Rhodes hits stride

Worcestershire 397 v Young Australia
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The Independent Online
WORCESTERSHIRE were 142-1 at lunch, cruising along, when the sunny sky fell down, losing four wickets for five runs in six overs to pace. It needed an Australian, the Worcestershire captain Tom Moody, and Steve Rhodes to restore balance on a good pitch, the England wicket-keeper punishing a tiring attack, to reach his career-best score.

Australia cannot wait to duff up the Poms on a biennial basis, so are now invading in the intervening years. This band is known as Young Australia, the country's Cricket Board feeling that Australia "A" had too high a profile after their exploits in the World Series Cup last winter.

These Aussies wear aggressive mustard-yellow caps; goatee beards are favoured, as if the cast of The Three Musketeers had taken up cricket. Public relations on both sides needed smartening. The good crowd had no clues as to Australian identity other than names on a scorecard, while the scoreboard rarely had the correct bowlers posted - at one point Brad Williams was bowling from both ends.

All four Australian quicks looked distinctly useful. They were supported by some fierce ground fielding, Ricky Ponting running out Gavin Haynes to start the collapse.

Tim Curtis looked set for a handsome score until he was caught at first slip. After Haynes, Matthew Church and Stuart Lampitt both fell to close catches off Shaun Young, a rhythmical Tasmanian who rested on 3-22 in 14 overs,while Phil Weston, after a six and six fours, was another victim for Adam Gilchrist, a neat wicketkeeper.

Moody stopped the rot, before he was run out. Rhodes and Neal Radford then gave a reminder that Australian spinners, Shane Warne apart, are mere mortals, 118 coming in 26 overs. Rhodes, pulling and driving zestfully, reached his hundred with a straight six off Peter McIntyre.