Stewart and Hussain find form with centuries: Cricket

NZ Select XI 138 and 25-1 England 427-8 dec
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Nasser Hussain yesterday admitted England's batsmen did not apply themselves in Zimbabwe as well as they should have done.

The England vice-captain promised New Zealand would see a completely different team from that which ended the opening leg of this winter's tour in such disarray. "New Zealand players like Chris Cairns will have looked at the results of the last couple of one-day games and wondered what was happening as they have been over in England and seen us play.

"They know we are decent cricketers and that those last couple of games were a bit of a blip. I think we should have applied ourselves a bit more in Harare as batsmen, but in Test terms only in the first innings of the Harare Test do I think we let ourselves down as a batting unit."

Hussain returned to form here with 139 as England piled up 427 for 8 declared for a first-innings lead of 289. With Alec Stewart making 153 and John Crawley an effortless 35, it also put into sharp relief the batting struggles of Mike Atherton.

"It should be blatantly clear the team are 100 per cent behind Mike Atherton at present," Hussain added. "He's a class player and a top captain, and nobody has said anything against him. I know as a batsman people around you may try to lift you, but you must do it yourself and Mike has steel. We would not be at all surprised if he went to Auckland for the first Test in a week or so and made a ton."

Atherton, who made seven when England's innings began on Monday and who has passed 50 just once this winter, is unlikey to get another chance to bat here, and both he and Graham Thorpe will be desperate for a big score in Hamilton where England play Northern Districts.

Thorpe lobbed up a simple catch to midwicket, splicing a pull, after making just six from 16 balls. Hussain and Stewart added 205 before the Surrey captain retired hurt with a phantom hamstring injury during the mid-afternoon drinks break.

Stewart had been the initial aggressor after resuming on 75 with England 154 for 3. In all, he struck two sixes and 20 fours in an innings which confirmed his fine form after a successful time in Zimbabwe.

Hussain accelerated in classic fashion during the course of his innings. His first 50 took 135 balls, but in all he faced 236 deliveries - his last 39 runs occupied only 26 balls - with three successive fours preceding his dismissal to a skied thrash at the off-spinner Paul Wiseman.

England's declaration left the Select XI with only 55 minutes batting at the end of the third day, but Dominic Cork struck an important blow by having the prospective Test opener, Craig Spearman, caught in the gully as he sliced a drive at an away-swinger.

Third day of four; England won toss

NZ SELECT XI - First Innings 138 (C White 4-15).

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 154 for 3)

A J Stewart retired hurt 153

N Hussain c Horne b Wiseman 139

G P Thorpe c Morrison b Kennedy 6

J P Crawley c Kennedy b Morrison 35

C White c Spearman b Wiseman 10

D G Cork not out 0

C E W Silverwood c Vaughan b Morrison 4

Extras (lb9 w4 nb7) 20

Total (for 8 dec, 113.5 overs) 427

Fall (cont): 4-321, 5-411, 6-423, 7-423, 8-427.

Did not bat: P C R Tufnell.

Bowling: Morrison 28.5-6-81-4; Kennedy 21-3-80-2; Vaughan 22-4-84-0; Wiseman 17-2-83-2; Haslam 25-7-90-0.

NZ SELECT XI - Second Innings

C J Spearman c Atherton b Cork 6

B A Pocock not out 11

A C Parore not out 8

Extras 0

Total (for 1, 14 overs) 25

Fall: 1-6.

To bat: L G Howell, M A Horne, *M J Greatbatch, J T C Vaughan, P J Wiseman, M J Haslam, R J Kennedy, D K Morrison.

Bowling: Cork 6-1-17-1; Caddick 5-3-3-0; Silverwood 2-1-4-0; Tufnell 1-0-1-0.

Umpires: S Dunne and D Quested.