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Key sympathises with rival Butcher.

Robert Key today offered support to Mark Butcher, his main rival for a place in England's opening Test line-up against South Africa. Key is the man in possession having taken over just before the start of the home series against West Indies last summer.

But Butcher's record since regaining his place in the summer of 2001 stands comparison with any member of England's line-up and he will be hoping his failure and Key's match-winning innings during the eight-wicket victory over Nicky Oppenheimer's XI at Randjesfontein yesterday are not a major factor in the selection dilemma.

'I certainly don't know what's going to happen and it's tough, but there's not an awful lot you can do about it, really,' said Key, who hit 87 off 85 balls while Butcher was dismissed for six as England inched closer to victory.

'All you can do is try and play as well as you can.

'When I got picked after Butch was involved in a car crash it was pretty harsh on him and he's not had much luck in the last few months so if he goes in ahead of me there won't be much of an argument.'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 9, 2004
Words:195
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