July 16, 2000

Extraordinary fightback wipes out West Indies' hopes

Grant Flower and Murray Goodwin
Murray Goodwin and Grant Flower - Record partnership
Photo © AllSport UK

An extraordinary fightback from Zimbabwe enabled them to pull off an amazing victory over West Indies by six wickets. That defeat wiped out any lingering hopes that West Indies might have been harbouring of reaching the final of the NatWest Series.

NatWest Series

A winning target of 288 seemed a tall order for Zimbabwe and despite losing three for 79 and then four for 104, they stuck earnestly to their task. Two run-outs of those four wickets did not help matters but man-of-the-match Murray Goodwin and Grant Flower took up the challenge and kept their side in the game during their fighting fifth wicket stand. It saw Goodwin reach his second century in limited-overs cricket from 130 balls, a just reward for his enterprising batting.

Grant Flower played an equally brilliant innings and as their stand progressed, he took over the role of the major run-getter. He gave a superb exhibition of aggressive batting. While the two batsmen played their shots all round the wicket, finding gaps in the field, West Indies' fielders looked on helplessly. The fielding became ragged and the bowling lost its direction as they conceded ninety runs in the last nine overs.

Record partnership

Zimbabwe's unbroken fifth wicket stand of 186 is their highest for any wicket in limited-overs cricket. While Goodwin was 112 not out, Flower was left unbeaten just four short of his century as the reached the target with five balls to spare.

Earlier in the West Indies' innings it was almost like coming home for Sherwin Campbell. The West Indies opener had kept back his finest innings of this tour for the idyllic surroundings of the Riverside ground which was his home in the summer of 1996. That season his form did not allow him to demonstrate to the supporters of his county side, Durham, his true prowess so he made up for that today.

Crowd basks in sunshine

In the presence of another fine crowd - though nothing like the capacity attendance for the England game yesterday - which basked in a rare day of sunshine this summer, Campbell gave a marvellous display which brought him a century from 133 balls. He had never played a three-figure innings during that one season he spent in the North-East, the best he was able to do then was to reach a half-century in a one-day match.

Having decided to bat first, West Indies made full use of a fine pitch and piled on the runs. The foundation for their innings was built quickly as Campbell and Wavell Hinds put on 86 for the first wicket after twenty overs. It was after Hinds had departed for 42, attempting another big hit to add to his seven boundaries, that West Indies appeared to take the game away from Zimbabwe.

It all happened during that eventful 173-run partnership between Campbell and Brian Lara. If Campbell's innings was good and no doubt it really was, then Lara's was simply magnificent. He was in superb touch and his knock overshadowed that fine innings of Campbell. In the duration of their stand, which was over 25 overs, Zimbabwe's bowlers could find no penetration whatsoever. It was total domination by the two batsmen with Lara playing the leading role.

Lara: most entertaining sight

When Lara is in such form there is not a more entertaining sight in cricket, perhaps, with the exception of that little master from India, Sachin Tendulkar. All seven bowlers that Zimbabwe tried suffered today with left-arm medium-pacer Dirk Viljoen coming of the worst in terms of conceding runs. He did, however, hit back, dismissing both batsmen and Hinds before them. With the help of three towering sixes, Lara needed only 76 balls in his grand innings of 87 which the Geordies here in the North-East are unlikely to forget for sometime as, indeed, they will remember the partnership of Goodwin and Flower that brought about a most memorable victory for Zimbabwe.

Beardsley: "Fantastic achievement"

Taking a break from working with Kevin Keegan as a coach to the England football team, former England and Liverpool star and a great cricket enthusiast, Peter Beardsley has enjoyed the week-end's cricket at Riverside. As a true Geordie, he is proud of the progress cricket has made and the development of facilities in the North-East. "A lot of hard work has gone on here in Durham to get the international game and luckily there is a week-end of two great matches. That is a fantastic achievement," he said.

"Look at the turn-out, a full house on Saturday and another good crowd for the second day even though England are not playing. All the hard work has been worth it, it's been a long road and a lot of people have also worked behind the scene. For us in the North-East to have games like these is very encouraging.

Leading among the people who were instrumental in developing the facilities and bringing cricket of this level to the area was Don Robson who is leader of the Durham County Council and former chairman of the National Cricket Association, before it merged with the ECB.

"Cricket - a great family sport"

Beardsley said: " Cricket is a family sport, a great sport, I have always been keen on it, as a boy I played at Wallsend Cricket Club and in school too. I wasn't much of a batsman but I did all right as a wicket-keeper. My boy now plays at school, he is a wicket-keeper. He is still young so he hasn't progressed to club level as yet but I'll encourage him.

"There are young cricketers now coming into the England squad, that is good for this area, sport means a lot in the north-east and they crave for a good cricket team as well as a good football team."

Beardsley went on to say:" The facilities here at Chester-le-Street cater for the entire area. There is a boy, Nicky Peng, in Jesmond, from a school just across the road from my son Drew's school and he has now played first-class cricket for Durham this season, scoring 98 on his debut. So it's fantastic that we have youngsters coming through and that is the future of sport.

Youngsters should be encouraged

"I would always encourage youngsters to take up the game after the way cricket has taken off in this part of the country. I would be genuinely delighted to see my boy do well at either cricket or football. Even though I was a footballer, if he represented England in either I'd be ecstatic."

He then went on to say: "I am helping Kevin Keegan with the England squad, the full national side. We are doing O.K., we didn't have a good run at Euro 2000, but in September we have got the World Cup preparation to look forward to and that is the thing now to get ready for.

"I am glad to see a lot of cricketers who have finished playing are asked to join in for coaching and generally to give advice and so on. But in football there are not so many places for ex-players. In cricket the Board seems to encourage a lot more to join in to help which I think is a great idea.

Durham compares favourably with Test Match centres

He finally added:" People thought that because of the weather, cricket wouldn't take off in this area but it has done so. We have a ground now to compare with other Test grounds, which is fantastic for people like me who love the sport and are able to come and watch.

"The main aim is to get the five-day game here, I think it's very close after the success of the one-dyers here. The people who decide on Test venues will, I hope, make the right decision and bring it to Durham."