Cricket log - June 2004
Lancashire vs Kent, County Championship, Tunbridge Wells, 2-5 June
Taking place at Kent's festival ground (which spaceman has actually been to before, it being a short distance from spaceman's uncle's house), this was a clash between two in-form teams. Lancashire, however, had a few players missing, with Peter Martin still recovering from a knee operation, Flintoff and Anderson (who was injured anyway) lost to the England Test squad, Hooper still injured following the C&G match against Sussex and Mahmood left out (injured or rested?). As a consequence, both Steven Crook and Alec Swann got a game. Kent won the toss, elected to bat and seeked to press home the advantage, with the in-form batsman of the moment, Robert Key, scoring 180, and the other England reject, Ed Smith, scoring a breezy 116. They put on 229 for the second wicket, before Lancashire claimed three late wickets to leave Kent on 416-4 on a cracking pitch for batting.
Lancashire started the second day hoping to make further inroads, but were thwarted further by a fifth wicket partnership of 154 between Walker and former Surrey player Carberry. At 556-4, a massive total seemed in the offing, but Chapple fought back to take four of the last six wickets to fall, Kent finally making 615 all out. Chapple was rewarded for his 36 overs of hard toil, claiming figures of 5-136 - it's probably better not mentioning the other bowlers' figures. Lancashire started well enough, putting on 83 for the first wicket, before Symonds ran out Chilton off his own bowling then accounted for Loye, Law and Sutcliffe (who had made 50 and got a shooter) in reasonably quick succession to leave Lancashire struggling on 131-4. Chapple and Swann steadied things with a partnership of 52, but then when they both went, Lancashire were on 201-6, still a massive 265 runs behind the follow on target. Some free hitting from Crook, Hegg and Cork brought the score up to 307, but some more solid partnerships were required, and Lancashire, 308 runs behind, were inevitably asked to follow on.
Another poor display of batting immediately followed as Lancashire stumbled to 135-5 (was this the same pitch?). Finally some fight was evident when Crook and Chapple put on 153 for the sixth wicket. Crook was out for 68 but Chapple and Hegg continued in the same vein, guiding Lancashire to 316-6 at the close of the play. If only the top order had batted like this. Lancashire needed a miracle on day four, and duly didn't get one. Chapple got to 102 before being bowled by Sheriyar. Symonds then mopped up the tail, with a mix of off-spin and medium pace, to finish with a five-for in the innings and eight wickets in the match. With Lancashire making 395, Kent needed a mere 88 runs to win. Chapple got an early wicket and Hogg finally got off the mark with a couple more, including the relentless Key six short of his half-century, but Kent were never in any real trouble. This ended Lancashire's all-competition unbeaten run, and in some emphatic style. Warwickshire's impressive innings victory against Middlesex sent them clear at the top of the table with Lancashire somewhat off the pace, fourth and 23 points behind the Midlands side, after this setback.
Kent won by 7 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 3 points, Kent 17
England vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Headingley, 3-7 June
England won the toss on a cloudy morning in Leeds and put predictably put New Zealand into bat. Saggers made his second appearance for England (and his first in England), ahead of Anderson, who had unluckily picked up a heel injury, and Michael Vaughan came back into the side, to replace the retired Hussain. Not much play was possible on the first day, however, with the players on and off the field. They were on for sufficiently long for Saggers to bowl Richardson, Thorpe to drop Papps at slip and New Zealand to score 41 runs. The weather was better on the second day and so was the batting, as Papps and Fleming put on 169 for the second wicket. The visitors, however, suffered a mini-collapse when Flintoff had Papps leg before with a spearing yorker, then Fleming got a leading edge to Harmison trying to play across the line and lobbed the ball up to Vaughan at mid-on, just three short of his century (Fleming has a poor 50-to-100 conversion rate, something he is well aware of - he was clearly frustrated at the dismissal). Then, with the score still on 215, Astle slashed Saggers to Butcher at gully.
