Swann spins England A to victory
England A completed a comprehensive win over Windward Islands today earning maximum points in the Busta Cup and a free day on the beach before they travel to Anguilla for their seventh round match against Leeward Islands.
The game was wrapped up quickly in St Lucia after England A set Windwards a target of 159 to avoid an innings defeat. Having been dismissed for 288 in the morning session, England A needed less than 50 overs to snap up all ten wickets, seven of them going to the spin attack of Graeme Swann, who finished with match figures of 9-62 to earn him man of the match award, and Chris Schofield who took 3-45.
Few of the Windward batsmen put up any resistance though Devon Smith made a watchful 42 and John Eugene held up the tourists progress with a powerfully struck 23 before being bowled around his legs by Schofield.
By 5.00pm, the presentations had been made and the Vodafone shirts were back on the field playing football as part of their warm down exercises. But despite having three victories in the tournament, they still cannot be assured of their place in the semi-finals until the results of the other matches in Berbice and Nevis are known later tomorrow.
Guyana, who are playing Jamaica, and Barbados who won first innings points against Leeward Islands, both need victories to deny England A a chance in the Busta International Shield, which will be contested by the four top teams in the qualifying Busta Cup.
The expert performances of the England A players in exploiting the opposition weaknesses was a point highlighted by skipper Mark Alleyne, who top scored for England A with a comfortable 64.
"You look at the table and see Windward Islands without any points but you still have to dig in there and play your best and that is what we did," he said.
"I was very worried about the weather hence our decision to put Windwards into bat first. We thought if we batted well first innings, we would take too much time out of the game so we stuck them in and dictated the pace after that.
"It was a bit of a crusty wicket and turned generously for the spinners if they put it in the right areas. Batting wise, we had a couple of hiccups but still managed to get nearly 300 runs which was great. I had a good knock myself and Graeme Swann (49) and Paul Franks (48) came in and did well lower down the order. Bowling wise, Swann and Ryan Sidebottom stood head and shoulders above the others.
"We were only 80 runs in front this morning and we didn't want to bat last on this wicket so wanted to get 150 ahead. It proved enough for the Windward guys - it is the worse batting side we have come across, they had no plan or strategy at all and it all fell apart.
"Swann has got into his rhythm quickly. With batsmen lacking in concentration, if you have someone who is prepared to bowl a lot of overs and put the ball in the right spot, you are going to get good results and that is what Graeme has done. He has bowled well."
"I think we are pretty much guaranteed a semi-final place. A good result against Leewards would give us a home tie in Grenada though I don't know if that is a good thing or not," he said, referring to the slow pitch at the Grenada National Stadium.
"But I'm not really bothered. So long as we are in the last four, I'm happy.