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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 19:10 GMT
All White now

White claimed the third best England one-day figures

BBC News Online's Thrasy Petropoulos reports from Bulawayo.

Such has been his influence throughout the one-day tour, it will have been forgotten by most that Craig White's name was not in the original squad selected last summer.

Largely forgotten by England since he returned home early from the tour to Australia five years ago, White had resigned himself to anonymity by accepting a winter contract to play one-day cricket in New Zealand.

Best winter ODI bowling figures
6-19: HK Olonga, Zim v Eng at Cape Town
5-15: MA Ealham, Eng v Zim at Kimberley
5-20: SM Pollock, SA v Eng at Johannesburg
5-21: C White, Zim v Eng at Bulawayo
Had he not, it is possible that his name would not have come out of the hat to replace the injured Andy Flintoff.

His selection ahead of apparently more attractive candidates from the A tour was, it seemed to many, a monumental step backwards. How could a thirty-something who had not come close to featuring in the World Cup be preferred to a young hopeful?

This, after all, was supposed to be the building block for the next World Cup in South Africa in three years' time.

That argument has since been turned on its head.

Reliable seamer

The selectors' claim that they were aiming to replace "like with like" falls short when White's batting is set beside the explosive potential offered by Flintoff.

All-rounder White also top-scored with the bat
But with the ball, however, White has been far more effective than the Lancashire all-rounder could have hoped for.

After arriving as the extra, he soon leap-frogged Gavin Hamilton, originally earmarked to be pushed as much as Vikram Solanki.

Even Ashley Giles, though a left-arm spinner, has probably been overlooked by the attraction of fielding three medium-pace all-rounders in the middle order.

The second one-dayer in Bulawayo was merely the icing on the cake for White, the first time his efforts had come close to making headlines.

Closer inspection reveals that he has been the most successful bowler of his type throughout the tour, with 13 wickets from seven games at an average of under 20.

In Bulawayo, where there was a danger that England would be badly exposed for lack of acclimatisation, his two games earned him eight wickets for 50 runs.

Team player

This is the first time White can feel he has really belonged in the England team.

His Test debut was far from a disgrace but at the time he as tagged as one of "Illy's boys" - the Yorkshire brigade (which included Darren Gough and Richard Illingworth) brought into the side in one fell selectorial swoop by fellow Tyke Ray Illingworth.

In fact his on his Test debut, against New Zealand six years ago, he was deemed by wicketkeeper Jack Russell as harder into the gloves than Gough or Devon Malcolm.

White's Test days are behind him now but he has proved that he still has a role to play in the one-day game.

He will have to produce more innings like his 26 in difficult circumstances in Bulwayo.

Next time, though, it is up to him to get the job done off his own bat.

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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
Wobbly England scrape home
18 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
It wasn't pretty - Hussain
17 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
England's man of mystery
16 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
Hick's victory six
15 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
England desperate to finish on high note
Links to other England on Tour stories are at the foot of the page.