Bell called up by England

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The Independent Online

The thrills and spills of a record-breaking Test match have taken their toll on the teams involved.

With Chris Cairns already out for the series, England have decided to play safe over Mark Butcher's cracked thumb and have called up Warwickshire's Ian Bell to join the tour in time for the second Test which starts on Thursday.

Bell, nearly 20, has been wintering in Australia with the Academy side under Rod Marsh, where he has received rave notices for his batting, which has been described as "like Atherton but with more shots". A prolific scorer with England Under-19, Bell has impressed with his maturity under pressure. The Hampshire captain, Robin Smith, currently in New Zealand, has nothing but praise for Bell, who he said had coped well under pressure from the more vocal members of his side during a county match last season.

The arrival of Bell shows how unimpressed the management here are with Usman Afzaal, who, along with James Ormond, was alluded to by the coach, Duncan Fletcher, when he spoke of his disappointment at the lack of fitness among the late arrivals.

If Butcher does not recover in time for the next Test, as seems likely given the level of discomfort he is in, Craig White is the most likely replacement, with Nasser Hussain moving back up to No 3. Although replacing a top-order batsman with an all-rounder looks odd when you are 1-0 up in the series, the injuries sustained by New Zealand's bowlers is such that there are barely any left standing. Add to that the precarious state of Daniel Vettori's back and the home side are in a mess.

With Cairns' departure to the operating table imminent, the New Zealand selectors have sent for all-rounder Chris Harris and the pace bowler Daryl Tuffey. Unless the pitch starts greener than the last one, bowling England out once, let alone twice, looks a distant fantasy.

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