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The Sporting Scoop - Grey Day In England

by Ian Little, an unabashed one-eyed supporter of British sports, who writes from England

The rain which washed out most of play at Wimbledon, failed to save New Zealand's brittle batting line up and only resistance from the middle order saved the side from another tongue thrashing from the British media.

Most sports fans in Britain were cheering on home favourite Steffi Graf to victory and then seething in frustration as local hero Tim Henman's last eight match with Cedric Pioline was stopped by rain (Imagine an English tennis player at Wimbledon, wonders will never cease), few were paying to watch the opening day of the first test at Edgbaston.

While the bad weather may have deterred spectators, cricket administrators are already so concerned at apathy towards the series against New Zealand that half-price tickets are to be offered to children and reduced by quarter for adults for all four Tests in an attempt to increase attendance.

Edgbaston was more than half empty for the opening day and ticket sales are slow for the third Test at Old Trafford.

But anyway, the first day itself was interesting enough with another woeful top-order performance being saved by a determined Adam Parore taking the final score to 226 for 10 wickets off 88.4 overs at the close of play.

Two recalled players to the side after the humiliation of the World Cup did the damage with both Andy Caddick and Phil Tufnell taking three wickets each.

After winning the toss, NZ chose to bat under gloomy skies and promptly lost four wickets by lunch and then two more quickly after, to be 104 for six, before Parore and Dion Nash resisted an English bowling attack that went off the boil.

Roger Twose snicked one to slip for a duck and fellow opener Mat Horne struggled to 12, the next four all made starts, (Stephen Fleming showed some class hitting six boundaries in his innings of 27) but promptly fell and it looked like a triumphant day for England's latest new captain, until Adam Parore came to the crease.

The wicket keeper took up three hours putting on 73 and looked good for more. With Dion Nash he added 86 for the seventh wicket after the pair each survived after offering chances.

Nash finally fell at 21, grafted off 100 balls, and a partnership of 85 that frustrated England was over, the last three wickets brought the score to 226, with Simon Doull helping himself to 11 off 15 balls.

Tomorrow, England's focus will remain on Wimbledon, but there will be a circling pack of media over Edgbaston looking for someone to mock, who that is will be very much up to New Zealand's bowling attack.

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