English media relieved after win against Kiwis

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:A sense of relief was palpable in the British press after England finally won its first match during its ongoing tour of Australia, a One-day triumph over New Zealand, leading newspaper here to call it the "headline you thought you'd never see".

That was how The Sun tabloid, Britain's best-selling newspaper, titled its article describing the jittery affair in Hobart on Tuesday that saw England beat the Kiwis' modest total of 205, thereby securing their first victory since landing in Australia in early November.

The three-wicket win with just a ball to spare followed a disastrous Test series for England, who arrived in Australia as holders of the Ashes for the first time in 20 years, only to lose all five matches in the series, the first whitewash since 1920-21.

"England's win ... over New Zealand on the island of Tasmania yesterday (Tuesday) sent a surge of relief through the dressing room," the tabloid's match report read.

"A win is a win and the spectre of going through the entire tour without putting a W in the result column has been removed."

The victory, led by Andrew Flintoff's 72 not out, was tempered in the press, however, by the news that captain Michael Vaughan strained his left hamstring in his second game back from a long absence after knee surgery.

"Break open the bubbly, England have won a game of cricket Down Under!" the Daily Mirror's match report said, under the headline, "Good News ... Bad News".

"But England's obvious joy was spoiled when the very same ice used to chill the champagne was being applied to Michael Vaughan's strained left hamstring."

As the paper also noted, "When England set off from Heathrow (London's main airport) on November 3 they could not have imagined how long it would take to get there, but 72 days into their journey the dust in the win column can finally be blown away and a mark chalked up."

The Guardian daily echoed those sentiments, writing: "England had arrived in Australia on bonfire night as proud holders of the Ashes and since then there had been a bonfire of the vanities, a veritable conflagration, with Flintoff, as a beleaguered stand-in captain, one of those most badly singed."

The Daily Express, meanwhile, wrote that the path to the win was unimportant: "Yes, England's first victory of a winter of torment Down Under was a nervous and scrappy affair."

"Yes, they almost threw it away chasing a low total. But they did it. They stumbled over the line. They won.

"And that was all that mattered to a team that were in danger of becoming a music-hall joke. One precious word -- victory."

With 17 balls to go, a win seemed a formality, but New Zealand clawed their way back, leaving England needing four off the last over and tail-end batsman Jon Lewis on strike against part-time seamer Craig McMillan.

Lewis scored a single from the second ball of the over, before Flintoff collected two off the next delivery and then hit the winning runs with a straight drive from the penultimate ball of the match.

Following the win, British bookmaker William Hill cut England's odds of winning the triangular series from 16/1 to 13/2.

But Hills had world champions Australia 1/8 favourites to take the tournament and 4/7 to win all four of their group matches against England.


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