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The Sporting Scoop: NZ In Driving Seat

The rapidly changing fortunes of the New Zealand and England cricket teams took another upheaval in the first day of the second test and like true Brits most commentators are blaming the weather.

England won the toss and elected to bat on what was a sunny day for London. Former Captain Alec Stewart rode his luck and scored a swahbuckling 50 in the opening session to probably ensure his place in a side after wide-spread talk that this was his last chance, for sure, no doubts about it, out and you are out etc.

His fellow opener, Butcher ground out eight runs before the fall of his wicket brought Nasser Hussein to the crease. Just before lunch, England looked comfortable at 79 for one. Then New Zealand finally snapped up one of many half chances from Stewart and the clouds came rolling in over Lords.

Suddenly what had been a reasonable, if not terrifying ,bowling attack seemed to become unplayable for the English batsman. Chris Cairns and Dion Nash swung the ball in the air and England wickets began to tumble.

Four wickets fell for just 23 runs as they ripped the heart out of the England middle order. The best wicket for bowling intelligence and English farce was that of Chris Read, who went without scoring as he appeared to duck a ball that he thought was coming straight at him, only to see a disguised slow ball trickle through his feet and hit the stumps.

In the end Chris Cairns took five for 75 and Nash three for 49 to leave England 183 for 9 before bad light stopped play. Hussain was 59 not out but has only Phil Tufnell to chat to at the other end.

Tomorrow, the weather is forecast to be sunny for what should be a long day at the wicket for the New Zealand batting line up. The pitch certainly appears to hold few devils in it, though there was what appears from the stands to be a bit of uneven bounce.

The experts around me agree that it wasn’t so much the bowling attack being brilliant or the batsman being woeful, but the clouds in the air (true). This led to calls for a full-time weather forecaster to join the evergrowing number of advisers to the squad to ensure the Captain gets the toss right.

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