Vaughan dashes off as England struggle

New Zealand 351-6 v England

There were times yesterday when Michael Vaughan must have felt like walking off the field but until he received a message informing him that his pregnant wife had been taken to hospital for the imminent arrival of their first child, the England captain did not have the excuse he needed. For the majority of this extended day England looked lethargic and it was slightly ironic that Vaughan began the 40-mile dash to Sheffield when his side were beginning to regain some of the ground they had given away far too easily.

There were times yesterday when Michael Vaughan must have felt like walking off the field but until he received a message informing him that his pregnant wife had been taken to hospital for the imminent arrival of their first child, the England captain did not have the excuse he needed. For the majority of this extended day England looked lethargic and it was slightly ironic that Vaughan began the 40-mile dash to Sheffield when his side were beginning to regain some of the ground they had given away far too easily.

Vaughan left the field at 6.20pm, with the New Zealanders on 291 for 5, and further good news came as he was driving out of the car park. Vaughan would have heard the cheers of the crowd as Andrew Flintoff dismissed the impressive Jacob Oram.

This was England's fourth wicket - taken with the second new ball - but their last of the day and they will need to show greater industry throughout the remainder of this game if they are to prevent New Zealand levelling this three-Test series.

England supporters have become accustomed to watching their bowlers perform to a high standard but yesterday, on a pitch offering plenty of assistance, they were disappointing. New Zealand, through a stodgy partnership of 169 between Stephen Fleming and Michael Papps, found blunting England's attack far simpler than they should have and by the close had reached the strong position of 351 for 6.

With Chris Cairns and Brendon McCullum still at the crease and Daniel Vettori to come the tourists will be hoping to take their total past 400, a score which will give them an excellent chance of sending England to their third successive defeat at Headingley.

England only have themselves to blame for their precarious position. If Vaughan's side had taken all the chances which came their way they would have dismissed New Zealand for a competitive, rather than a potentially match-winning total.

There was no shortage of effort from Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Flintoff and Martin Saggers but their bowling was too wayward and generally lacked thought. Between them they failed to deliver enough balls which would have hit the stumps.

England's shortcomings were capitalised on by Fleming. The New Zealand captain spent much of last summer playing for Yorkshire and yesterday he used this experience to good effect. He left the ball magnificently and waited until the bowlers strayed on to his legs - an area where he is particularly strong - or over-pitched before collecting his runs.

Fleming also made the most of the occasional long-hop which came his way and twice pulled Hoggard viciously over mid-wicket for four. These ought to have been conditions in which the Yorkshire seamer thrived but he was the poorest member of England's attack.

The season of 2003 was Fleming's second playing county cricket. The 31-year-old spent his first, in 2001, with Middlesex, where one of his aims was to turn fifties into hundreds. Since his time in London Fleming's conversion rate has improved but after being dismissed for 97 he will be aware that he still has some work to do.

Fleming's chip to Vaughan at mid-off started a mini collapse. Three balls later Nathan Astle was brilliantly caught by a diving Mark Butcher when he cut Saggers through gully and Scott Styris followed when he pushed at a ball from Harmison that he should have left alone.

This brought Cairns to Oram's side and the two talented all-rounders threatened to cause havoc. Cairns struck Ashley Giles for two boundaries in an over and Oram collected runs with ease until he gave Flintoff his second wicket as he was well caught by Graham Thorpe at second slip. But this loss failed to prevent the score from rattling along. Brendon McCullum continued the form which brought him 96 runs at Lord's and struck several glorious boundaries against a tiring attack.

The first 61 overs were far calmer as Fleming and Papps doggedly built a platform for the stroke-makers to come. Papps, playing in only his fourth Test match, is not blessed with a wide array of attacking shots and at times his resolute batting made Mark Richardson - who scored 195 painstaking runs in the first Test at Lord's - look like Brian Lara.

