Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

King Richard Rules as Zimbabwe Wilt

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

King Richard Rules as Zimbabwe Wilt

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

So often the brides- maid, Richard Johnson finally became the bowling bride in one of the most spectacular English Test debuts in hsitory yesterday afternoon.

Johnson, who finished the first innings with 6-33, was the sharpest point of a bowling attack which sliced through Zimbabwe with ruthless superiority.

The 28-year-old's figures were the seventh best from an England debut-maker as the tourists were bowled out for 94 in less than 33 overs, 322 runs short of England's total in just under two-and-a-quarter hours.

His first over in Test cricket brought him two wickets in as many balls, but as Zimbabwe withered in the North-East sunshine events rapidly entered the realms of fantasy.

With England's new star James Anderson also pitching in with a couple of wickets at the other end, having been preferred to Durham's Steve Harmison with the new ball, Johnson's knack of getting a delivery pitching on off stump to straighten, was enough to rip through the tourists' woefully inadequate batting.

Having trapped Mark Vermeulen - who also went in the first over of his side's second innings to complete an unenviable pair - and Stuart Carlisle lbw in successive balls in his first over he claimed another three scalps in identical fashion in a little over an hour before tea.

If Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak felt aggrieved at being given out despite appearing to be hit on the pads outside off stump, Sean Ervine and Andy Blignaut were both plum in front of the stumps, as Johnson's skiddy style beat their half-hearted efforts to defend with the bat.

By tea Johnson had ripped through Zimbabwe's top order, leaving the field with figures of 5-18 from just eight overs. It was the 13th time he had taken five wickets in a first class innings, but none will have left him as delirious as this.

The Somerset seamer has so often been the odd man out, having first been called up to the squad for a tour to South Africa in 1995 only to be withdrawn because of a repetitive back injury. …

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