Lloyd insists second leg of tour starts today

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England's players have been told they froze "like rabbits in the headlights" by their coach, David Lloyd, who has used team meetings following yesterday's five-run defeat against Zimbabwe to hammer home the message that he expects a vast improvement in today's final one-day international here.

Lloyd is still angry about his side's display on New Year's Day. "Tomorrow is not like an end-of-season knockabout, with nothing at stake," Lloyd said yesterday about a game which is now technically academic, with Zimbabwe 2-0 up in the three-match series. "I'm looking for the right reaction from our players and they should be shooting right out of the traps for this game. As far as I am concerned, and the players know this, the second leg of our tour starts tomorrow, not in New Zealand next week.

"These are professional England players and they have to show they can perform. I don't think, if you look at these two sides, that you can say that Zimbabwe are a better team than England," Lloyd added. "We had the upper hand in both Test matches, but we have played diabolically in the two one-day internationals.

"Yesterday we got ourselves into position several times to win the game but we bottled it. We bottled out. It was a freeze situation, like rabbits in the headlights."

England have named the same team for today's match, which looked to be in some doubt early yesterday when heavy thunderstorms hit Harare. By late afternoon, however, the rain had passed, but any more rain overnight could cause problems.

Lloyd said there had been no thought of dropping Mike Atherton, and he confirmed that the captain was better suited to the No 5 position for this match. "He's not in the best of form and his feet are not going in the right place at the moment," Lloyd admitted, "but I've every confidence that he will come through it. With the form that he's in, and with the conditions here of slow pitches and slow outfields, I think that there is more advantage in him batting at No 5. We've also been pleased with the way Nick Knight and Alec Stewart have performed at the top of the order in the first 15 overs."

Lloyd also expanded on two particular aspects of England's display on Wednesday which displeased him: the bowling of 10 wides and three no-balls and then the failure of the batsmen to take charge of the run chase. "It didn't appear from the outside that we had a game plan but we do chat and plan ahead," Lloyd said. "But there were a couple of partnerships out there where both batsmen were playing the anchor role. When John Crawley and Nasser Hussain were together, for instance, we scored only 14 runs in eight overs at one stage."

Lloyd said that he was determined to get on with his job of trying to produce a successful England team: "It's up to me to tackle it, that's the job I'm doing and that's the challenge. Of course I feel frustration and I can accept an off day. But we have too many."

England's coach also defended the decision to give his players a day off yesterday instead of calling a net session: "After playing a one-day international, players are tired - in fact they should be shattered. You have to have your rest days afterwards."

ENGLAND (One-day international v Zimbabwe, Harare, today): N V Knight, A J Stewart (wkt), J P Crawley, N Hussain, M A Atherton (capt), R C Irani, C White, R D B Croft, D Gough, C E W Silverwood, A D Mullally.

Surrey wicketkeeper dies, page 25

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