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Cyclone Doull rocks England in first game loss in New Zealand

England lost the first match of their National Bank New Zealand tour in Hamilton, beaten by three wickets by Northern Districts, with five balls to spare.

A spectacular piece of pinch-hitting by former Test swing bowler Simon Doull launched ND on their pursuit of a formidable target of 289, after Nick Knight's century had formed the core of an impressive England batting performance.

Knight - century not enoughPhoto Photosport

Doull - who England knew only as a Test opening bowler - hit a one-day best 80 from 47 balls. He announced his intentions early, with six, four and six off successive balls in Andy Caddick's second over.

Sixteen came off Matthew Hoggard's fourth over, all in boundaries, the best of which was a back-foot cover drive. The first of them brought up the ND half-century.

Darren Gough replaced Caddick at the City End. He bowled quickly, but inconsistently. He did not appreciate Paul Collingwood giving away four overthrows, throwing the ball over the head of the bowler and the back-up fielder as he attempted to throw the stumps down.

Doull hit a a total of 11 fours and a six before he perished like a warrior, caught on the long-on boundary by Craig White off Collingwood. Doull's dismissal left ND needing 174 at under five an over, a rate kept under control by sensible batting.

Michael Parlane's 79 from 100 balls was the most important factor. He batted with a mixture of circumspection and controlled aggression, hitting five fours and three sixes, an outstanding effort from a player who appeared to be drifting out of the first-class game just a few weeks ago.

Grant Bradburn (43 not out) supported him admirably in a partnership of 90 for the fifth wicket. They made the decision to start the final charge immediately after the second drinks break, a decision that caught England by surprise.

Three wickets fell quickly at the end, before Bradburn hit Jeremy Snape over long off for six to finish the match.

With the exception of White England's bowlers lacked control, some being carried away by the pace of the Hamilton pitch after India's slow surfaces. The fielding was also suffering from a little jet-lag.

Earlier, the batting had been more impressive, after they were put in by ND captain Robbie Hart.

Marcus Trescothick got the innings off to a rousing start, taking six fours off the opening attack of Daryl Tuffey and Joseph Yovich as England set off at six an over. He dominated an opening partnership of 60 with Knight.

The England skipper began to show signs of frailty with the introduction of 20-year-old pace bowler Ian Butler, whose speed induced two false shots from Trescothick in his first over.

Unsettled, Trescothick fell to Graham Aldridge in the next over, caught low by Bradburn at first slip for 38.

The impressive Butler struck in the 19th over having Michael Vaughan caught behind for 12 off a cracker that climbed and left him. This was the only period of the innings in which the bowlers contained the batsmen, with only 35 runs scored in 10 overs after the lifting of the fielding restrictions.

At this point the third-wicket stand between Knight and Graham Thorpe gained momentum. Forty-two runs came from the next five overs.

The partnership had reached 98 when Thorpe was out for 40, caught at deep square-leg by Matthew Hart to give Aldridge his second wicket. Thorpe scored 40 in 55 balls including three fours, putting on 98 for the third wicket with Knight.

This brought Owais Shah to the middle, an event in itself. He has appeared in only one of the 11 One-Day Internationals that England have played in Zimbabwe and India over the past few months, despite being a member of the squad throughout.

He made the most of his opportunity, scoring a fluent 31 from 32 balls including a towering six that scored a direct hit on a spectator sitting at deep square leg.

But it was Knight who dominated. He moved from 90 to 96 with a hook off Aldridge, reaching his hundred in the 41st over. He celebrated with a third six, lifted effortlessly over midwicket.

Michael Vaughan avoids a short onePhoto Photosport

Knight was out for 126 from 128 balls, including 11 fours and four sixes. It was an innings of a batsman in prime form. He displayed a great range of shots, some from the textbook, some improvised.
White, playing his first innings since rejoining the tour, was run out for a duck from his first ball. Snape and Collingwood scavenged sensibly at the end of the innings.

England's 288 seemed likely to be more than enough against an ND side that has batted inconsistently this year, but that was to reckon without a whirlwind called Doull.

England's acting captain Trescothick, was not too disheartened at the end of the match.

"Our bowlers didn't bowl as well as they can, our fielders didn't field as well as they can, but it wasn't dreadful."

Were the bowlers over-excited by discovering a pitch with genuine pace?

"There's probably something in that. It cheers the bowlers up to see a bit of pace. We did bowl a bit short and that was one of the reasons."

Trescothick shouldered the burdens of captaincy and keeping wicket in this match.

"It was difficult doing both, but I was excited about being captain and excited about keeping wicket."

He dropped a hint that he might continue behind the stumps in the forthcoming ODI series.

"I enjoy keeping wicket, though I haven't done it for years. If I'm going to do it a bit more, there's a lot of practice to be done."

ND skipper Robbie Hart was jubilant when he spoke to CricInfo. He always believed that victory was possible, even chasing a score as big as 288.

"It's a great deck here, but it needed special innings' from Doull, Parlane and Bradburn. Simon Doull has such a great eye."

He praised Parlane and Bradburn for taking responsibility and going flat out for the target straight after the second drinks. Hart smiled broadly as he talked about what the place of the victory in his career.

"Every time I play for ND I'm proud, but its great to beat England."

The two teams meet again in a day match on Sunday.