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Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 22:48
LEAGUE CREST Blain concerned over New Zealan's collapse
Tony Blain
Tony Blain was disappointed by New Zealand'scollaps at Lord's
Picture: © Mike Baker JCT600 Bradford League

There is one local man with a keen eye on this week's Second Test, at Headingley, between England and New Zealand and that is Gomersal based Tony Blain. 

Blain spent several years as understudy to the Kiwi's first choice keeper Ian Smith, presently commentating on the current series, but did make 11 Test appearances himself and faced the bowling of England's Ian Botham, Graham Dilley and Gladstone Small on his debut at The Oval in 1986.

He also went on to bat against Shane Warne and Glen McGrath of Australia and Pakistan swing kings Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Yet nothing prepared him for his countrymen's capitulation to Stuart Broad at Lords earlier this week.

"It was very disappointing," says Blain. "We got some solid canings by Pakistan but nothing quite like what happened at Lords.

"I think the balls they used swung that bit more and we are going to struggle at Headingley if they are using the same balls. If it swings again the side are going to be in trouble if they can't handle it."

Blain is certainly speaking from experience. Against that England attack he encountered on his debut, batting at nine, he defied the opposition for over two and a half hours to make a second highest score of 37.

He has been described as a 'polished right hand batsman' and his record shows him to have made 456 Test runs, 5,749 first class runs overall and, surprisingly for a wicket keeper, he took two first class wickets bowling leg breaks.

There certainly isn't any more bowling in the locker, a very stiff shoulder accounting for that, and back problems have put paid to keeping, but Blain is still amongst the runs.

He first came to England some years ago, playing for Gomersal in the Central Yorkshire League, and when his personal circumstances brought him back to the area he made contact once again with the now JCT600 Bradford League outfit where he has involved himself in helping develop younger players in 2nd X1 cricket.

After scoring just over 1,250 runs in the past two seasons he ended April as the League's top scorer this summer and already has one century to his name - but, at 51, things aren't getting any easier.

"I am still generally fit but I am having a problem with my shoulder at the moment," Blain said. "To be honest I am virtually batting one handed at the moment. But, depending on fitness I will carry on for a bit although I do have a home life to consider and that means playing just Saturday's."

Looking back on Blain's own Test career, it is interesting to note that his final appearance for the Kiwi's, against Pakistan in 1994, was in a team that included former Pudsey St Lawrence men Simon Doull, Chris Pringle and Mark Greatbatch.

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