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Cairns effort in vain as NZ whitewashed

14 June 2004
NOTTINGHAM: A mighty final effort from Chris Cairns couldn't conjure up a fairytale ending as New Zealand suffered the dreaded 0-3 test cricket series whitewash against England overnight.

Led by an unbeaten 104 from Graham Thorpe, England chased down their target of 284 to win by four wickets late on the fourth day of the third test.

It gave captain Michael Vaughan the coveted 3-0 cleansweep England haven't achieved against anyone since 1978 when New Zealand were also on the receiving end.

Cairns pushed himself almost to a standstill in his 62nd and final test on his 34th birthday, taking match figures of nine for 178 including four for 108 off 25 overs in the second innings.

Without three injured bowlers Chris Martin, Kyle Mills and crucially spinner Daniel Vettori a crippled New Zealand attack relied on Cairns who was well down on pace but not on heart.

New Zealand were on top when Cairns trapped Vaughan leg before wicket for the second time in the match and England slumped to 46 for three.

But Thorpe dug in to anchor the chase with his 14th test century as Cairns ran out of steam along with support acts James Franklin, Jacob Oram and Scott Styris, and Ashley Giles whacked a quick 36 not out.

Man of the match Thorpe batted 234 minutes, faced 171 balls and hit the winning runs after England claimed an extra half hour as they sat just 26 short at the scheduled close.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, experiencing just the second 0-3 defeat of his captaincy career after Australia in 2000, paid special tribute to Cairns.

"It was massive, the old dog hasn't got much left in him test-wise but he did the job," Fleming said.

"The result hurts because we were in the game for so long, but we just lacked the firepower they had throughout the series. They probably played the game five miles per hour quicker than us with ball and bat."

Cairns was given a rousing ovation by his former home crowd at Trent Bridge but his team-mates quickly departed the ground as England's jubilant players showered each other with champagne.

When Cairns had Andrew Flintoff caught at cover by Hamish Marshall New Zealand's fourth substitute fielder of the match it topped his previous best match haul against England of eight for 138 in his fourth test in 1992.

But he couldn't take the elusive 10-bag which he only achieved once before, just missing a high caught and bowled off Giles who also cracked one through Hamish Marshall's outstretched hands at cover.

If their pace bowling was problem No 1, not far behind in recent tests was the worrying ability to nail teams to the wall in the third innings.

Having eyed a target of at least 350, they instead lost their last five wickets for 20 runs in 16 painful overs.

New Zealand's man of the series Mark Richardson's 49 remained the top score as Craig McMillan added just two to his overnight score of 28 before Stephen Harmison trapped him leg before wicket.

Oram continued a strangely flat test with a 10th ball duck, nicking out to Harmison, then Cairns entered to a generous ovation from the England players in his 104th and final test innings.

But there were no farewell fireworks and his world record total of test sixes remained on 87 as he faced just 13 balls for one.

Way down at No 9, Cairns never got out of neutral before Giles turned one past his outside edge and clipped off stump, leaving him with 3320 career runs at 33.54.

Giles took four for 46 in the second innings to highlight how much New Zealand missed Vettori.

Night watchman Franklin completed an impressive comeback to test cricket, batting 81 minutes for 17 then ending with match figures of six for 163 in his first test in three years.