Cairns bows out with 9 as Thorpe's ton sinks NZ

AFP , NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND

Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 20

Graham Thorpe's unbeaten 104 saw England to a four wicket win in the third Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Sunday.

England's victory, with more than a day to spare, saw them take the three-match series 3-0 when they finished on 284 for six -- a record fourth innings total to win a Trent Bridge Test.

It was the first time they had whitewashed a side in a major Test series since a 3-0 home defeat of New Zealand in 1978.

Surrey left-hander Thorpe's 14th Test hundred, his first at Trent Bridge since he made 114 not out on debut against Australia in 1993, ultimately saw him face 171 balls with 13 fours.

Together with Ashley Giles, 36 not out, he put on an unbroken 70 in 84 balls that saw England home.

Left-arm spinner Giles, who earlier took his best Test innings figures in England of four for 46, faced 45 balls with six fours, having made 45 in England's first innings.

Belief

Afterwards England captain Michael Vaughan, whose side have now won six of their seven Tests this year with one draw after a 3-0 triumph away to the West Indies, told reporters: "There's always a doubt when you chase 280. But we believed we were just one partnership away from getting the total."

"They made it difficult for us but there was always the belief we could win the game."

Dejected New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said his side had been undone by an injury crisis that saw several players sidelined at various times as well as England's resilience.

"It's been very close at times," Fleming said. "But we lost players with a lot of skill.

New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond missed the whole series and Fleming added: "Bond could have had a massive impact. He would have provided us with a spearhead."

Thorpe, 34, England's most experienced batsman, came to the crease in his 90th Test with the side in trouble at 46 for three.

But by the time they claimed the extra half hour, England were on their way at 259 for six.

New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns, 34 on Sunday and in his 62nd and last Test before retirement, took four for 108 and ended with match figures of nine for 187, his best against England.

But it was not enough and Giles marked the start of the extra half hour by hooking Cairns for four.

Knackered

"He [Cairns] leaves Test cricket knowing he can do no more," said Fleming. "He's pretty knackered."

England started the final session on 134 for four with Thorpe 34 not out.

They needed 150 more runs for victory after Cairns had struck with the last ball before tea to remove dangerman Mark Butcher for 59 -- the all-rounder's third lbw of the innings.

After the break, Flintoff struck Cairns for a powerful offside four. But, trying to repeat the stroke on five he saw the ball "stop" on a pitch of occasional uneven bounce and lob to substitute Hamish Marshall at mid-off.

Cairns, quitting the five-day game because of knee trouble, had earlier failed with the bat, his hopes of adding to his world record 87 Test sixes ended when he was bowled for one by Giles.

But having taken five for 79 in England's first innings on the ground where he starred for several seasons with Nottinghamshire, paceman Cairns could be proud of his final Test performance.