London: Captain Nasser Hussain conceded Saturday it was easy work leading England in home conditions after his side crushed Zimbabwe by an innings and 92 runs in the first Test at Lord’s (as reported in Sunday’s Late City edition).
Hussain was delighted to win within three days after losing what could have been a crucial toss, but added England still had a lot to learn. “We are a pretty good side when it swings around but unfortunately 80 per cent of cricket is played on flat tracks where it doesn’t,” he said.
“When it’s swinging, it easy being England captain.”
Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak, however, struggled to find any positives after his team went down 0-1 in the two-Test series.
“It’s very disappointing, especially when you win a toss on a wicket favourable for bowling,” he said. “Our bowlers didn’t create pressure and bowled too many four balls. There were a lot of soft dismissals throughout both our innings. A lot of our guys were sparring at balls they didn’t have to play. We can’t play with hard hands. We dropped a couple of catches and Mark Butcher made us pay.”
Butcher, who scored 137 and then took five wickets in the match with his occasional medium pace, was named Man of the Match. He was dropped on the first day while on 36.
“We are going to have to look at the balance of our side. There’s a lot of work to do and we are going to have to learn very quickly,” added Streak.
Zimbabwe have lost their last eight Tests. The second Test in Durham starts June 5.
Test debutant James Anderson started the Zimbabwe slide by snapping up five for 73 as the visitors managed just 147 in the first innings. Following on 325 runs adrift, they were bowled out for 233 in good batting conditions. The 20-year-old quick bowler, still playing club cricket just a year ago before making his mark at the World Cup, delighted a 20,000 crowd.
The second innings, however, provided two unlikely wicket-takers, occasional medium-pacers Butcher and Anthony McGrath sharing seven victims. In all on Saturday, 19 Zimbabwe wickets tumbled for 332 runs.
Matthew Hoggard provided the early first-innings inroads with three wickets in the morning.
By the end, though, Butcher and McGrath were challenging for the limelight as Zimbabwe went from bad to worse, their batting reduced to a shambles.
McGrath, another debutant and part-time bowler, underlined the inadequacy of the Zimbabwean challenge with three for 16, after making 69 in England’s only innings.
Zimbabwe crumbled twice to an attack missing Darren Gough, Andy Caddick and Andrew Flintoff. Starting Day 3 on 48 for one, they moved on to 64 before Hoggard induced Stuart Carlisle to drive loosely and edge to Marcus Trescothick at first slip.
Grant Flower, the batting key after brother Andy’s retirement, then gloved to short-leg for three before Dion Ebrahim, after an unconvincing 68, edged Butcher to gully. That exposed a long tail.
Wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu, at No. 5 despite a Test average of just over 16, looked robust enough for 25 before his ambitious heave over mid-wicket off Steve Harmison landed in third-man’s hands. Zimbabwe hardly put up a resistance in the first innings and despite a bright start in the second, all they could manage was a defeat inside three days.