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  Monday, 20 August, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Butcher battles back
Mark Butcher
Butcher treated Australia's bowlers with disdain
BBC Sport Online profiles England's match-winning batsman Mark Butcher.

Mark Butcher could have been playing second XI cricket this summer instead of leading England to a dramatic Test victory at Headingley.

His remarkable innings of 173 not out took England to a most unlikely triumph after a stunning chase for 315 to win the Test.

Just weeks before his call-up by England for the opening Ashes Test, the Surrey left-hander was on the verge of being relegated to the county's second side.

His early season form had been poor to say the least and had it not been for an injury to county team-mate Graham Thorpe he would have been dropped from Surrey's first team.

But he came good with the bat in Surrey's Benson & Hedges Cup semi-final and then followed it up with 86 in the county championship.

Yet his recall to the England set up after more than a year away still came as something of a surprise.

Mark Butcher
Butcher came back into the side at Edgbaston
But his reselection has proved an inspired choice by the England selectors.

He scored 38 and 41 in the opening Test at Edgbaston to silence the doubters who question his recall.

He followed that up with 21 and 83 at Lord's before failing twice at Trent Bridge.

But he put that disappointment, and losing the Ashes, behind him to register 47 in the first innings at Headingley before his superb 173 not out on Monday.

It was in stark contrast to his nightmare year in 2000, which saw him not only lose his England place but also see his marriage collapse.

In a bid to rediscover his form and get his career back in touch, he worked hard on his technique with his father Alan.

"I've done a fair bit of rebuilding in certain parts of my game during the winter and that's taken a little bit of time to bed down this summer, but it seems to be working so far," he said when he was recalled to the England side.

Mark Butcher
Butcher was strong through the off-side
David Graveny and Nasser Hussain knew the strength of character of Butcher when they opted for him ahead of a less experienced batsmen.

Unerringly positive, his comments before the final day at Headingley indicated the kind of innings that he was about to play.

"It's very important you go out there with a positive attitude and look to try and win the game.

"If we don't manage that then of course we have to look to hang on, but if you go out there looking to draw a game at the outset you put yourself in difficulty, which isn't necessary.

"If you go out there basically looking to survive for 90 overs against that sort of bowling attack on a pitch offering a little bit of assistance, you will get yourself into a little bit of trouble."

By taking the attack to Australia he ultimately gave the hosts the impetus needed for a dramatic victory.

Now, his 2001 average against Australia standing at 83.8 he has booked his place on the winter tours to India and New Zealand.

When he could have spent the winter contemplating a career outside cricket he will now be seeking to repeat his feats on tour.


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