Occasionally the opener would open his shoulders and pushed fullish deliveries through mid-on for three but the majority of his 86 runs were scored via nudges to fine leg and dabs or edges to third man. The diminutive right-hander was dropped twice by England on Thursday and survived another chance yesterday when Giles missed him in the gully on 36.

What Papps lacks in talent he more than makes up for in application and courage and these escapes did not disturb his concentration. The 24-year-old took several nasty blows on the hand during his gutsy innings but showed no pain, even though he was sent to hospital with a suspected break on the knuckle of his left hand last night.

Despite this he looked set to post his first Test hundred before being beaten by a Flintoff yorker. By this stage England were trying every tactic they could to break the partnership.

But it was Flintoff, bowling around the wicket, who made the vital breakthrough when he struck Papps on the boot. It is difficult for right-arm bowlers to win lbw appeals using this tactic but Simon Taufel was right to give the batsman out; it showed why he is regarded as the best umpire in the world.

Headingley Scoreboard

England won toss

New Zealand - First Innings

(Overnight: 41 for 1)

M H Richardson b Saggers 13

60 min, 49 balls, 2 fours

M H W Papps lbw b Flintoff 86

323 min, 232 balls, 9 fours

*S P Fleming c Vaughan b Harmison 97

296 min, 227 balls, 10 fours

N J Astle c Butcher b Saggers 2

37 min, 19 balls

S B Styris c Jones b Harmison 21

78 min, 52 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

J D P Oram c Thorpe b Flintoff 39

109 min, 74 balls, 3 fours, 1 six

C L Cairns not out 41

84 min, 53 balls, 5 fours

ÝB B McCullum not out 31

51 min, 38 balls, 5 fours

Extras (b5 lb14 w2 nb0) 21

Total (for 6, 521 min, 124 overs) 351

Fall: 1-33 (Richardson) 2-202 (Papps) 3-215 (Fleming) 4-215 (Astle) 5-263 (Styris).

To bat: D L Vettori, D R Tuffey, C S Martin.

Bowling: Hoggard 23-4-78-0 (3-1-8-0, 7-1-25-0, 5-1-11-0, 3-0-19-0, 5-1-15-0); Harmison 31-7-65-2 (w1) (7-2-13-0, 6-2-13-0, 3-0-5-0, 4-1-3-0, 4-2-6-1, 5-0-19-1, 2-0-6-0); Flintoff 23-7-52-2 (2-1-2-0, 5-1-18-0, 2-1-3-0, 5-3-2-1, 5-0-15-0, 4-1-12-1); Saggers 24-6-64-2 (w1) (8-1-14-1, 6-2-7-0, 7-3-17-1, 3-0-26-0); Trescothick 2-0-3-0 (one spell); Giles 19-1-67-0 (1-0-1-0, 11-1-35-0, 2-0-18-0, 5-0-13-0); Vaughan 2-0-3-0 (one spell).

Progress: First day: rain delayed start until 1.10pm (min 83 overs). Rain stopped play 2.19-4.43pm 36-1 (Papps 20, Fleming 2) 17 overs. Bad light stopped play 4.52pm-close 41-1 (Papps 24, Fleming 3) 19 overs. Second day (min 105 overs): 50: 92 min, 22.1 overs. 100: 148 min, 35.4 overs. Lunch: 127-1 (Papps 49, Fleming 51) 49 overs. 150: 243 min, 59.5 overs. 200: 313 min, 77.2 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 202-2. Tea: 206-2 (Fleming 89, Astle 1) 86 overs. 250: 418 min, 100.5 overs. 300: 479 min, 113.3 overs. 350: 519 min, 123.2 overs.

Papps' 50: 209 min, 141 balls, 5 fours. Fleming' 50: 135 min, 107 balls, 6 fours.

England: M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, M A Butcher, *M P Vaughan, G P Thorpe, A Flintoff, ÝG O Jones, A F Giles, M J Hoggard, M J Saggers, S J Harmison.

Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and S J A Taufel (Aus).

TV replay umpire: N J Llong.

Match referee: C H Lloyd.

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