Styris and Oram steadied things slightly, but when Harmison and Flintofff accounted for them respectively, New Zealand were on 293-6 and in danger of under-scoring in the first innings, with England's confidence up. But a series of boundaries from Cairns, in his pen-ultimate Test, and McCullum took the initiative away from England, as the visitors finished the day on 351-6. Vaughan then rushed off to join his wife, who gave birth to their daughter later that evening. England started the second day well, with Cairns removed early on, but Vettori carried on where Cairns had left things, striking a composed 35. But suddenly three wickets fell for no runs in three overs, with Hoggard bowling McCullum before snaring Tuffey leg before, and then Harmison bowling Vettori, to leave New Zealand all out for 409, not a bad score considering the nature of the pitch and having been put in to bat. Trescothick and Strauss opened the innings in a similar vein to the first Test, putting on a breezy 153, before Strauss again fell to Vettori, who also got Butcher lbw. When Styris had Vaughan caught in the slips and bowled Trescothick (edging on to a low delivery having come back from a delay due to bad light), England, on 240-4, had thrown away their first innings initiative. Thorpe and Flintoff survived the last few overs to leave England 248-4 at the end of the third day.
Flintoff was in good, positive form on the fourth morning, dominating a 99 partnership with Thorpe, who was undone by a swinging Martin yorker. This brought Geraint Jones to the crease and the promising combination of Flintoff and Jones again reaped rewards, and at a fair pace too. This time Jones was the more dominant partner, leaping on anything short to cream it through the point region for four. Flintoff, having gone past fifty, was content to play the supporting role. Flintoff, facing Styris on 90, played a glorious drive to long on, but he attempted to reach his fourth Test century off the next ball and miscued to deep mid-off, much to the disappointment of the Lancastrian. It was a careless way to go (mirroring his first Test dismissal), but they had put on 118 for the sixth wicket and, more importantly, they had put England in a strong position on 457-6. Giles batted with a combination of skill and luck, adding a breezy 21 off 19 balls before edging Martin to Fleming and first slip. Jones then marshalled the tail, surviving a nervy time in the 90s, before finally reaching 100. He immediately got out, though, as England's innings mirrored New Zealand when they lost the last three wickets for no runs, this time in the space of just five balls.
England, though, had scored 526, and secured an invaluable lead of 115 runs. In addition, Vettori had pulled his hamstring and Papps had broken his finger. New Zealand got off to another smooth enough start and even though they lost their captain Fleming with the score on 38, caught by Strauss at short leg off Flintoff, but a renewed spurt of energy from the England attack on the Sunday evening saw four wickets fall in three overs. It was started by Hoggard, who had Richardson caught behind off a rip-snorting short delivery. Trescothick then dived full length to his right to claim McCullum off the bowling of Harmison. When Astle was lbw to a ball that kept low and nightwatchman Tuffey had gloved behind (off the same combination of bowlers), New Zealand were still 16 behind with only five wickets left. Styris and Oram survived the short period at the end of the day, but the odds were stacked against them. They certainly started positively the next day, with Styris hitting Harmison for three fours in the first over of the day, but Hoggard got him in the next, playing at an away swinger, and brilliantly caught in front of first slip by Jones.
Oram and Cairns continued to play shots, with Cairns hitting Hoggard back over his head for a six, but in the same over the ball kept a bit low and Cairns was gone, leg before. Papps, who had broken knuckle, almost immediately edged Hoggard to slip, but Thorpe shelled the simple chance, denying Hoggard a five-for. He didn't last long, however, has Harmison had him fending at a short one, which landed straight in the hands of Vaughan, who had only just placed himself there. It was all going well. Oram consequently upped a gear, and a couple of big swings brought a couple of sixes, but on the last ball of the over he and Martin attempted a ridiculous run off the keeper, but Jones was alive to it all, hitting the stumps with his underarm throw. With Vettori unable to bat, New Zealand were all out for 161, having scored 56 runs for the loss of four wickets in eight eventful overs. It simply fell upon England to knock off the 45 required runs in quick time, with the loss of Strauss (his first failure) not deterring Trescothick, who bludgeoned 30 off 29 balls. Geraint Jones picked up his first man of the match award for his maiden Test century plus a series of outstanding catches (and one run out), and England had clinched the series with one to play, avenging their defeat here in 1999.
