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Toss: England. Test debut: D. Gough.
England duly made certain of their first home series victory since 1990. But they were denied a more emphatic 2-0 margin on the final two days by a combination of inclement weather and a fighting century from Crowe, in what he predicted would be his final appearance on English soil. Crowe began his match-saving innings late on the third afternoon, after England enforced the follow-on with a lead of 231. When he was finally caught at slip off Defreitas for 115, nearly 70 hours later (there was again a rest day to avoid a clash with the men's final at Wimbledon), New Zealand were in sight of safety.
Winning the toss after nine successive international failures, Atherton had no hesitation in batting first. England included the off-spinner, Such, ahead of leg-spinner Salisbury on a hard surface expected to produce more bounce than turn. England also gave a Test debut to the 23-year-old Yorkshireman, Gough, dispensing with Taylor's services after just one Test. Lacking the power to extract any pace from the pitch, the limited New Zealand attack concentrated on a tight off-stump line throughout the opening day, frustrating English batsmen. Most of them paid for impatience. Atherton's superior powers of concentration allowed him to reach 96 by the close, but he was not impressed by the rashness of Stewart, Smith and Hick, which caused England to limp to 104 for four; they advanced painfully to 199 after 90 overs.
Atherton's seventh Test century was completed early on the second day, but 20 minutes later he became a third victim for Nash, the hero of Lord's, who again had good batsmen in difficulties. However, England's fortunes were revived in a dashing eighth-wicket partnership of 130 between Gough and Defreitas, who, for once, played to his potential under pressure, while Gough answered Illingworth's call for bowlers who could put a sting in the tail. Gough's primary function, however, was that of strike bowler and he needed only five deliveries to fulfil it. Bowling short and sharp, he homed in on the gloves of the experienced Greatbatch - recalled despite a poor tour in place of the injured Pocock - and Hick at second slip accepted a gentle catch.
Suddenly there was variety and vigour in the English attack: Gough's pace and useful yorker were complemented by the outswing of Defreitas and White's subtle change of pace. By lunch on Saturday, New Zealand were all out, with those three seamers sharing the wickets. The juggled catch which Gooch accepted off Rutherford was his 100th in Test cricket. Only Crowe, who made 70, put up real resistance, despite feeling side effects from medication for pre-Test flu. England had earlier objected to his being substituted full-time in the field.
New Zealand's second innings began with another early wicket from Defreitas, who trapped Young l. b. w. in his second over. By tea, at 75 for four, a finish inside three days looked possible. But the England attack ran out of steam, as Crowe, Thomson and Parore added 130 in the final session. Still, with two days remaining, their efforts seemed to be a final act of desperation.
After a rest day of uninterrupted sunshine, Manchester lived up to its sodden reputation. Only 18.5 overs were possible on the fourth day, after the morning was washed out, and England failed to take a wicket. The weather was, if anything, brighter as the final day dawned but, though play started promptly, rain intervened twice before lunch. In between the interruptions, Parore fell to an athletic gully catch by Gooch. He and Crowe had added 141, a record for New Zealand's sixth wicket against England. Finally, Crowe, who had completed his 17th Test century in four and a half hours, was taken at slip off the bowling of Defreitas. But he had created a mood of defiance among his team-mates and Hart and Nash figured in a 21-run stand, before it rained again. Play ended at 3.20 p.m. and was abandoned an hour later. Over two innings, Crowe, almost single-handed, kept the England pace attack at bay. However, the match award went to Defreitas, who was also England's Man of the Series, for his new all-round consistency.
Man of the Match: P. A. J. DeFreitas.
Attendance: 41,857; receipts £591,492.
Men of the Series: England - P. A. J. DeFreitas; New Zealand - D. J. Nash.
Close of play: First day, England 199-4 (M. A. Atherton 96*, C. White 42*); Second day, New Zealand 84-4 (M. D. Crowe 33*, M. N. Hart 0*); Third day, New Zealand 205-5 (M. D. Crowe 65*, A. C. Parore 50*); Fourth day, New Zealand 253-5 (M. D. Crowe 94*, A. C. Parore 66*).