Key and Strauss lead England to easy win
England 225 for 4 (Strauss 92*, Key 83) beat Wales 222 for 8 (Hemp 52, Powell 49) by six wickets
England warmed-up for the NatWest Series by brushing past Wales by six wickets in the third and final annual match between the sides at Cardiff. After the England bowlers restricted Wales to 222 for 8, Robert Key and Andrew Strauss rescued their side from a nervy 30 for 2 as England ended up comfortable winners.
The England selectors decided to rest Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison for the game, and Marcus Trescothick took over the captaincy. It was Robert Croft, the Wales captain, however, who won the toss, and he opted to bat. His team then came up against an impressive bowling display from England, including the debutant Sajid Mahmood, who took two wickets.
The new-ball pair of James Anderson and Darren Gough struck early when Ian Thomas top-edged an attempted pull off Anderson, and Croft popped a Gough bouncer back to the bowler for 16 (38 for 2). Mike Powell, who was close to being picked for England's NatWest Series squad, steadied things down with 49 from 68 balls, and added 46 with Matthew Maynard, who was caught spectacularly by Strauss at point off Anthony McGrath for 20 (84 for 3).
Powell then put on another handy stand with David Hemp before Powell was caught by Paul Collingwood at short midwicket off Ashley Giles. Hemp took over the mantle and he top-scored with 52, from 84 balls including four boundaries. He was the first of Mahmood's two wickets, caught by Trescothick as Wales slumped to 179 for 6. However, a plucky 31 not out from 37 balls from Mark Wallace down the order boosted Wales to a more respectable score.
England then suffered an early loss when Trescothick edged a lifting delivery from Dave Harrison behind to Wallace, the wicketkeeper, for 1 (4 for 1). Geraint Jones, in his first limited-overs appearance for England, came in at No. 3, and cracked five boundaries on the way to 21, but was then bowled by Harrison playing across the line (30 for 2).
Strauss and Key then took over, putting on 138 together which effectively won England the game. Key, the first player to 1,000 first class runs this season, continued his good form, hammering a six and seven fours in his 83 from 95 balls. Strauss was just as impressive, even though he rode his luck at times. He was dropped on 2 and 35, but made the most of his lives to finish unbeaten on 92 from 86 balls, including 11 fours and a six.
Key was eventually caught behind off Steffan Jones, and Wallace took his third catch of the innings when Collingwood also nicked Jones behind (195 for 4). However, Strauss, with help from McGrath, kept his cool to guide England home with over 10 overs to spare.