England frustrated by heavy downpour

Old Trafford

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Assistant coach Paul Farbrace was disappointed to see rain curtail England’s bid to build a big lead over India at Old Trafford, but conceded it would have been dangerous to try and resume the match with conditions as they were.

England had reached 237-6 and a first-innings lead of 85 over India when the players were forced off by a torrential downpour during the afternoon session on day two.

Although the rain stopped, large amounts of water collected on the outfield and the groundstaff could not get the playing area sufficiently ready for the match to resume and play was abandoned for the day following an inspection at 5.40pm.

That was frustrating for England and the crowd, but for Farbrace it was the right decision.

Asked if it the conditions in the affected areas were dangerous for the players, Fabrace said: “Of course it is.

“And the other thing is, I’m sure the Indians wouldn’t be too keen to see the ball keep disappearing into that, getting wet and boggy. The umpires can’t keep changing the ball every time it goes in there, and it would ruin the ball, the seam would become soft quickly, so I don’t think either team would really be pleased with that.

“It is a pity though because, so far, it’s been a very good game. The pitch is fantastic, it’s accelerated the game forward nicely and it was a good partnership developing between Butts (Jos Buttler) and Rooty (Joe Root) there, so we didn’t really want to come off when we did come off to be fair.”

Root was unbeaten on 48 when the players were forced off while Buttler, playing in his second Test, was 22 not out off 53 balls as he showed a different side to his game having hit a blistering 85 on debut.

Farbrace said of the 23-year-old wicketkeeper: “I thought he was very watchful. Jos showed today that he really can fight, get stuck in, he’s a talented cricketer with so much to give. Their partnership was just starting to go in the right direction today.

“An 85 lead at this stage, I think we’re in a quite a good position, but we want to bat on and get as a big a lead as we can tomorrow.”

Mike Watkinson, director of cricket at host club Lancashire, later said that recent construction work at that end of the ground had meant drainage was not as efficient as it should be.

Former England batsman Geoff Boycott believes the abandonment of could damage the game.

The former Yorkshire captain said: “How many cricketers would run down there? This sort of thing hurts cricket.

“The evening is set, we could easily play on.

“Did the groundstaff know about this? If so, they should have covered it or brought the boundary in.

“It wouldn’t have been pleasant fielding on it, but we have to get on with the game. There’s a bigger picture. People pay a fortune to watch. That’s bigger than a couple of cricketers slipping over.”

Jonny Bairstow clubbed a brilliant 123 but it proved to be in vain as England Lions fell short in their run chase against New Zealand A.

The Yorkshire wicket-keeper was comfortably England’s highest scorer as they were bowled out for 260 in their pursuit of 282, with only Jason Roy (42) offering a semblance of support in a 22-run defeat. It was harsh on Bairstow –one of England’s match-winners when they beat Sri Lanka A in this triangular series on Wednesday – that when his 116-ball knock ended so did England’s reply, but he could rest assured that he had done his bit, hitting 12 fours and two maximums along the way.

Doug Bracewell and Matt Henry led the way in the bowling for the Kiwis, taking three each, as England consistently struggled – especially as they slumped to 48-4.

Dean Brownlie assumed the Bairstow role of comfortably leading the scoring for New Zealand, hitting 115 with the nearest highest scorer being Grant Elliott with 42.

David Willey did his burgeoning reputation no harm with five wickets, although his economy rate of over six and over did not make such pleasant reading.

Tom Smith also chipped in with a couple of wickets but the chase was always going to be a tough one for England. It proved to be that way too as Bairstow and Roy apart, the batsmen laboured, with six of them failing to make double figures.

Openers Alex Hales and James Vince made just eight between them, while James Taylor and Willey also failed in the middle order.

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