England tour lurches into disaster zone

Cricket

England 197 & 180 Mashonaland 280 & 98-3 Mashonaland win by 7 wkts

England's tour of Zimbabwe reached an early crisis point here yesterday as the humiliating seven-wicket defeat against Mashonaland brought into sharp focus the huge problems facing the team.

This winter's tour of Zimbabwe and New Zealand is intended to produce and forge a side capable of taking the Ashes back from Australia next summer. But, 10 days into the trip, two matches have been lost and almost everything has gone wrong for an England side short on confidence and inspiration and arguably denied proper preparation time by the tour planners at Lord's.

The opening four-day fixture finished a day early because England proved unable to build a decent total - not once but twice. Their bowling resources currently seem slim, too, and England now have only a one-day and a four- day fixture with Matabeleland next week in which to warm up for the international matches against Zimbabwe.

Mike Atherton, the England captain, admitted last night that his team are still "pretty rusty" but he refused to accept that, with hindsight, his players could have done with more cricket preparation before the tour and also more time to acclimatise to the heat and altitude of Zimbabwe.

During a week-long trip to Portugal in early November the England players did not do any batting or bowling practise - with Atherton and the England management insisting that they would be a better and more consistent side in the long run if they were first to improve their basic fitness levels.

Ironically, Atherton's own fitness has been compromised early on by illness and now by back worries - but the 28-year-old Lancashire batsman's main priority now must be to pick his side up after such a poor performance. Mashonaland 1996 will now take its place alongside the many other recent England cricketing embarrassments - although Atherton was quick and quite correct to point out that the Zimbabwean provincial side featured six Test players and were not "just amateurs and chicken farmers, as some sections of the media are suggesting."

The only England players to gain anything from the match were the spinners, Phil Tufnell and Robert Croft, and the batsman John Crawley, whose 74 yesterday at least gave England hope at one stage of being able to set Mashonaland some sort of target. Crawley's only mistake was to try to hit Gary Brent over mid-off in the last over before tea - a soft end to a 165-ball innings that had included a six and five fours.

England's top-order batting is desperately short of runs, with Atherton and Nick Knight particularly starved with just nine and 16 runs from three innings respectively. "There are lots of things to be worked on and at the moment we need as much cricket as we can get," the captain said. The Mashonaland team rejected an England request for a one-day match today, however, and now Atherton's squad will have a full-scale practice match at the nearby Alexandre Sports Ground in Harare.

England A win again, page 31

Harare Sports Club scoreboard

Third day of four; England won toss

ENGLAND - First Innings 197 (R D B Croft 80no; R J Kirtley 5-53).

MASHONALAND - First Innings

Overnight: 279 for 9

D Matambanadzo not out 3

R J Kirtley lbw b Tufnell 2

Extras (lb6, nb7) 13

Total (85.4 overs) 280

Bowling: Mullally 12-2-42-0; Gough 16-3-43-1; Caddick 10-2-46-0; Tufnell 25.4-7-78-5; Croft 22-4-65-4.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

N V Knight c D Campbell b Kirtley 3

*M A Atherton c D Campbell b Brent 7

A J Stewart b Kirtley 0

N Hussain lbw b P Strang 39

G P Thorpe c D Campbell b Brent 2

J P Crawley c Matambanadzo b Brent 74

R D B Croft b P Strang 3

D Gough b P Strang 12

A R Caddick c A Campbell b P Strang 28

A D Mullally c & b Brent 2

P C R Tufnell not out 2

Extras (lb6, nb2) 8

Total (71.1 overs) 180

Fall: 1-4, 2-4, 3-27, 4-29, 5-105, 6-111, 7-137, 8-159, 9-167.

Bowling: Kirtley 16-6-35-2; B C Strang 11-5-18-0; Brent 10-3-22-4; P A Strang 23.1-6-56-4; Flower 11-2-43-0.

MASHONALAND - Second Innings

G W Flower c Crawley b Mullally 2

S V Carlisle b Mullally 3

*A D R Campbell not out 53

D L Houghton c Gough b Thorpe 34

C B Wishart not out 0

Extras (lb5, nb1) 6

Total (for 3, 25.3 overs) 98

Fall: 1-6, 2-11, 3-95.

Did not bat: D J R Campbell, D Matambanadzo, P A Strang, B C Strang, G B Brent, R J Kirtley.

Bowling: Mullally 6-1-18-2; Gough 3-0-14-0; Tufnell 9-1-35-0; Croft 6.3- 0-23-0; Thorpe 1-0-3-1.

Umpires: K Kanjee and D Kalan.

MASHONALAND WON BY 7 WICKETS

ENGLAND'S NEXT TWO FIXTURES: Sunday: One-day match v Matabeleland (at Queen's Club, Bulawayo). 10-13 Dec: Three-day match v Matabeleland (at Queen's Club, Bulawayo).

Suggested Topics
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice