Five out of ten
Last Updated: 25/03/08 9:07am
Atherton: England on the verge
Mike Atherton was left disappointed with England's approach in Napier on day four of the final Test against New Zealand, despite needing only five more wickets to seal a series win.
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"England dithered around this morning. They had perfect conditions at the start of the day for swing bowling but they decided not to utilise them."
Mike Atherton Quotes of the week
Monty Panesar and Stuart Broad took five Kiwi wickets when England eventually set New Zealand the unlikely target of 553 to win the match, declaring on 467-7 after 40 minutes of play on Tuesday morning.
Atherton thought England spurned some good bowling conditions in order to either increase their total or give Andrew Strauss the chance of making a double hundred. The left-hander added only four to his overnight score of 173 before lofting a catch to Mathew Bell off Jeetan Patel.
"England (are) on the verge of a Test match victory and a Test match series triumph," Atherton said.
"They just need five wickets tomorrow, they are half way there. We thought it might be a long drawn out process because the pitch is still good and that is how it proved to be.
"England dithered around this morning. They had perfect conditions at the start of the day for swing bowling but they decided not to utilise them.
"They wanted to extend their innings this morning a little and whether it was to try to get Strauss to 200, I am not sure. But it wasted a whole first session and then New Zealand came out and played pretty well."
Atherton was impressed with the performance of two Kiwi batsmen, under-fire opener Bell and departing ex-skipper Stephen Fleming, and also by England's wicket-takers, Broad and Panesar.
He said: "Jamie How, they lost quite early, but Mathew Bell, under all sorts of pressure playing for his place and his career, he managed to get into the 60s.
"Stephen Fleming, playing in his last Test match, got a wonderful ovation when he came to the crease, he got the fifty odds runs he needed to get his average over 40 and then he got a wonderful ovation leaving the ground for the last time.
"Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar got all the wickets between them, bowling unchanged for a two-hour spell in the afternoon.
"Wonderful bowling from Broad and Panesar to leave New Zealand tottering at five down in the evening and England need five more tomorrow to wrap things up."
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