Cricket / Third Test: Stewart falls to inspired strategy

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KEN Rutherford emerged as a general in his own right during the Lord's Test, rather than someone who had acquired the New Zealand captaincy by default. He continued the good work at Old Trafford.

After losing the toss New Zealand must have reckoned they would be looking at an England score of 400 at least.

There was a ring of thunderous certainty about Alec Stewart's early strokeplay and Dion Nash did not seem to be bending his back quite as he had done at Lord's. But his off-stump line was good, enabling his captain to set a field with seven men on the off side and two on the leg.

Nash bowled to Stewart with a wide mid-on and a fine leg. Seeing the huge gap, Stewart will have been determined to dispatch anything short in that direction.

Nash bowled the perfect delivery, short but not quite short enough and pitching just outside off stump. Stewart went for the pull and made the mistake of not moving his back foot far enough across to get outside the line of the ball, because the ball was fractionally too far up and did not give him time.

When his bat made contact he was not in control of the stroke and able to roll his wrists to keep the ball down. His bat was still fetching the ball from outside his body and, inevitably, it went up in the air. It was the misjudgement of the ball's length which cost him his wicket.

It was clever captaincy by Rutherford brilliantly supported by Nash, who then went one better. His next ball was the perfect length, which caught Graham Gooch in what Ken Barrington used to describe as 'two-man's land' and swung away as well. It was an extremely difficult question to ask first ball of any batsman, even one as good as Gooch.