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Cricket: Rainbow alliance unable to inspire jaded electorate.

Ged Scott enjoys a colourful, if rather somnolent, sideshow to the World Cup.

Swing time: Steve Rhodes watches Phil Simmons hit out on his way to making 34 for the victorious World XI.

The white balls and black sightscreens remained the same and some of the pyjama-clad performers looked the same, too.

But nothing could have been further removed from the Carnival of Cricket than the Festival of Yawns on display at New Road yesterday.

While the World Cup begins to boil to a climax, this was after the Lord Mayor's Show, as expressed by the somnolent gathering of spectators who barely raised more than an appreciative murmur all day. That, however, may have had more to do with the lack of Worcester's traditional afternoon teas.

However, it was the hospitality guests, deprived of a potentially exciting one-dayer with New Zealand thanks to the Kiwis proving a more effective World Cup outfit than England, who most needed entertaining. Thus, this hastily-arranged encounter between Worcestershire and a World XI was set up.

A quick phone-round and eight World Cup casualties were booked. Well, nine if you count Warwickshire's Gladstone Small, that still-active veteran of the 1987 final and now glad simply to get a game anywhere.

The four West Indians, three Kenyans and a Sri Lankan - all filling time before they head home - were summoned more by the smooth-talking persuasive skills of Worcestershire's commercial manager and sheer love of cricket than any financial remuneration.

There were two more to make up the numbers and they came from the opposite end of the age scale. Nottinghamshire's young off-duty wicketkeeper Chris Read joined the 50-year-old John Lever, whose England career did not begin until the year after the first World Cup.

It all added up to a colourful sight on the park, with six different shades of pyjama on view; there was West Indies claret, Sri Lankan yellow-and-blue, Bears navy blue, Kenyan green, the Lincoln green of Nottingham and an interesting orange tracksuit; perhaps once worn by the Dutch football side of the Seventies, now, as worn by Lever, it was seemingly the property of Essex Old Boys.

Together, in the field, the World XI looked like a village side turning up for their first practice, wearing any manner of sports garment they could find at the back of a drawer. It was only when they went out to bat that the multi-coloured pyjama party had its benefits.

Suddenly, there was an answer to the age-old problem encountered by generations of frustrated spectators: No more wondering which player is which out in the middle, but a walking colour chart to work from! Why did nobody think of that before?

Sadly, there wasn't much colour in the way of on-field activity for the surprisingly large crowd, still no more than a thousand-strong, to enjoy.

There was one brave early foray from the first Worcestershire man clad in bottle green, Vikram Solanki, who treated neither Small nor Lever with any respect.

Once he'd gone, wickets tumbled fast, from 38 for nought to 56 for five, it was the sort of collapse we thought England had exclusive rights to. And it all meant panic in the hospitality tent, as the prospect of play being over by lunchtime loomed.

Help was at hand, though. Despite boasting figures of 7-5-3-2, the almost unplayable Courtney Walsh handed himself his sweatshirt, ordered himself not to do any more damage and told himself to go and have a rest, down at long leg.

And Graeme Hick, in the company of a newly-streamlined Stuart Lampitt, was allowed to rescue the innings, giving Walsh's globetrotters something like a total to go at.

Which they did fairly routinely, chiefly thanks to the early hard-hitting efforts of Kenyan Ravindu Shah, before West Indian Phil Simmons and Sri Lanka's Chandika Hathurusinghe forged the match-winning 77-run fifth-wicket partnership.

As usual at New Road, though, it was Hick's efforts that caused most interest, with the First Test against New Zealand starting at Edgbaston on July 1 - and the bars already buzzing with talk about whether he might get one final 'last chance'.

As far as this audition went, the adopted Zimbabwean held firm, but only against the sort of attack he's used to gorging himself on.

Having put on 103 precious runs in 22 overs with Lampitt, who remained unbeaten on 65, Hick eventually perished to a nonchalantly fantastic overhead boundary catch by Kenya's Hitesh Modi.

Despite Hick's second-innings century against Sussex last week, the shot which is more likely to have lodged itself in the selectors' minds will be the one which saw him lose his leg stump to Indian pace ace Danny Mohanty at Edgbaston a fortnight ago.

And with Mark Ramprakash and Michael Atherton to fit in, not to mention Mark Butcher returning and Alec Stewart dropping down the order, his goose may already be cooked.

Mind you, his efforts on a pitch which helped the slower bowlers - left-arm spinner Mohammed Sheikh's first delivery to Hick erupted off leg-stump past his right ear - did earn him the man-of-the-match award of a new television.

The chances are that, three weeks from now, he'll be able to sit and watch the First Test on it.



NEW ROAD (World XI won toss): World XI won by three wickets.


R Spiring c Walsh b Hathurusinghe... 5

V S Solanki c Sheikh b Small... 29

G A Hick c Modi b Hathurusinghe... 72

G R Haynes lbw Walsh... 1

D A Leatherdale c Read b Walsh... 0

S J Rhodes b Hathurusinghe... 5

S R Lampitt not out... 65

R K Illingworth not out... 8

Extras (lb5, w8)... 13

Total (six wickets, 50 overs)... 198

Fall of wickets: 1-38, 2-43, 3-44, 4-44, 5-56, 6-159.

Bowling: Lever 6-1-15-0, Small 6-0-27-1, Walsh 7-5-3-2, Hathurusinghe 9-1-40-3, Sheikh 10-1-37-0, Modi 10-0-59-0, Simmons 2-0-12-0.

Did not bat: D Catterall, M Rawnsley, A Sheriyar.


R Shah lbw Lampitt... 46

J C Adams c Spiring b Sheriyar... 8

H S Modi c Catterall b Rawnsley... 17

R Powell c Spiring b Illingworth... 19

U C Hath'snghe c Rhodes b Rawnsley... 43

P V Simmons run out... 34

C M W Read not out... 8

M Sheikh b Rawnsley... 12

G C Small not out... 0

Extras (lb6, w5)... 11

Total (seven wickets, 45.3 overs)... 199

Fall of wickets: 1-43, 2-71, 3-98, 4-99, 5-176, 6-180, 7-193.

Bowling: Sheriyar 6-0-31-1, Catterall 5-0-34-0, Haynes 2-0-14-0, Lampitt 5-1-23-1, Rawnsley 10-02-42-3, Illingworth 10-3-15-1, Solanki 7.3-1-34-0.

Did not bat: C A Walsh, J K Lever.

Umpires: K J Lyons and B Leadbeater.

Man of the match: Graeme Hick.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 12, 1999
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