England won by 9 wickets (scorecard)
Lancashire vs Kent, National League, Tunbridge Wells, 6 June
The last thing a slightly demoralised Lancashire needed was to lose the toss and field, having seen Kent rack up the runs in the four-day match. And, although Carberry, Key and Loudon were removed relatively cheaply, it was at the other end that the fireworks were going off. Andrew Symonds, the Birmingham-born Aussie, hit 17 fours and four sixes in a 110-ball innings of 146. He was well supported by Matthew Walker, who hit a breezy 61. By the time Symonds was out, falling to the gentle medium pace of Chilton, the score was on 250 and he had done the damage. Lancashire came back a little at the end, with Chapple and Mahmood taking two wickets apiece (Mahmood was the only bowler to really impress, finishing with 4-42 off 9 overs), but Kent still managed to score 301 off 44.5 overs.
Lancashire having Mal Loye bowled first ball was not the ideal start, and went Cork went a short time later, his adventure as a pinch-hitter predictably ending in failure (he's not the batsman he was, as this season's stats show), it fell upon Law and Chilton to get the run chase going. They needed a big partnership, but they only got 43, with Law out for 51. Crook followed shortly and Chilton was soon out to leave Lancashire seriously out of the running. Some bright knocks from Chapple, Sutcliffe, Schofield and Hegg kept Lancashire's score competitive, but they all got out in the 20s or 30s and Kent's score was never seriously threatened. They were eventually all out for 245, a defeat by 56 runs, with 16 balls to spare. Lancashire's unbeaten National League run had also come to an end, in a fairly poor start to June. Granted, Lancashire had injury problems, but Kent, to their credit, had thoroughly outplayed Lancashire in every department.
Kent won by 56 runs (scorecard) - Lancashire 0, Kent 4
Lancashire vs Sussex, County Championship, Old Trafford, 9-12 June
Hooper came back for this match, but replaced the injured Sutcliffe, so Swann and Crook kept their places, and Hogg was dropped to accommodate the return of Mahmood. Lancashire lost another toss, and Sussex happily opted to bat. It was more hard toil in the field for Lancashire as Ward (84) and Goodwin (83) put on 148 for the second wicket, then Adams and Prior (61) put on 116 for the fourth. None of the rest of the Sussex batsmen seriously troubled the scorers, but Adams, who likes to score heavily against Lancashire it seems, marshalled the strike well and finished on 150 not out, Sussex finally reaching 470. Cork and Mahmood claimed fairly expensive three-fors. Lancashire's response was shockingly spineless, as they failed remotely to bat well on what was still a good pitch on which to bat. Of the top nine batsmen, Law (25) and Chapple (21) were the top scorers, as the hosts lurched miserably to 101-9. It took a miraculous innings from Sajid Mahmood to put some degree of respectability on things. His previous highest first class score was 34, but here he played with gusto, riding his luck but hitting 13 fours and three sixes. Unfortunately, a rain break distracted his concentration and he was out immediately upon the resumption on 94, six runs short of what would have been a memorable debut century. It wasn't to be and nor was the survival of Lancashire past the follow-on target (they were 256 runs behind Sussex), as they lost their last wicket with the score on 214 (the last wicket partnership had more than doubled their score). No Sussex bowler was particularly responsibly for Lancashire's downfall - they all picked up a share of the spoils.
Sussex had no hesitation in asking Lancashire to follow on and, although they made a decent fist of it, no batsmen stayed in having got in, and this was shown in the top score of the innings, 55 from Carl Hooper. Mushtaq Ahmed was their torturer this time, as he claimed 5-105, including the wickets of Law and Hooper. Mahmood hit a further 24, off just 22 balls, and James Anderson even made an appearance, loopily replacing Crook at a time when Lancashire needed runs, having returned from the Trent Bridge (with Saggers preferred in his stead). They eventually reached 297 all out, but that only left Sussex needing 42 runs to win, which they knocked off easily on the third day for the loss of two wickets. So, Lancashire, having dominated Sussex in their previous meeting, had now been thrashed again, and it was the manner of their three successive defeats that was the most disturbing. They were never at the races. Lancashire, as a consequence, had further lost ground to runaway leaders Warwickshire, the gap now 41 points, with Lancashire now nervously eyeing up the relegation places.
Sussex won by 8 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 4, Sussex 22
England vs New Zealand, 3rd Test, Trent Bridge, 10-14 June
Jimmy Anderson had recovered from his heel injury, but England stuck with Saggers and Anderson returned to Lancashire to take part (a little late) in the game at Old Trafford against Sussex. So England were unchanged from the second Test, whereas New Zealand made three changes, with McMillan, Franklin and Mills coming in for Papps, Tuffey and Vettori. It was Mills' debut, and left-arm seamer Franklin had not played many Test matches before. New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat, and a little research revealed that England had batted second for seven consecutive games (the last time being the defeat by Sri Lanka). They immediately made the most of their decision, as Richardson (73) and Fleming put on 163 for the first wicket, before Giles deceived Richardson, who came down the wicket, misread the flight and chipped to Vaughan at short midwicket. Fleming and Styris carried it on, with Fleming reaching his century with a clipped six of his legs, much to his obvious relief. He did not last too much longer, however, as Flintoff induced him to edge to Thorpe at an isolated wide slip position.
There followed another failure by New Zealand's middle order, again undoing the hard work done by the openers, as shortly before the close of play, Harmison bowled Astle off the inside edge and McMillan was adjudged lbw first ball. New Zealand finished the day on 294-4, and was therefore a good day for the visitors, but this belied the truth, which was that the England bowlers had bowled well and were unlucky not to get a number of lbw decisions (the amusingly outspoken Geoffrey Boycott blamed it on the unpires' lack of sleep). England started the second day well, with Saggers claiming the wickets of Oram and Cairns. Styris reached his century, before he too misread a flighted delivery from Giles. The last three wickets then fell in quick succession. Harmison induced McCullum to cut uppishly to a cleverly placed third man (twenty yards in from the boundary), taken at about the fourth attempt by a juggling Hoggard. Hoggard then got Mills to edge to Jones, but there was a little bit of doubt over whether the ball carried or not. Then, as if it was catching (or rather nearly dropping), Hoggard got Martin to flick it to Vaughan at square leg, who eventually clung on to the ball. New Zealand had gone from 272-2 to 384 all out.
More bad news was to follow for New Zealand, as Chris Martin pulled his hamstring during the course of delivering his 11th ball, but not before Cairns, sharing the new ball in his last Test match, at his second ground, got Strauss to feather an edge behind. Franklin replaced Martin and got the ball to swing away from the left-handers Butcher and Trescothick, the swing proving too much for Butcher as he was tempted to play a wide one and edged to the slips. Skipper Michael Vaughan came to the wicket to renew an old partnership with Marcus Trescothick. They began to attack the New Zealand bowling, with Vaughan especially seizing on any bad balls. But Cairns, using good variety on a reasonably good batting pitch, had Vaughan lbw, the captain having hit 61 off only 65 balls, including four fours and one six. Trescothick followed shortly after, in a similar manner to Butcher, having made 63. Thorpe and Flintoff came together and put on 81 for the fifth wicket before Cairns trapped Flintoff, who had made a swift 54, leg before. Hoggard was sent in as the nightwatchman and he duly saw out the rest of the day's overs, as England finished on 225-5, with the game evenly poised.
Hoggard lasted 37 balls in all, before Franklin got him to edge to Styris, his third catch off the same bowler. Thorpe was then victim to a poor decision, given out caught behind to a ball that, drifting down the legside, had clipped the buckle of his thigh pad. He had been dismissed for 45 and he wasn't happy. Jones played a few of his trademark square cuts before he aimed an ugly smear over midwicket and missed it completely, falling lbw to Styris. Giles was playing at the other end, seizing on anything wide to cream it through the covers, and when Saggers was bowled by Cairns, with the ball dribbling back onto the stumps following a weak defensive shot, Giles (45 not out) opened up, hitting 18 off eight balls, before Harmison was bowled by Cairns, who took a five-wicket haul (5-79), Franklyn finishing with an impressive 4-104. England were all out for 319 and had needlessly conceded a lead of 65 runs to their opponents. Richardson and Fleming then set about putting the game out of England's reach with a stand of 94, before Richardson, unusually outscoring his partner, played back and missed to Giles and was given out lbw for 49 (he was plumb). Giles then claimed the wicket of McCullum, who edged to the safe hands of Flintoff at slip.
