July 20, 2000

West Indies fight-back

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff is out to Reon King; wickets with successive balls
Photo © AllSport

Match in balance

A superb West Indian fightback has brought to life this final group match of the NatWest Series at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. After fine English bowling and fielding had reduced the tourists to 195 for nine in their allotted 50 overs, England enjoyed a confident opening partnership of 46.

Then three quick wickets to Reon King, helped by a fine run-out, brought about a collapse. After 30 overs, Alec Stewart was still there with 30, and most of England's hopes of victory rest on him. The match is in the balance.

NatWest Series

Fortune favours the batsmen

King's first delivery of the England innings was overpitched and outside off stump, and Trescothick drove it square for four with a maximum of timing and minimum of effort; later in the over another boundary followed through extra cover. Stewart, on 1, was almost brilliantly caught down the leg side by Jacobs off King but, as the camera revealed, the ball touched the ground first.

He demonstrated his greater share of luck than Campbell or Sarwan when he came within an inch or two of playing on to Dillon, but the ball just missed the stumps. With his score on 11 a bottom-edged slash rocketed past his stumps for four, another sign perhaps that this was surely England's day.

Apart from this, both batsmen looked very comfortable against a West Indian attack that worked hard but was not quite quick or accurate enough to threaten. The opening stand realized 46 before Trescothick (23) attempted another off-drive, got a fine edge and walked straight away for a catch to the keeper. Flintoff scored 2 before slashing at King in his next over and similarly edging a catch to the keeper; England 49 for two. Then Hick came and went first ball, chopping King on to his stumps, and England were in a spot of bother.

Contest reaches critical stage

For West Indies, this was the critical stage of the match, perhaps their only chance to make the crucial breakthrough and challenge for victory. They took their next opportunity, a superb throw by Rose from deep midwicket running out Thorpe (5) at the bowler's end, as he fatally hesitated before attempting a second run. England were now 56 for four and the match was indeed in the balance.

Hussain dug in with Stewart but scored only 3 before being given out caught at the wicket off spinner Nagamootoo; the replay, however, appeared to indicate that the ball had come off the pad and the batsman was visibly unimpressed. At 75 for five, the West Indies were now definitely on top and much depended on whether Stewart could continue his run of skill and fortune.

Before he had scored, White was given not out off a very confident West Indian appeal for a catch at the wicket off Nagamootoo; this time the replay this time suggested he may have hit it. Stewart, unconcerned, reached his fifty by turning Nagamootoo between mid-on and midwicket for four. The hundred came up in the 30th over.