'I'm getting the breaks'

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The Independent Online
GUY HODGSON

Nothing, it seems, quite gets up Dominic Cork's nose as being compared to Ian Botham. It is too much of a burden, he argues, to be held up to the finest all-rounder England has produced. He cannot bat as well as the great man for a start and he cannot catch flies in the slips either.

The bowling is a slightly different matter, however, particularly as Cork entered the record books yesterday with a swagger worthy of Clint Eastwood entering a Western saloon. Already the possessor of the best figures by an England debutant (7 for 43 at Lord's last month), he added the first Test hat-trick by an Englishman for 38 years.

Botham, for all his 383 Test wickets, could not manage that and even his capacity for seizing the moment could not have improved the timing. Strike early then dominate had been England's plan: Richie Richardson, Junior Murray and Carl Hooper in the pavilion by 11.10am exceeded all expectations.

All three dismissals were the result of Cork's ability to deviate from his stock outswinger by cutting the ball in off the seam. The first moved enough to clip Richardson's pad and bat on the way to the wicket while the next two trapped Murray and Hooper leg before.

"Everything I do is going my way at the moment," the Derbyshire all- rounder, who is playing in only his third Test, said. "I had a bit of luck with the first when Richie played on, but I wasn't going to call him back. The next two reversed back on them. I thought they were plumb.

"As I came into Hooper my thought was to pitch the ball up and hope to get a catch or a leg before. From where I bowl [close to the stumps] there's always a chance of an lbw. I'm just getting the breaks at the moment. There'll be plenty of days when I won't be getting wickets or making runs."

The value of Cork's contribution became more apparent as the day drew on and England struggled to reach their target of 94. Another 60 runs, Richardson, the West Indies captain, estimated could have been enough to apply pressure on England, particularly as Robin Smith would not have batted again owing to a depressed fracture of his cheekbone that will keep him out of cricket for up to six weeks.

"We needed someone to stay with Brian Lara," Richardson said, "and no one could. We bowled well but our batting let us down. We don't seem to be able to make big totals to put pressure on opponents.

"Cork has made a difference to England. There's huge determination in his face. You can see it when he is batting or bowling. He wants to do well. He has a great fire in him and it inspires his team-mates."

Mike Atherton, the England captain, was also effusive. "He's going through a golden spell at the moment," he said. "We wanted an early breakthrough and Dominic got us on our way. Things seem to happen when he has the ball. We had a little wobble towards the end but I think we deserved the victory because we had dominated for four days."

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