White rose fails to blossom for Fletcher

Lancashire 336-6 v Yorkshire
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The Independent Online

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, was among the capacity crowd watching the first day of the 236th Roses match. The squad for the third Test against Australia is chosen today. He did not have a good day.

He came to see Chris Silverwood, who was a possibility as England's third fast bowler. Silverwood bowled in the nets and took fielding practice but, mysteriously, was not selected. The slight twinge that kept him out of Wednesday's defeat by Warwickshire has now become a back strain and, presumably, rules him out.

If he came to see Darren Gough and Craig White recover their Test match form then he was again disappointed. Again Gough did not bowl badly but with one wicket in his first 15 overs, and that by a catch at deep square leg off a mis-hook, was disappointing. Later with the new ball he took three wickets in four balls to save his face. White has lost his edge and Yorkshire cannot be expected to continue selecting him before Gavin Hamilton.

Fletcher would certainly have come to see Steve Kirby. The red-haired ripper did discomfort Mike Atherton twice, with one ball that suddenly lifted to whistle past his nose and another that darted nastily into his pads. He has still an awful lot to learn when it comes to bowling to good batsmen on flat surfaces.

The ground, which is three-quarters closed because of reconstruction and Test match preparation, will have looked odd to visitors, but John Crawley beamed when he called correctly. Batting first on this pitch, with a hint of turn to come, was a stroke of luck. Not that good fortune followed Mark Chilton. He played down a ball that rolled to the foot of the stump and, in trying to push it away, dislodged a bail. Atherton went to drive a wide ball and was held, off a bullet to the throat, at second slip. Crawley made the definitive contribution, driving and cutting some loose bowling.

Andy Flintoff, sternly responsible, spent 24 overs over 12 runs before, going back to steer a wide ball, he edged to slip. Joe Scuderi arrived as Yorkshire seemed unable to find line or length and fired off 10 boundaries at a run a ball, while Crawley, who must have been short odds for a century, was caught and bowled by the off-spinner Richard Dawson.

Warren Hegg and Chris Schofield added 115 in 31 overs and Yorkshire were looking like ragged-trousered philanthropists rather than potential champions.