'A phenomenal innings'

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The Independent Online

Mark Butcher took his batting on to another level to play one of the great innings in Ashes history at Headingley yesterday. That was the combined assessment of his captain Nasser Hussain, Australia's stand-in leader Adam Gilchrist, and of the batsman himself.

"You have periods of batting where you can't do anything wrong and you're not thinking about your technique," Butcher said, reflecting on his unbeaten 173. "You're just watching the ball and playing it and any batsman will tell you that when you get into that sort of mode that's the most perfect way for batting.

"It's fantastic to have gone from nowhere to being in the limelight again, I'm going to enjoy it, keep my feet on the ground and try and have a good game at The Oval."

His captain Hussain said: "I have seen him play as well as that but get only 20s and 30s. He has always looked an accomplished player and Duncan [Fletcher, the England coach] and I have been left scratching our heads as to why he has got out, but today he took his game on to another level in a phenomenal innings."

Gilchrist said: "That has to be one of the greatest Ashes Test innings of all time. You have to say that, especially given that he was not meant to be playing in the Test series at the start."

The reaction of the Australian team when Butcher reached his century spoke volumes over how highly they rated his batting. "I have never seen so many of our guys going up to congratulate someone at once," Gilchrist said.