Flintoff then bent his back for an aggressive spell of bowling, snaring Fleming lbw as he padded up to a delivery on off stump (but looking like it was heading over the stumps) and the disappointing Astle for a duck, again lbw (but less controversially so). When Taufel made another poor decision by giving Styris out caught behind to Harmison when he missed the ball by a country mile, England had gained a little of the initiative back, with New Zealand reaching 190-5 at the end of the day. England hit the ground running on the second day. McMillan was trapped in front by Harmison, who then got Oram to edge low to Flintoff for a duck. Giles then bowled the perfect spinning delivery to Cairns, as the ball drifted, dipped and turned past the outside edge of the bat to clip off stump. Giles was delighted and Cairns had made a cautious, solitary run in his last Test innings, a slightly anti-climactic way to finish for the explosive batsman. He still got a standing ovation from the Nottingham crowd and generous applause from the England team. Franklin edged Flintoff behind then Mills top edged a sweep to Harmison at short fine leg off the bowling of Giles, who finished with 4-46 (Harmison and Flintoff had got three wickets apiece.
The consequence of New Zealand being bowled out for 218 was that England were set a target of 284, similar to that in the first Test at Lords. The innings started in a similar way to that at Lords, as the openers Trescothick and Strauss fell cheaply to the pace duo Cairns and Franklin. Vaughan settled in but then fell to a Cairns combo. First he was beaten by an outswinger, then he played outside a slower off-cutter and was given out lbw. Thorpe joined Butcher and they calmed English nerves, putting on a stand of 88 for the fourth wicket, before New Zealand mind games did for Butcher. Cairns, unhappy with the ball, asked for a replacement, and, two balls after the delay and the final ball before tea, Cairns got Butcher to miss a full swinging delivery and he was given lbw with the score on 134. It was a crucial dismissal, and made New Zealand firmly favourites. This was even further the case when Flintoff tamely chipped Cairns' slower ball to cover having made only five runs.
Jones then came to the crease and put on 52 with Thorpe, but he fell in typical fashion, caught at gulley playing his favourite square cut. The score was 214-6 and England still required 70 runs with a long tail. Giles, though played positively and without nerves, again playing his scoring shots through the off side. Between them, they began to up the pace, conscious perhaps of the fact that time was running out on day four. It was definitely in England's interest for the game not to carry on to the fifth day as there was a good crowd, the batting conditions were good and New Zealand's four bowlers were tiring. Giles was dropped twice but continued to survive, even responding to Cairns putting men back on the square leg fence and dropping it short by hooking between said fielders for four. They claimed the last half hour and didn't require it all, as they cruised home, but not before Thorpe had struck a boundary to reach the century mark. England won by six wickets, an unlikely victory given the up and down day that had just occurred, and took the series 3-0. Thorpe, unsurprisingly, claimed the man of the match award, and the men of the series were Richardson and Harmison respectively.
England won by 4 wickets (scorecard) - England take series 3-0
Lancashire vs Warwickshire, National League, Edgbaston, 13 June
Warwickshire won the toss and chose to bat. Lancashire were without their overseas pair, Law and Hooper, and also their experienced bowling duo, Chapple and Martin, but they did have Anderson available. Young Australian-born Paul Horton was picked along with Chris Schofield. Anderson bowled pinch-hitter Neil Carter early on, but Wagh and Knight soon started to dominate the bowling, with Mahmood and Hogg in particular taking some heavy punishment. Anderson finally got Wagh for 69, but by then the score was 163. Knight continued in the same vein before being bowled by Cork for 92 off 87 balls. Warwickshire's middle order ensured that they set a very competitive target, with Brad Hogg's 41 off only 27 balls taking them up to 310-5 off their 45 overs. None of the Lancashire bowlers had great figures.
