February 18, 2001

Alleyne hundred keeps England A hopes alive

Mark Alleyne battled bravely in a vain attempt to reach the Leeward Island's first innings total but he ran out of partners and England A fell short by 71 runs in their final round Busta Cup match in Anguilla.

For only the second time in seven matches, England A were behind at the half way stage and with one day remaining, a draw is the most likely outcome after Leewards extended their lead to 178 tonight, for the loss of two wickets.

Alleyne made a rapid but stylish century, an achievement he has been anticipating ever since he took a week out of the tour in Grenada to work on a technical flaw. After missing the game against Guyana, he returned in Barbados to make 40 and has improved with each innings, his composure growing in parallel with his tour aggregate which now stands at 291 runs.

He arrived at the crease in Anguilla shortly before the close on day two with the score on 103 for three and spent over two sessions today building up his total. It grew relatively quickly, his first 50 coming off 94 balls with six boundaries and his second off just 53 balls, when he add another six fours to his tally.

Not only was it an outstanding innings in the contribution it made to England A total but it was an attractive one, providing a small crowd with a show of steady but positive batting, his driving elegant and his pulling powerful and effective.

But while he accumulated at one end, his partners capitulated at the other and he stood and watched while six batsmen, who between them added 102 runs to the total, fell by the wayside.

Eventually Alleyne ran out of steam and when he was caught at mid on off the bowling of Carl Tuckett, England A's first innings was complete having reached 331 in reply to Leeward's formidable total of 402.

"It was nice to get in on a deck and I played well, hitting the ball nicely," said Alleyne.

"It was a shame we couldn't go on and get past their score but nevertheless the game is finely poised.

"The main factor has been sorting out the technical problem that was getting me out early on in the tour and since then I have gained confidence the longer I have been at the crease. There were parts of the innings I was pleased about but in all it was one of my better innings, up there with my better hundreds.

"We were very disappointed with our post-lunch session. The wicket was very good but it doesn't matter how good a wicket is, you still have to apply yourself and we failed to do that in the middle and lower order.

"Its not a huge setback not getting those first innings points. We have still qualified for the last four which is key but it was disappointing because this match posed some nice challenges. Chasing 400 is never an easy thing to do and if we had achieved that it would have filled us with a lot of confidence."

Despite that, Alleyne added, England A remained confident that victory in this match was still in their grasp, after knocking over two Leeward wickets in the closing session.

"It is still a good wicket and batting last, I still fancy our chances of winning the game. They need to win the match so their batters will need to come at us tomorrow to try and score at a quicker rate. They are 170 in front which is not nearly enough so I would imagine they will need a good session to put something interesting on the board.

"Ideally we would have liked a couple more wickets tonight but we missed a couple of half chances, dropping two catches so they could have been four wickets down tonight but once again we have o make sure we stay on top of your game.

"Both teams want to win the match so I see no reason why there shouldn't be an exciting finish tomorrow."