Awesome Hick batters New Zealand's attack

Worcestershire 270-9 dec &amp; 318-6 dec New Zealand 379-7 dec &amp; 77-1 <i>Match drawn</i>
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The Independent Online

It would be wrong to say that Rod Marsh's trip here to New Road was a waste of time. Following his visit the England selector would have been able to report that New Zealand's bowling for the coming Test series against England is workmanlike and one of their opening batsmen is struggling for form.

It would be wrong to say that Rod Marsh's trip here to New Road was a waste of time. Following his visit the England selector would have been able to report that New Zealand's bowling for the coming Test series against England is workmanlike and one of their opening batsmen is struggling for form.

But there was little Marsh could have told his fellow selectors about an enigmatic 37-year-old batsman who scored a brilliant unbeaten double hundred for Worcestershire. Graeme Hick's inability to take his county form into the Test arena has caused anguish to countless England selectors over the last 13 years but, when he plays like this, it is still hard to believe that he has not had a long and distinguished international career.

Hick will gain just a passing mention when England's selectors discuss their squad for the first Test at the end of this week but yesterday he was awesome. Few batsmen in the history of the game can have struck the ball as cleanly and powerfully as this right-hander and the Kiwi bowlers left the field in a state of bewilderment when Worcestershire declared in order to give their bowlers another run.

The New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, who spent the day watching from the stands in an effort to protect a troublesome groin injury, will be concerned by the lack of discipline shown by his attack. No bowler escaped the force of Hick's strokeplay in a special innings of 204 which contained 27 fours and eight sixes.

Hick began watchfully against Shane Bond and Daryl Tuffey, who bowled well with the new ball. Bond nearly bagged him when an inside edge just missed his leg stump, but it was a thunderous pull for six off the same bowler, which signalled Hick's intentions.

He then clattered the wayward Chris Martin for a couple of fours and a six before turning his attentions again to Bond, whom he hit for three boundaries in an over. Hick reached three figures for the 123rd time in his career with a pushed single off the left-arm spin of Daniel Vettori.

When Hick scored his 100th hundred Tom Graveney, the former Worcestershire and England batsman, took two glasses of champagne out to the middle to congratulate the batsman. Yesterday's hundred took Hick past Graveney and level with Dennis Compton in the all-time list. Only 10 players have scored more hundreds than Hick, and W G Grace, with 126, is next up the list.

After passing this landmark Hick began to enjoy himself. Martin was smashed fortwo more sixes, in a bowling display that may have cost him is place in the Test side. Vettori was hit over the ropes twice and Jacob Oram was struck straight back over his head into the stand.

A vicious pull for six took Hick past 200 for the 19th time in his career. His second hundred runs came off only 73 balls and it left the Kiwis feeling grateful that it will be a Hickless Test series that starts next week.

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