July 9, 2000

Great competitive edge

Two unexpected Zimbabwean victories have added new life to the NatWest Series. England and West Indies no doubt expected to go into today's match with two points apiece, as they would if Zimbabwe had lived up to their usual reputation as sturdy fighters who are not quite up to the pressure.

NatWest Series

Instead, Zimbabwe twice in succession handled superbly the pressure of chasing competitive targets and have left their more renowned opponents so far pointless. This will add a great competitive edge to the match today, the losers knowing that they face intense pressure if they are to qualify for the final in two weeks' time.

Both teams had at least something positive to bring out of their respective matches against Zimbabwe. Both batted quite well, although not well enough, and England made a considerable discovery in the instant success of Marcus Trescothick, who scored 79 opening the batting on his debut. The West Indies had several good innings to remember, but they will want to forget their bowling. England at least did benefit from a fine opening burst by Darren Gough and Andy Caddick that reduced Zimbabwe to 35 for three at one stage.

The weather was overcast at the start of the match, with no sign of imminent rain, but the ground was half-full at the start and tickets were still on sale. Jimmy Adams won the toss and put England in to bat.

Walsh ommitted

England made one change to their team, with Craig White replacing Andy Flintoff, who is troubled by a back injury. West Indies had Sherwin Campbell back for Adrian Griffith, while West Indies brought in Corey Collymore for Reon King. Courteney Walsh, still not fully fit, was again omitted.

The teams were:

England: Marcus Trescothick, Alec Stewart (capt), Graeme Hick, Matthew Maynard, Graham Thorpe, Craig White, Mark Ealham, Robert Croft, Andy Caddick, Darren Gough, Alan Mullally.

West Indies: Sherwin Campbell, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Brian Lara, Ricky Powell, Jimmy Adams (capt), Ridley Jacobs, Franklyn Rose, Mervyn Dillon, Nixon McLean, Corey Collymore.