Follow by Email

Sunday, April 22, 2007

England keep their best until last

England beat West Indies by one wicket from the penultimate ball of the match in one of the closest finishes in the history of the World Cup.

The game in brief: England won the toss and "chose to field first", then watched Chris Gayle (79/58b) and Dwayne Smith (61/106b) put on 131 in 23.5 overs (143b) to set up a platform, upon which the batters who followed, except for Marlon Samuels (51/39b), failed to build as sturdily as they should have. Still 300 all out was, by their previous standards in the tournament, a good, perhaps surprisingly good, score. And probably enough to win.

Until Michael Vaughan ( an overdue 79/58b), Kevin Pietersen (a commanding 100/91b) and Paul Nixon ( a characteristic 38/39b) decided that valour was the better part of discretion. From the second ball of the final over Nixon was ninth out at 298; number 11 Jimmy Anderson with a leg bye and then Stuart Broad with a lofted two took England past the finishing post with a ball to spare.

The pity is not that one team had to lose but that both left it until they'd passed the point of no further progression to draw upon reserves of skill and determination which they may not have realised themselves that they possessed.

Some of the game's many highlights are included on Cricinfo's Plays of the Day feature. One which isn't was Paul Collingwood's catch to dismiss Samuels: this was shown on tonight's ABC-TV News, and described thus by the Cricinfo commentators:

Flintoff to Smith, OUT, what a catch - a remarkable, gravity-defying catch! Smith slashed seemingly over Paul Collingwood at backward point who sprung up, swivelling as he did so, taking the ball high in the air. A quite brilliant example of athleticism and hand-eye co-ordination.

Also on Cricinfo S Rajesh reviews Brian Lara's career and Rajesh and H R Gopalakrishna provide their customary detailed statistical examination of the game.


Other observations

The Barbados pitch appears to have played very well. This should ensure a good, if high scoring game, in next week's final.

# The West Indies will face yet another bleak period of rebuilding as Fazeer Mohammed argues in a trenchant piece:

...baseless optimism and the absence of real accountability has brought us right where we are: used, abused and humiliated under the whip of the ICC and their minions in the Local Organising Committee's (LOCs), bundled out of what was laughingly described as "our" World Cup even before the last two Super Eights matches, a fractured, underperforming team, a technical staff incapable of insisting on any sort of standard, and an administration preoccupied with all sorts of silver-tongued public relations foolishness in the midst of almost irreversible decay.


I had spoken about how change for change's sake since 1995 has made no difference. Now, though, we should consider real change: not replacing one for another of like mind, but installing personnel who will abide by a code of conduct, on the field and off it, that rewards performance, commitment and integrity and is not compromised by expediency and convenience when it comes to dealing with those - in the dressing room or the boardroom - who make a habit of stepping out of line.

# England will also face a lot of scrutiny from their supporters and media. At the moment only Duncan Fletcher and Paul Nixon, the former for perceived incompetence, the latter for being too old (if hardly incompetent), look likely to be discarded from the England camp (Michael Vaughan's 79 may have left the jury deliberating on him). I can't for the life of me see why Matthew Hoggard , who has just made a significant contribution to Yorkshire's defeat of Surrey, isn't considered good enough to play in England's one day side. He was by far their best test bowler here in the Ashes series.

Post a Comment