England 'A' Tour: Franks on way to wet zone (9 February 1999)

9 February 1999

England 'A' Tour: Franks on way to wet zone

By Charles Randall in Bulawayo

THE CALL-UP of Paul Franks for the England A tour of southern Africa would probably have arrived earlier if there had been more cricket played in the first month, but the Nottinghamshire seam bowler flies out from London tomorrow with enough time to make his mark.

Franks will be exchanging the frost and drizzle of home for a taste of the ITCZ, the inter-tropical convergence zone, which has churned out good solid tropical downpours.

With so much rain in Zimbabwe, the tour schedule has caused frustration but has posed no endurance questions - there have been barely eight days' cricket in a month and little net practice.

Yet Paul Hutchison has already returned to Yorkshire to rest his back, and Melvyn Betts's groin injury is potentially serious.

Jason Lewry and Steve Harmison are due to form England's new-ball attack in the second five-day Test against Zimbabwe A, starting at the Queens ground in Bulawayo today, but even these two have suffered niggling leg injuries attempting to practise on muddy turf in Harare.

Franks, 20 last Wednesday, was unlucky not to make the original A tour squad as an important contributor to England's under-19 world cup victory in South Africa last year, followed by his 52 championship wickets last summer.

Today's five-dayer at Queens, where David Lloyd uttered his notorious "we murdered 'em" as England's senior coach after the drawn Test two years ago, might also be affected by rain.

A weekend downpour enveloped Bulawayo, but one spectacular thunderstorm resembling an artillery barrage did miss the city on Sunday night. There should be more cricket than the one-and-a-half days possible for the first Test in Harare.

Franks becomes available for the three one-day games against the Zimbabwe A team next week and for South African sunshine in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Zimbabwe A (from): *A R Whittall, T R Gripper, C B Wishart, S V Carlisle, D P Viljoen, T N Madondo, G J Whittall, B C Strang, E Matambanadzi, A J MacKay, A M Blignaut, -C P Gurr, B Watambwa, A G Huckle.

England A (from): *M P Vaughan, D L Maddy, R W T Key, M B Loye, M G N Windows, A Flintoff, V S Solanki, G P Swann, -C M W Read, S D Thomas, D A Cosker, J D Lewry, S J Harmison.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)