Lancashire struggled from the start, losing the never-impressive Swann and Loye by the time they reached 31. Crook and Chilton kept up the scoring rate to a run a ball, but they too fell in quick succession. Horton impressed and top-scored with 42, but the required run rate was escalating rapidly. Cork and Hogg had a go, hitting two sixes apiece, but no batsman could get the weight of runs needed for victory, and Lancashire were eventually bowled out for 198 of 39.3 overs, losing by the wide margin of 112 runs. Lancashire had suffered yet another June defeat.
Warwickshire won by 12 runs (scorecard) - Lancashire 0, Warwickshire 4
Lancashire vs Yorkshire, C&G Trophy quarter-final, Old Trafford, 16 June
The season's main Roses clash (they met at the start of the season and are scheduled to meet in the Twenty20 competition later) saw both teams almost back to full strength. Yorkshire welcomed back Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard after their international exertions. Lancashire had Law, Hooper and Martin back in the fold. Unfortunately, Flintoff complained of pain in his ankle and was ordered to rest, and Sutcliffe and Chapple were still injured, so Horton and Swann kept their places, Crook, perhaps harshly, dropped. It seemed to be a difficult pitch to bat on, as Lancashire struggled to get any momentum going, having won the toss and chosen to bat. Chilton could not get going at all, and was dismissed for 3 by Bresnan, but Loye and Law steadied things with a partnership of 65. Silverwood then had Loye caught behind for 50, and the same bowled then dismissed Law for 48.
Hooper then showed his experience and took the innings by the scruff of the neck, hitting 66 off 67 balls (despite a blow to the thumb), with two sixes, but Lancashire were still looking short of a competitive target. But in came Cork, following the run out of Alec Swann for 38 (quite possibly greater than the total number of runs previously scored by him this season). Cork had also disappointed with the bat this season, but he showed how dangerous he can be by flaying the Yorkshire attack to all parts. He hit 54 off just 20 balls, with seven fours and three sixes, two of which were hit off the last two legitimate balls of the innings, to give Lancashire a total of 286-5. In response, White hit a run-a-ball 43, but Mahmood removed both openers. Shortly afterwards, Martin bowled Jacques and then McGrath was run out for 0 to leave Yorkshire struggling on 85-4.
The next partnership was deemed to be crucial, and so it became. Vaughan and Lehmann, two experienced cricketers, calmly put on 149 for the fifth wicket to take the game away from Lancashire. The hosts gave themselves a chance when Mahmood got Lehmann to nick to the keeper and Anderson removed both Blakey and Dawson. But Vaughan was composed at the other end. The ending could have been different, as Vaughan was caught on the boundary by Law, whose momentum carried him over the rope. The England captain finished on 116 not out and Yorkshire won with 14 balls to spare. Lancashire, meanwhile, had suffered a fifth straight defeat, and clearly missed the influence of Andrew Flintoff for this match.
Yorkshire won by 3 wickets (scorecard)
Lancashire vs Warwickshire, County Championship, Stratford-upon-Avon, 18-21 June
Lancashire again had a plethora of players unavailable for this match. The list was Sutcliffe, Hooper, Flintoff, Chapple, Cork, Mahmood and Anderson, although Mongia was again playing as a overseas replacement for Hooper. Warwickshire won the toss and set about putting runs on the scoreboard, with Knight, was in good nick, and Wagh putting on 141 for the first wicket. Knight made 53 before falling lbw to Keedy. Bell came in to join Wagh and they put on 154 for the second wicket. Crook snared Bell and Wagh in quick succession, before Keedy got Troughton caught by Law to pull the hosts back to 313-4. But the festival groundsman had prepared a flat pitch and Lancashire struggled to gain too much further headway, until an excellent second new ball spell from the newly-returned Peter Martin enabled Lancashire to bowl Warwickshire out for 499, with Martin picking up 4-81, and Trott and Hogg had made half-centuries. Amazingly, the majority of these runs were managed in the first day, at a scoring rate of nearly 5 an over, partly due to the short boundaries.
