ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
England v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Chennai
Unknowns announce arrival on grand stage
James Tredwell, Devendra Bishoo and Andre Russell are names that might puzzle even committed cricket fans, though they turned out to be among the players who set up a memorably tense match
Siddarth Ravindran at the Chidambaram Stadium
March 17, 2011
In a sink-or-swim match between two Test teams in cricket's biggest tournament, you'd expect the seasoned players and the marquee names to be imposing themselves on such a grand stage. But at the MA Chidambaram Stadium it was the no-namers who made the biggest impact as England continued their Hitchcockian progress through the World Cup with yet another nerve-shredder against West Indies.
James Tredwell, Devendra Bishoo and Andre Russell are names that might puzzle even committed cricket fans, though they turned out to be among the players who set up a memorably tense match. The surprises started even before the action did, when XIs were announced and both sides made big calls - England dropped their only experienced fast bowler James Anderson and their leading one-day run-scorer Paul Collingwood while West Indies dropped their most experienced batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Once England chose to bat, it was assumed the red-hot pace of Kemar Roach and the spin of Sulieman Benn would be the big threats. Instead, it was Russell, a 22-year-old with only about a dozen List A matches for his home side Jamaica under his belt, who removed the England openers, following it up with exuberant Brett Lee-style celebrations. It wasn't frighteningly quick bowling from Russell, and he frequently pitched it too short, though he got several deliveries to hold their line, which was enough to get through the batsmen's defences three times and leave the stumps on the ground.
Taking the baton from Russell was the legspinner Bishoo. The purveyor of a difficult art, his task was even tougher as it was his first game in international cricket, his first game in the subcontinent, in front of a 10,000-strong crowd, and he was up against Jonathan Trott in full flow and Ian Bell. He kept his cool, and his line and lengths, and the absence of bad balls meant he didn't cede a boundary till the ninth over.
His control prompted the normally circumspect Trott to play against the turn, giving a catch to midwicket three short of his fifth half-century of the tournament. The prized wicket of Eoin Morgan followed, and Bishoo ended up with 3 for 34, the joint-best figures for a debutant West Indian spinner.
Bishoo and Russell had left England pondering an early flight home, before the fightback was spearheaded by another unlikely source. Luke Wright's batting average of 22 and bowling average of 56 has been a source of mirth for England fans, though he earned a measure of respect with an enterprising 44 that kept his team in the high-stakes contest. Half-an-hour of mayhem from Chris Gayle though left them scouring the travel websites again.
England are among the most analysed team in cricket, with a large press pack looking into the team's every move. It's unlikely, though, that any of them could have foretold that the team's World Cup hopes would be kept alive by the unspectacular bowling of Tredwell and the dibbly-dobblies of Ravi Bopara.
Faced with a rampaging Gayle in the Powerplay, with the knowledge that he had a total of zero wickets in his one-day career, and with nearly two months of turning up for England training sessions with getting a game, Tredwell was given the ball in the seventh over. A slog sweep for four made one fear the worst, but he remained unflappable, nipping out three wickets in four overs, including the big ones of Gayle and Darren Bravo, that re-infused belief in the England fans scattered around the stadium.
It was Bopara's turn then to take the centrestage, after the specialist quicks were hammered for more than ten an over. Ten wickets in 57 matches is hardly the stuff of champions, though Bopara's medium-pace kept England in the game by ending Darren Sammy's hard-hitting cameo. He even bowled a maiden to Kieron Pollard in a smartly delayed bowling Powerplay.
When Pollard perished after mowing a six into the drinks trolley and then powering one to the top of the sightscreen, West Indies looked to the experience of Ramnaresh Sarwan to pull them through. Yet again, though, it was a little-known who spiced up the contest, with Russell showing signs of adding to West Indies' burgeoning pack of medium-pace allrounders. He utterly dominated a 72-run stand with Sarwan, pulling off some flamboyant sixes and remaining unperturbed in the unnervingly tight finale.
Russell had taken West Indies to within 22 of victory before the journeyman Tredwell returned to end his stay, and his Man-of-the-Match chances, as West Indies lost their remaining three wickets for three runs in a spine-tingling finish.
Strauss acknowledged the difficulty of coming in from the cold for a big match. "It's so tough when you are sitting there on the outside, looking on all the time," he said. "Doing the net practice, waiting for your turn, and a lot time thinking your turn wouldn't come."
Both teams gambled by going with fringe players instead of established ones, and it paid off as the understudies played starring roles in a cracker that extended the suspense in Group B to the final league match.
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