February 10, 2001

England A take first innings points amid the rain

England A collected more bonus points today after skipper Mark Alleyne made his first half-century in the Busta Cup against Windward Islands in St Lucia.

Mark Alleyne
Mark Alleyne
Photo CricInfo

His innings gave England A a lead of 79 runs over their opponents but weather permitting, they will have to double their total from 208 for six tomorrow to gain the outright win they need from this match to make sure of their semi-final place.

More rain fell over the Mindoo Phillip ground in Castries allowing just 76 overs to be bowled on the second day and it was an offer of bad light that finally forced Alleyne and his partner Chris Read off the field with another rain-affected day forecast tomorrow.

Alleyne's 50 came off 97 balls and included three fours and a big six pulled through mid-wicket off pace bowler Fernix Thomas, who later retired hurt after dropping the ball and falling onto it, twisting his knee in the process.

Not only did his innings signal a welcome return to form for the captain but it also brought stability to England A's middle order after a rocky start to their reply which at one point saw the tourists struggling at 69 for four.

Ian Ward showed he is not invincible when trying to dig out a yorker from Shane Shillingford, he was bowled having made 25 and John Crawley who looked set fair for a big score was caught behind for 23 off the main strike bowler Thomas.

Usman Afzaal was run out by a fine return throw from cover and Chris Schofield, having provided a contrasting style to the smooth and steady Alleyne to form a useful 45-run partnership, was bowled to leave England A five wickets down and still 16 runs short of the 130 target needed for first innings bonus points.

But Graeme Swann, who had earlier taken the last three Windward wickets in 15 deliveries to wrap up the innings for 129, joined Alleyne and played with calm assurance. With a drive through extra cover for four, he took England A past the target and from that point on, the runs started to flow more easily.

He pulled Deighton Butler over mid-wicket for six and picked off quick singles to rattle up 48 runs propelling his side towards 200 but two runs short of his half-century, he received a delivery from spinner Orlanzo Jackson that was pushed to silly mid off. The umpire raised his finger and Swann departed though was later surprised to find he had been adjudged lbw rather than caught.

"It's gone well today," said Swann who joined the tour three weeks ago in Grenada after his county colleague Jason Brown left to take up England duty in Sri Lanka.

"It was good to get those quick wickets this morning and then get some runs on the board this afternoon. I haven't bowled that well on this tour, compared to how I can bowl, but I'm pretty happy with the way things are going. It was good to get a five-for and mop up the tail.

"I didn't realise I was two runs of a half-century until I came off the field. But I felt good when I was batting and it was a shame to find I had been given out leg before but it is just one of those things."

"It started well this morning but we didn't start well with the bat but rallied around at the end to finish 79 ahead which is a good position to be in. We have a good chance of winning now if we can push on tomorrow and get 200 ahead perhaps.

"The way we have been bowling sides out means we can back ourselves to win this game," Swann said.