Lancashire scored at a similar pace as, although Chilton fell early on, Swann and Loye put on 74 for the second wicket. Loye then shared partnerships of 69 with Law and 171 with Mongia (who scored 89). Rain stared to affect the game on the second and third days, however, and this prompted Lancashire to steady the run-rate and, seemingly, play for the draw. Loye finally made 184 off 324 balls to form the spine of Lancashire's innings. The only other innings of note was Hegg's 54, before the skipper was bowled by Hogg just before the end of the day. The match petered out to a draw as more rain came on the final day, as Lancashire finished on 508, to leave Warwickshire to bat the overs, eventually scoring 124-2. Lancashire had slightly the better of the draw then, and the maximum bonus points enabled them to stabilise their position in the league (most other teams also drew). Lancashire were fourth after this on 85 points, still 40 points behind the leaders Warwickshire.
Match drawn (scorecard) - Lancashire 12, Warwickshire 11
England vs Wales, one-day friendly, Sophia Gardens, 19 June
The now-traditional annual match between England and Wales took place as a warm-up to the Natwest Series and was fancily titled the Natwest Challenge. Wales were essentially Glamorgan plus Somerset's Steffan Jones. England found places for Mahmood and Anderson, with Flintoff rested. Wales won the toss and chose to bat, but soon lost their openers to Gough and Anderson to leave them on 38-2. Powell, aiming to impress the England selectors, scored a composed 49 off 68 balls. Hemp scored 52 and Wallace a brisk unbeaten 31, but the Welsh batsmen never really got on top of the bowlers, with Anderson and Mahmood both picking up 2-42 (although Mahmood only bowled 8 overs). Trescothick fell early for one to Harrison, and Jones, after a pinch-hitting 21 off 20 balls, was bowled by the same bowler, but Key and Strauss ensured victory by putting on a match-winning partnership of 138. Jones got Key (83 off 95 balls) and then Collingwood before the end, but Strauss hung around to complete the victory, finally finishing on an unbeaten 92 off 86 balls.
England won by 6 wickets (scorecard)
England vs New Zealand, Natwest Series, Old Trafford, 24 June
England started the series badly, with the news that Flintoff's heel injury was in fact a growth on his ankle bone which meant that he would miss the entire Natwest Series and perhaps more besides. Trescothick, too, was injured, but his twisted ankle had nearly healed in time for this match, which never really threatened to start on a miserable and rainy day. It nevertheless allowed the spectators to head home to watch England get disappointingly and frustratingly knocked out of Euro 2004 (but enough about that).
Match abandoned without a ball bowled - England 3, New Zealand 3
Lancashire vs Northamptonshire, National League, Old Trafford, 25 June
Lancashire had Dominic Cork back, but still plenty of other absentees. Spaceman failed to persuade anyone to go with to this game, and didn't fancy going without support in case of another defeat, likely given the recent bad form. Lancashire won the toss and elected to bat, but got off to an horrendous start, losing the batting backbone (although not recently) of Loye and Law after reaching the mighty total of 13, Steffan Jones claiming both. Mongia, Swann and Schofield all got starts but didn't go on, meanwhile Chilton struggled to find fluency, top-scoring with 51, but taking 100 balls to do it. When he, Crook and Schofield fell for two runs, Lancashire were on deep trouble at 124-7, with spinner Jason Brown the chief tormentor. Cork and Hegg guaranteed some respectability, but otherwise Lancashire limped to 176 all out in the final over. Lancashire's seam quartet of Martin, Cork, Wood and Crook didn't exactly strike fear into Northants batting line-up, and with a low target they set off on the hurry-up, despite losing former Lancashire batsman Tim Roberts early on. Graeme Swann smashed 78 off 59 balls (we've got the wrong brother, clearly), ably supported by South African batsman van Jaarsveld (65 off 72). The result was never in doubt and the visitors won with nearly 18 overs to spare. The humiliating nature of the defeat prompted Mike Watkinson to apologise publicly to the Lancashire fans. It must be bad.
