White's dream shattered

 

ENGLAND achieved the comfortable win expected of them yesterday in Peshawar, Pakistan but for Craig White the World Cup dream has already been shattered beyond repair.

In a cruel re-run of events at Melbourne 14 months ago, the York all-rounder pulled muscle in his left side and now faces another long and lonely journey home.

"If anything, this one probably feels a bit worse," said a dejected White after England had crushed the United Arab Emirates by eight wickets with 15 overs to spare.

The 26-year-old will return to Yorkshire as soon as travel arrangements can be finalised and then try to get himself fit for the start of next season.

England, meanwhile, must decide on a replacement, with Dermot Reeve and Mike Watkinson the candidates. Both were left out when the World Cup squad was trimmed from 18 to 14 last month.

White, who converted himself from a spinner into a lively medium-pacer three years ago, saw his Ashes tour wrecked in mid-December, 1994, while producing a man of the match performance against Australia A. He finished that one-day game with three for 35 - and a torn muscle, which took two and a half months to heal properly.

Yesterday, White bowled eight deliveries without difficulty. But he tried to put some extra zip into the ninth and knew instantly from the pain in his left side that another campaign had been ended by an identical injury.

"It's the same old story," he said. "I was just starting to play well and get some confidence. It's extremely disappointing. Most fast bowlers have had this sort of injury but mine seem to, come when I'm in the limelight. I did try to hit the pitch a bit harder with that delivery and I put a bit more into it. I realised straight away what had happened."

Any possibility of a run least ended when the minnows elected to bat first. Phillip DeFreitas, recalled to the team on his 30th birthday after missing England's defeat by New Zealand, celebrated through removing both openers, while spinner Smith captured three wickets in eight balls on his World Cup debut before conceding so much as a single.

At 88 for seven, it was doubtful UAE would reach three figures. But all-rounder Johanne Samarasekera led them to 136 until being last out during the 49th over.

Bearing in mind the Emirates had conceded 321 runs against South Africa on Friday, England were unlikely to struggle facing such a small target.

Even so. Atherton dropped himself into the middle order in case solidity was needed. While he waited, Alec Stewart carelessly clipped paceman Arshad Laiq to short mid-wicket alter making 23 and Neil Smith, promoted to opener, had his innings of 27 cut short in the most unpleasant of circumstances.

"Neil had a pizza the night before which is now out there," said Illingworth, pointing to the edge of the square where Smith and the contents of his stomach parted company.

Not surprisingly, the makeshift opener retired ill. Atherton was bowled for 20 while advancing on spinner Azhar Saeed but lefthanders Graham Thorpe and Neil Fairbrother, though never hurrying, completed the task with plenty of time to spare.

All in all, the contest proved absolutely nothing. Emirates would struggle to give a good English club side a decent game and Atherton's men can expect a slightly tougher battle when they face Holland on Thursday.

But provided that match is also won, England should reach the quarter-finals regardless of how they tare in their remaining group B games against South Africa and Pakistan.