Rookie tourist's water torture

Teething problems for new England paceman Silverwood as Zimbabwe's rainy season claims its first abandonment of tour
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Chris Silverwood's disappointing first day as an England cricketer ended with a video teaching lesson on the basics of fast bowling.

Silverwood's chastening experience came after a prolonged torrential downpour, plus thunder and lightning of frightening strength, cut short England's Zimbabwe tour opener at the Harare South Country Club yesterday. A Districts XI had been pegged to 198 for 9 from 45.3 of their scheduled 50 overs when the storms came, leaving the outfield at a picturesque tree- ringed ground resembling a lake and the match abandoned.

Silverwood, the 21-year-old Yorkshire paceman who was a surprise choice for the tour ahead of the likes of Dean Headley and Glen Chapple, had some choppy waters to negotiate himself after returning to the England dressing-room with figures of 1 for 48 from his 9.3 overs. He later recovered some ground with the wicket of John Rennie.

The England coach David Lloyd said that he had immediately taken Silverwood to one side for some reminders. "He was obviously very nervous because it was his first time in an England shirt but he'll have to get rid of those nerves. I think he was expecting too much of himself. You are never going to come in on a pitch like that having not played since September and knock three or four batsmen over by bowling the way he did.

"We went through things on the video I make of all the bowlers during games. So he could see that his follow-through, for instance, was damn near non-existent. But I'm sure he will grow in confidence."

Silverwood also conceded 9 of England's 18 wides , although this should not deflect from an otherwise respectable opening performance from England. Tidy bowling from the off-spinner Robert Croft and the new-ball pair of Alan Mullally and Darren Gough was backed-up by some outstanding catches, notably from Nasser Hussain, Nick Knight and Graham Thorpe.

Lloyd was happy none the less: "If we were only going to get half a game then it was much better that we bowled. We needed to run around in the heat because it was very hot before that rain arrived.

"Today has helped to build up a bit of stamina in the field. I thought we did pretty well but the match showed too that we still have some work to do, and understandably so since this was the first match since the end of September. Croft settled in particularly well and controlled the situation during his spell while Ronnie Irani got his reward for two or three very good overs."

Lloyd said England's players were not too concerned about being out on the field as the lightning arrived before the rain, which eventually produced two and a quarter inches of water in an hour.

More people are killed by lightning in southern Africa than anywhere else in the world, with strikes notorious in Zimbabwe. The umpires Quentin Goosen and Graeme Evans could perhaps have brought the players off before the first drops of heavy rain. About 20 minutes of cricket was played in appalling light before the terminal downpour.

But Lloyd said: "It's not an issue. We were pleased, however, to get back into the pavilion when the lightning really began. I believe someone was killed a few days ago by a lightning strike on the golf course which neighbours this ground."

Today's bad weather serves as a reminder to tour planners at Lord's that late November and December, traditionally the rainy season in Zimbabwe, might not be the best time to visit.

Andy Caddick, who has hardly practised since arriving on Tuesday because of illness, is still hoping to play in today's one-day match against a President's XI.

England won toss

Districts XI

G J Whittall c Stewart b Irani 58

M H Dekker c Irani b Mullally 13

J M Oates c Hussain b Croft 8

C N Evans c Knight b Irani 6

G K Bruk-Jackson c Thorpe b Irani 6

G J Rennie c Stewart b Mullally 32

J A Rennie c Atherton b Silverwood 20

R D Brown c Stewart b Gough 0

E A Brandes not out 18

B C Strang b Mullally 13

T D Coughlan not out 0

Extras (lb6 w18) 24

Total (for 9, 45.3 overs) 198

Fall: 1-40, 2-71, 3-90, 4-100, 5-121, 6-162, 7-164, 8-167, 9-197

Bowling: Mullally 9-1-35-3, Gough 8-1-29-1, Silverwood 9.3-0-48-1, Croft 10-1-34-1, Irani 9-0-46-3.

England: A J Stewart, N V Knight, *M A Atherton, G P Thorpe, N Hussain, J P Crawley, R C Irani, D Gough, R D B Croft, C E W Silverwood, A D Mullally.

Umpires: Q J Coosen and G Evans.