Northants won by 7 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 0, Northants 4
Lancashire vs Northamptonshire, County Championship, Liverpool, 26-29 June
Peter Martin didn't make this game and Newby played instead. Keedy came back but Wood was still in, with the team still resembling almost a reserve side in places. Lancashire won the toss and chose to field, the wounds probably still deep from the previous night's poor effort. However, the first day was a complete wash-out. When play started on the second day, they made early inroads, with the visitors on 74-3, but Afzaal shared partnerships of 84 and 92 with Sales and Swann to put them better placed on 250-5. Lancashire fought back well, though, as left-arm twirler Keedy took five successive wickets (not in successive balls, mind) to leave Northants on 284-9. Just as Lancashire were set to bowl them out for a sub-300 total, an annoying last wicket partnership of 73 between Afzaal and Jones (who certainly contributed, with 35 valuable runs), to get them to 357 and four crucial bonus points.
Chilton and Sutcliffe got Lancashire off to a solid start but the jitters came back again, as they went from 76-0 to 122-5, leaving themselves hard work to get parity in the game. Cork did his best, scoring his best score for the county (74), his batting visibly improving over the season. He got a little support from Crook and Wood, but Lancashire still only managed 284 all out (crucially both sides were 284-9, but Northants garnered a first innings lead of 73. The effect of the loss of the first day to rain was to leave the game heading for a draw, though, as Lancashire's batting effort had gone into the final day. The captains were never going to agree to contriving a target (Lancashire especially, being desperate for the avoidance of defeat) and the match petered out to a draw, with Northants scoring 146-4 in their second innings before play was called to a halt. A summary of June for Lancashire was six defeats and two rain-affected draws. And after all that was promised with an unbeaten April and May. Hard to exactly place a finger on the downward lurch, but a combination of injuries, a lack of form from the star players (such as Stuart Law) and a general crisis of confidence all contributed.
Match drawn (scorecard) - Lancashire 9, Northants 11
England vs West Indies, Natwest Series, Trent Bridge, 27 June
England got off to a really bad start having been asked to bat, losing Trescothick and Vaughan inside the first 13 balls. Geraint Jones, pushed up the order to three, with Andrew Strauss, slowly put England back on track with a partnership of 82 off 14.4 overs. Jones was bowled by Rampaul and Collingwood came in and scratched around. His dismissal precipitated a collapse, with the last seven wickets falling for 45 runs, and England were bowled out for 147, their lowest total at Trent Bridge. Pick of the West Indian bowlers was Bravo with 3-26 off his full quota, but all the bowlers contributed in some way. Chris Gayle led the way with 60 off 90 balls as West Indies made short work of England's low total, knocking the runs off in 32.2 overs. Anderson claimed two wickets of the three wickets to fall but was expensive. England had got off to a bad start in their home one-day tournament.
West Indies won by 7 wickets (scorecard) - England 0, West Indies 6
England vs New Zealand, Natwest Series, Riverside, 29 June
Michael Vaughan again the loss and was asked to bat. In response to the first game defeat, England's only change was Giles coming in for Clarke, a strange decision since seamers had dominated in the previous match. The openers at least survived a few overs this time, but soon fell in quick succession. There was no subsequent recovery as the England batsmen failed to deal with the moving ball. A procession of wickets followed until England were 78-9, and only Anderson and Harmison, putting on 23 for the last wicket, took it over their lowest ever total 86 against Australia at Old Trafford in 2001) and past the century mark. Franklin was by far the pick, snaring 5-41 off his full quota, including a double-wicket maiden in his final over. A target of 102 was never going to trouble the experienced one-day team of New Zealand. Harmison gave England a flicker of hope by taking three quick wickets in the middle of the innings, but unfortunately England only have one of the Durham pace bowler (and who'd have thought that would be a disadvantage a year or two ago). New Zealand scored the required runs in just 17.2 overs, with the whole match lasting a ball more than 50 overs in total.
New Zealand won by 7 wickets (scorecard) - England 0, New Zealand 6