July 13, 2000

Pressure of pace cracks Zimbabwe

NatWest Series

Old Trafford, 30 overs: Zimbabwe 74 for six (A Flower 6, Carlisle 5)

Superb English bowling, especially by the second line of Mullally and Ealham, caused Zimbabwe to crack under the pressure at Old Trafford. Four wickets fell for only 27 runs as the tourists reverted to familiar mode after their three successive victories.

Johnson was soon peppering the covers with his trademark drives, while Whittall enjoyed a narrow escape when he slashed Gough just over the slips for four. Johnson (7) was less fortunate, though, when he flashed at Caddick in the third over and edged a catch to the keeper Stewart; 14 for one.

This slowed the scoring rate for a while, as Goodwin dug himself in. The opening attack of Caddick and Gough was accurate but not as inspired as it had been in the previous match between the teams. Then Whittall (15) was beaten by a fine delivery from Gough and given out caught at the wicket by umpire Sharp, although the replay suggested that the ball in fact hit only his pad. Zimbabwe 38 for two.

Alistair Campbell master of spin, pace - but not himself

Alistair Campbell, who a month ago was making Alan Mullally look like Bradman, emphasised a startling renewal of confidence with two quick and dynamic fours, a cut and a straight drive. His return to form has strangely coincided with his namesake close to the British government's recent 'loss of form'; the Zimbabwean Campbell is also showing himself to be a master of pace as well as spin. The fifty came up in the 14th over.

This time, though, Campbell (10) committed suicide, turning a ball to square leg and being rather too quick to seek a single. A lightning underarm flick by Trescothick found him short of his crease and Zimbabwe were in danger of losing their way at 55 for three.

Goodwin's dismissal - body blow for Zimbabwe

Mullally bowled an impressive spell as Gough was rested, frequently beating Goodwin just outside off stump. Goodwin (21) never really looked comfortable and was bowled when he tried to cut a ball from Ealham that was much too close to his body. Zimbabwe were 64 for four in the 23rd over, and England's support bowlers were doing a much better job for once.

The interesting decision was made to promote Bryan Strang, due to bat at number eleven but with an inordinate amount of confidence in his own ability. He was clearly being used as a pinch-hitter and displayed some agricultural slogs that entertained the crowd but rarely hit the ball. He missed four in succession from Mullally before dragging the last on to his off stump for one; Zimbabwe 65 for five. Without addition Grant Flower (0) flashed at Mullally and was caught by the keeper, and suddenly Zimbabwe had descended from the sublime to the ridiculous within two days. Cracking under the pressure of fine bowling, they reverted to the inconsistency they have shown all too frequently over the past twelve months.

Mullally continued to bowl superbly, very accurate and moving the ball away from the right-handers; he finished his spell with figures of 8-2-13-2. Then Gough was brought back early to try to administer the coup de grace.