Cricket: Thomas takes five but rain ruins England's day

Zimbabwe A 147-7 v England A
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THE ENGLAND A team's hopes of gaining a stranglehold on the first unofficial "Test" against Zimbabwe were dealt a major blow when the third day's play here was restricted by rain to just under 20 overs.

Zimbabwe moved from their overnight score of 95 for 6 to 147 for 7 before the rain came down after 75 minutes of play. Less than four of the 18 scheduled hours of play so far have been possible due to rain, and a draw now seems inevitable without a contrived finish.

Glamorgan's seam bowler Darren Thomas removed Bryan Strang to earn with figures of 5 for 48. Zimbabwe's Stuart Carlisle, hoping to get his full Test place back after a two-year absence, reached 46 not out.

The outfield at the Alexandra Club had turned into a lake at the end of the second day, so it was not altogether surprising that play did not begin until after lunch.

Strang and Carlisle had been compiling the largest partnership of the innings, adding 45 for the seventh wicket, when Strang edged Thomas to Andy Flintoff at second slip.

The Zimbabwe captain, Andrew Whittall, ensured that the loss would not result in further collapse by playing straight with Carlisle. By mid-afternoon, however, the rain clouds had returned, forcing the players from the field again.

Third day; England A won toss

ZIMBABWE A - First Innings

(Overnight: 95 for 6)

S V Carlisle not out 46

B C Strang c Flintoff b Thomas 23

A R Whittall not out 9

Extras (6lb 11nb) 17

Total (for 7, 52.2 overs) 147

Fall (cont): 7-114.

To bat: A Huckle, E Matambandzo.

Bowling: Betts 18-4-61-2; Flintoff 12-5-24-0; Thomas 17.2-3-48-5; Cosker 5-1-8-0.

Umpires: I D Robinson and K C Barbour.