England swing to innings victory
England 472 (Butcher 137) beat Zimbabwe 147 (Anderson 5-73) and 233 (Butcher 4-60) by an innings and 92 runs
England enjoyed an old-fashioned day of swing-induced dominance, as Zimbabwe fumbled to an innings and 92-run defeat in the first npower Test at Lord's. After two days of steady consolidation, England's patience paid off as 19 Zimbabwean wickets fell in the day. Travis Friend and a psychotically pumped-up Ray Price held England up for a time by adding 51 for the ninth wicket, but as had been feared in the post-Andy Flower era, Zimbabwe were woefully short of Test quality.
James Anderson: 5 for 73 on Test debut
Today there was something for everyone - Matthew Hoggard put a chastening winter behind him with three wickets in 10 overs before lunch as Zimbabwe tumbled towards the follow-on, whereupon Mark Butcher and Anthony McGrath lived up to their somewhat far-fetched allrounders' tags, sharing seven second-innings wickets between them. But almost inevitably, it was James Anderson who stole the glory, with a five-wicket haul of clinical excellence. After years of arriving at Lord's like Christians to the Colosseum, England have finally begun to appreciate their home comforts - this was their third innings victory at HQ in the last three years.
Anderson, who took his maiden Test wicket on Friday evening, was back in the limelight shortly after lunch, devastating Zimbabwe's first innings with four wickets for five runs to finish with the magnificent debut figures of 5 for 73 in 16 overs. Four of his five wickets were bowled, including two in two deliveries, one of which was a near-replica of that magnificent outswinging yorker that dispatched Yousuf Youhana at Newlands in the World Cup. And this time, there wasn't a floodlight in sight.
Zimbabwe had resumed on their overnight 48 for 1, but by lunch they were teetering on 120 for 5, after immaculate spells of outswing bowling from Hoggard and Butcher, who bowls rarely but now has a strike-rate of 54.8 - better than a host of luminaries including Chaminda Vaas and Keith Miller. When Tatenda Taibu fell to Steve Harmison, due reward for a high-kicking and hostile spell of fast bowling, Zimbabwe's last realistic hope of avoiding the follow-on had gone. It was time for Anderson to mop up.
If he had been fractionally over-eager in his earlier spells, Anderson made amends with a vengeance. Heath Streak, who had already been dropped by Ashley Giles at third slip, was bamboozled by a wicked outswinging yorker that seared past his half-formed defences to crash into middle stump. Anderson followed that with another, perfectly pitched, seaming delivery to bowl Travis Friend first-ball, and his hat-trick delivery could hardly have been bettered, zipping round the edge of Ray Price's bat for Alec Stewart to take a spectators' catch behind the stumps.
Andy Blignaut has a reputation as a big-hitter, but he was powerless to resist as Harmison roughed him up from one end and Anderson plucked him out at the other, squaring him up for Butcher to take a fine catch off a leading edge at slip. And when Doug Hondo was bowled neck-and-crop for a second-ball duck, Anderson had become the first Test debutant to take five wickets at Lord's since Dominic Cork in 1995. He will now join the list of immortals on the honours board in the dressing-room, an achievement that many cricketers have spent a lifetime pursuing.
Zimbabwe were all out for 147 in 55 overs, and Nasser Hussain didn't have to agonise for long before sending them back in. Anderson was unable to make the new ball behave quite as he would have liked, but once Zimbabwe's first-innings limpet, Dion Ebrahim, had gloved Harmison to Rob Key at short leg for 6, breakthroughs were only a matter of time.
Mark Vermeulen was one of the few Zimbabwean batsmen to avoid the ignominy of being dismissed twice in the day (he fell last night instead) and he made England toil for a time, clubbing eight fours in a brisk 61. But he became Butcher's first victim of the second innings, prodding yet another outswinger to Marcus Trescothick at slip, and Butcher pinned Stuart Carlisle lbw for 24 in his very next over.
Ashley Giles had a brief but ineffective spell, but with Butcher enjoying himself so much, it made sense for Hussain to turn to his other medium-paced bowling option, McGrath. He made an immediate impact with his Tom Moody-ish seamers, removing Taibu and Sean Ervine in the same over, before trapping Streak lbw three overs later. McGrath might have had visions of a debut five-for of his own, to add to Friday's half-century, but when Butcher bowled Blignaut for 6, Hussain returned to his main men in search of a quick finish.
Harmison quickly picked up on the merits of a full length, prising out Grant Flower for a gritty 26, but Anderson was driven from the attack as Friend and Price opted for the long handle, very much as Bryan Strang had done in the corresponding fixture three years ago. They were aided by some shoddy fielding, with Hussain missing two regulation slip catches as the shadows lengthened and the prospects of a day's golf receded, but Butcher, appropriately enough, returned to wrap up the match, as Friend squirted a catch to Giles at third slip. With five wickets and a century in the match, Butcher will rarely have it so easy again.