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England hits back aggressively

By Ted Corbett

LEEDS, JUNE 5. Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss put together their second hundred partnership in three innings as England hit back aggressively to the New Zealand total of 409 on the third day of the second Test at Headingley on Saturday.

Trescothick, as immobile as ever, simply stood in his crease and thrashed the ball to the boundary as he hit nine fours in fifty; Strauss offered back-up and caressed the ball past cover point whenever the opportunity occurred. In 25 overs they transformed the shape of the match so that Michael Vaughan, their captain could sit back on the players' balcony, waiting to bat at No.4 satisfied that fatherhood was not the drag he had feared.

The morning papers attacked England for its listless performance on Friday and blamed an equally uninspiring show from Vaughan in the absence of his foreman Nasser Hussain. I think there is an excuse for the dismal England out-cricket. Vaughan was, of course — and quite rightly — distracted by the imminent birth of his daughter and had no-one of Hussain's passion to stir the team to action but there was also the length of time England spent on the field.

It had put New Zealand in on the basis of cloudy weather on the first day but was able to bowl only 19 overs. The contrast with day two is bizarre. England was seven and a half hours on the field and bowled 105 overs. It conceded only 310 runs in that time and took two wickets each session and has nothing to be ashamed of against competent Test batsmen.

On the other hand the selectors were handed a number of problems. Geraint Jones is not a Test wicket-keeper, Ashley Giles never threatened to take a wicket and the fielding was wretched. A new Hussain must be found: Adam Hollioake, Dominic Cork and Chris Adams, all Test failures, spring to mind. Their D-day is the start of the Ashes series next summer.

By that time Vaughan's much-talked about daughter will be a year old and his departure last night forgotten. She was born at 9 o'clock , weighed in at 7lb 1oz, "delighted" her parents and was given the name Tallulah Grace. Vaughan appeared mystified by any mention of the film star Tallulah Bankhead, a lady with a sharp tongue who remarked that "good girls keep diaries, bad girls don't have time." No doubt the new Tallulah will have more Grace. It was the day for dressing in exotic clothing and the sponsor's prize went to those in baby clothes rather than the nuns and Thunderbirds.

On this flat pitch and under a clear sky England needed 90 minutes to bowl out the four remaining New Zealand batsmen who increased their overnight score of 351 for six to 409. Daniel Vettori not only batted with intelligence as he made 35 of the 58 runs but sacrificed his wicket so that the bowlers could have 20 minutes to attack the England openers before lunch. I was glad to see Trescothick begin with two straight drives. They are his signpost of good form.

England galloped to 45 off ten overs; an Australian response to a big score. Stephen Fleming kept the field in close, happy to trade a boundary or two for a wicket. Fifty came in the 13th, Strauss's cover drive began to work and in 15 overs England had the respectable one-day score of 65. When Scott Styris and Chris Cairns bowled runs flowed just as freely even though the attack element decreased. A cover drive by Trescothick off Styris — minimal foot movement please note — was the shot of the day. Chris Martin, New Zealand's best bowler in the first Test, had to be brought back to stem the flow of runs while Cairns taunted Strauss around off stump.

Fred Trueman says Trescothick wears divers' boots but on this docile pitch he was in command. New Zealand lacks pace and variety so England helped themselves to runs as they pleased. Trescothick was first to fifty but Strauss got there with his seventh four which means he has

passed fifty in each of his Test innings. Herbert Sutcliffe, a Yorkshire opening batsman who began his Test career in his mid-20s like Strauss, achieved the same feat in 1924. And everyone in the crowd knew that.

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