Cricket: Tufnell is moved to silly point: Raging spinner slips from disappointment to dissent

England 308-6 dec

St Kitts & Nevis 256-8

ST KITTS is not the kind of place where the local chemist will ever get rich on Valium sales (if they went in for twin-towning, the island capital would double up nicely with Little Snoring) but every four years or so - when the England cricket team are in town to be precise - the locals are treated to the curious sight of a deeply stressed character jumping up and down with steam coming out of his ears.

On England's last visit here, Nasser Hussain achieved the dubious distinction of having to apologise to both umpires for on-field dissent, and on the same ground yesterday, during an otherwise somnolent day's cricket, Philip Tufnell provided further evidence that he is not inclined towards philosophical shoulder-shrugging when he feels that life has dealt him an unfair hand.

Coincidentally, Hussain was the fielder involved when Tufnell's unsuccessful appeal for a bat-pad catch at silly point midway through the morning session was prolonged into an exaggerated bout of arm-waving, glaring, and a swing of the boot at some imaginary cat. Then, when the ball was finally returned to him, he flung it angrily into the ground.

Mike Atherton calmed him down with a paternal arm around the shoulder, although by the end of his own term of office, Graham Gooch appeared to be becoming more inclined towards the two hands around the neck approach. Tufnell's short fuse first blew in Australia two years ago, when he had a row with an umpire, and he was fined pounds 500 in India last winter for blowing a gasket when Richard Blakey missed a stumping.

Tufnell became irritable pretty early on yesterday, when his sixth ball resulted in an lbw appeal, and it took him some moments to realise that the umpire's upraised finger was merely to summon on the mid-morning drinks cart. Then came the bat-pad business, and not even when the same batsman, Bernette Thompson, was run out shortly afterwards did Tufnell finish letting off steam.

Robin Smith's throw arrived back at the bowler's end with Thompson about 15 yards out of his ground, and while Tufnell initially removed a bail, his opinion of the umpire's eyesight was sufficiently low by then for him to make sure by leaving the stumps looking as though they had been hit by a grenade.

There are allowances to be made here, in that pressure is high in warm-up matches, when a couple of bad games can result in three months of net practice and drinks-waiter duty. On top of which, Tufnell is something of an eccentric, as can be gleaned from last week's reply to a journalist when he was asked about the cortisone injection he had had in his left shoulder. 'It's evolution, innit? If you swim a lot, you get webbed feet. If you bowl a lot, you get a knackered shoulder.'

However, there is little doubt he overstepped the thin line between disappointment and dissent yesterday, and Tufnell might be a bigger test of Atherton's leadership qualities than any West Indian fast bowler.

Atherton has quite a collection of players here with a reputation for eccentricity, although one, Mark Ramprakash, made nothing but good impressions with a century in his first tour innings on Saturday.

England's attack initially struggled to come to terms with it as the locals were going comfortably along on 170 for 2 shortly after tea, at which point Tufnell and Angus Fraser, the pick of England's bowlers, picked up three wickets between them for two runs.

(Second day of three; England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 308 for 6 dec (M R Ramprakash 136, R A Smith 71, A J Stewart 67).

ST KITTS & NEVIS - First Innings

M Liburd run out 36

B Thompson b Tufnell 32

H Williams lbw b Tufnell 53

C Cannonier b Fraser 24

J Mitcham c Russell b Fraser 3

R Powell c Malcolm b Lewis 35

* C Tuckett lbw b Tufnell 16

L C Lake lbw Lewis 11

R Phillip not out 4

J C Maynard not out 0

Extras 42

Total (for 8) 256

Fall: 1-74 2-89 3-170 4-171 5-172 6-207 7-245 8-251.

To bat: M Mills.

Umpires: A Weekes and I Merchant.

More cricket, page 29

(Photograph omitted)

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