealand Tests at Old Trafford.

They added 130 in 34 overs, playing, once Gough had got over brief early nerves, with a refreshing freedom. Gough, especially, clubbed seam and spin alike to the straight boundary. While DeFreitas played like the batsman he has long promised - but previously failed - to be, Gough had some luck, flashing past slip as he charged Shane Thomson on 59, then surviving a stumping chance against Matthew Hart as Adam Parore made an awful hash.

By then, with DeFreitas having unluckily chopped on driving at Owens, England were simply having a thrash and Parore's error went unpunished as Gough, scooping a curious drive to extra cover, immediately fell to Chris Pringle.

England's final wicket went quickly, but not as fast as New Zealand's first. Mark Greatbatch, suffering from a fractured thumb, lasted five balls before he fended inadequately at a Gough bouncer and was caught off the glove. With Graham Gooch taking a juggling catch off a loose Ken Rutherford drive and Rhodes an excellent, plunging one from a similar Stephen Fleming drive, New Zealand were 47 for 3 when Crowe entered.

His first 10 balls went for 26, DeFreitas being pulled for six, and only the departure of Young, needlessly edging a DeFreitas out- swinger, slowed the assault. Crowe remains, however, and upon his ability lie New Zealand's hopes of making this match a contest.

(Photograph omitted)