July 13, 2000

Zimbabwe's batting collapse is to England's bowlers credit

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Old Trafford, teatime: Zimbabwe 114 (38.3 overs); England to bat

After a fine 49-run partnership between Andy Flower and Stuart Carlisle, Zimbabwe collapsed in degrading fashion against England's third-string bowling attack for 114 all out. It was an disappointing display, but all credit to England, who exerted the pressure early on which caused the fragile nerves of the Zimbabweans to fail them. They set themselves up for their first victory of the tournament.

NatWest Series

Flower flourishes for a while

Andy Flower and Carlisle set about rebuilding the shattered Zimbabwe innings with great determination. Flower has stood out like a beacon with the bat for most of the last year, while Carlisle has a point to prove, with the selectors unwilling to give him a permanent place in the team in preference to batsmen with greater experience but poor current form. The bowling was still of high quality, although the fielding at times left a little to be desired. The hundred came up in the 35th over, and then Ealham finished his spell of 10-4-19-1, a superb job.

This was the time Zimbabwe should have made hay against lesser bowling. But, just as the partnership was approaching 50, Flower (28) dabbed at a ball from White outside the off stump and edged a catch to the keeper; Zimbabwe 114 for seven in the 38th over. Viljoen (0) fell without addition, appearing to lack the nerve for the occasion, sparring haplessly at three balls outside off stump before helpfully edging the fourth to the keeper. Still on 114, Carlisle (19) seemed to lose his concentration, driving half-heartedly at Trescothick and giving Stewart his third catch in a row and sixth in the innings, equalling the record of Australia's Adam Gilchrist. Finally Paul Strang (0) played all around his first ball from Trescothick to end Zimbabwe's degradation at the crease.

England's bowlers floor flawed Zimbabwe

England had bowled extremely well to take the first six wickets, but Zimbabwe had no excuse for the last four; it was sheer crass capitulation. England still have to get the runs, but Zimbabwe once again demonstrated they are still too psychologically flawed to enjoy consistent success at international level. They are probably incapable of winning this match on a fine pitch, but England, with their recent batting record, are perhaps just capable of losing it.