CRICKET: England Adopt the Australian Approach

By Pringle, Derek | The Independent (London, England), November 2, 2001 | Go to article overview
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CRICKET: England Adopt the Australian Approach


Pringle, Derek, The Independent (London, England)


Bombay Pres XI 373-5 dec England 370-5 Match drawn

NASSER HUSSAIN has long been an admirer of the Australian way of playing cricket. Against a Bombay side fielding five Test players, that ideal came a little closer after England's batsmen - mainly through the mighty striking of Craig White and the captain himself - dominated an experienced attack to the point where, had it gone on much longer, a white flag might have been required.

Apart from making the England bowlers feel better about themselves after 370 runs were scored in 90 overs, all but one of the top seven felt the ball off the middle of the bat. It also revealed England's intent to take on the spinners, although those who came out swinging need to be wary - India's spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble have countered such tactics before.

In fact Australia's plan of attacking with big shots, something England emulated here, eventually let them down against India last February, and after going 1-0 up they went on to lose the series 2- 1. England, by contrast, bided their time in Pakistan and Sri Lanka last winter and won both series. So this was a departure, and one perhaps influenced by losing so heavily to Steve Waugh's side in the summer. If it is, it has risk attached, as Marcus Trescothick, caught off a skied slog-sweep for a fine 60, found to his cost.

Not so White, who has not picked up a bat in earnest since mid- September. Yet lack of use has not dulled his instincts against spin, and his nimble feet and clean striking were impressive. Coming in to bat with Mark Ramprakash after both Hussain and Graham Thorpe had retired at tea, the all-rounder laid waste to a tiring attack which included three bowlers of Test experience. The assault which included five huge sixes, one of which hit the stadium roof - something Hussain also achieved in his aggressive but not entirely seamless 70 - was breathtaking in a manner managed by few since Ian Botham scythed his last boundary.

In one over off Nilesh Kulkarni, a tall, wafer-thin left-arm spinner who played one Test against Australia, White struck 24 runs with such power that neither the bowler nor a spread field could do anything about it. It made his partner, Ramprakash, playing with assured ease and impressive technique, seem almost pedestrian by comparison.

Earlier, when Mark Butcher marched out to start the innings with Trescothick, England unveiled their favoured opening pairing for the Tests.

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