July 18, 2000

England move towards victory

Alec Stewart
Alec Stewart - century inspires England
Photo © CricInfo

Confident approach

Edgbaston, 30 overs: England 262 for eight; Zimbabwe 119 for five (Campbell 47, A Flower 1)

England moved confidently towards victory over Zimbabwe in their NatWest Series match at Edgbaston this evening. After running up 262 for the loss of eight wickets, with a superb 101 from Alec Stewart the main contribution, they tied down Zimbabwe's early batsmen until, under pressure to score more quickly, they brought about a middle-order collapse. After 30 overs, Zimbabwe were struggling at 199 for five, requiring a scoring rate in excess of seven an over to win the match.

Bowlers peg back Zimbabwe batsmen

NatWest Series

When Zimbabwe batted, Caddick began with a maiden to the aggressive Johnson, and he and Gough contained him with very straight, length bowling. However, Johnson bided his time and managed to keep the score moving, although slowly; he had a lucky escape when a leading edge induced by Gough lobbed on the off side just out of reach of all three fielders inside the ring there. Whittall, though, became quite bogged down; with only 3 runs to his account in the ninth over, he lashed out at Caddick and hit a catch straight at White in the covers; Zimbabwe 25 for one.

After 11 overs Zimbabwe had managed to post only 27 runs on the board, and there were signs of desperation as Johnson and Campbell tried to increase their run rate. The fifty did not come up until the 16th over. They kept their wickets, however, and Johnson hit Mullally for a six into the stand under the new scoreboard at wide long-on. He was given no opportunity to play his off-side drives until he finally produced one to reach his fifty, which slowed him considerably, but he swung a few to leg with success and drove straight. He then swung at a leg-side ball from Hick, the ball bobbing up for a catch taken by the keeper turning round and running back, and was given out caught off the glove; Zimbabwe 87 for two. He won few friends, though, by swishing his bat as he left the wicket. Next ball Carlisle, who has had little chance to bat for weeks, fished outside the off stump and was caught more straight-forwardly by the keeper.

Deja vu
Campbell / Goodwin deja rue

Then came an ill-advised run-out to match that of Sunday's match against the West Indies, with the same two players involved. Campbell turned Hick straight to midwicket and called foolishly for a run; Goodwin (3), trusting him, tore down the pitch and was left stranded as Campbell changed his mind and Flintoff threw the ball easily to the bowler. Zimbabwe were 90 for four in the 23rd over.

The hundred came up in the 27th over, and the required run rate was now about seven per over. At 110, though, the batsmen risked a second run to Ealham after a stroke by Campbell to midwicket, and Grant Flower (9) was brilliantly run out at the bowler's end by a direct hit. Zimbabwe were fortunate to have Andy Flower coming in at number seven, but it would take a miracle partnership, perhaps even more so than that which won the match against West Indies on Sunday, to see them home this time.