Gayle scorches inept England
West Indies 117 for 2 (Gayle 80) beat England 117 (Bravo 4-19, Edwards 3-28) by eight wickets - D/L method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Chris Gayle put West Indies' off-field worries to one side and instead heaped ever more crippling levels of opprobrium onto the shoulders of England's listless cricketers, as he pounded an astounding tally of five fours and eight sixes in 43 balls, to power his side to a brilliant eight-wicket victory in the third ODI at Bridgetown. Talk of impending strikes have been circulating the Caribbean in recent days, but today it was England who failed to turn up for duty, as they crumbled for 117 before being bludgeoned to defeat in just 14.4 overs.
Nominally, the game was reduced to 44 overs a side because of a rain-delayed start, but that was entirely academic as the entire contest was done and dusted in 56.1. After winning the toss on a sticky track West Indies bowled superbly, with Dwayne Bravo and Fidel Edwards outstanding, and caught everything that flew their way as well, before Gayle, in a repeat of the blitzkrieg that roasted England in November's Stanford million-dollar match, sent a packed crowd wild with a boundary-laden 80. By the time he was bowled by James Anderson with 19 runs still required, his opening partner, Lendl Simmons, had not reached double figures.
It is a measure of England's ineptitude in this contest that their humiliation could easily have been worse. On a wicket spiced up by heavy showers, England started cautiously, then collapsed in a frenzy of ill-judged shots, and had it not been for a five-minute rain delay at 71 for 8 in the 27th over, they could easily have been rolled over for their lowest ODI total in history. Instead, Dimitri Mascarenhas scraped them to three figures with a determined 36, aided by Gareth Batty who defied a career ODI average of 2.60 to post 17 from 47 balls, all but two of which came in singles.
In total, England managed nine boundaries in their pitiful innings, none of which cleared the rope. They were given their customary hurry-up by Edwards, whose three wickets all came from muffed hook shots, while Bravo produced a typically inventive performance to star with 4 for 19. Lionel Baker, who shared the new ball with Edwards, bowled his nine overs straight off the reel for 21 runs, keeping the innings in check with five maidens before capping his spell with the wicket of Owais Shah.
England's captain, Andrew Strauss, was the first to fall. Having used up 17 deliveries for his two runs, he felt obliged to step up the tempo but picked the wrong delivery to climb into. A bouncer from Edwards got big on him, Gayle at slip ran 15 yards behind him to pocket a steepling top-edge, and before the over was out, Strauss's partner Ravi Bopara was on his way back as well, again courtesy of a miscued hook that plopped into Ramnaresh Sarwan's hands at mid-on.
The unhappy Kevin Pietersen, bored of the tour and in no mood to rebuild, made it a hat-trick of hook victims when he swiped at Bravo's first delivery and picked out Kieron Pollard on the deep midwicket boundary, and eight balls later Shah - who had scored three of England's four boundaries to date - flapped loosely at a wide ball from Baker, and Sammy at backward point finished the job.
Andrew Flintoff, back in the side after a month's lay-off but with no batting form to fall back on after a pair in the Antigua Test, made it three ducks in a row in a sad six-ball stay. After diligently negotiating his first five deliveries, Flintoff swiped at a loose leg-side delivery from Bravo, but merely helped the ball straight into the hands of Edwards at fine leg.
Paul Collingwood might have been England's best hope of staging a rearguard, but he was then the victim of a poor decision as umpire Steve Bucknor upheld an appeal from Bravo even though replays suggested the ball would have missed leg. Matt Prior then slapped Pollard to point for 7, having missed out on a succession of off-side swipes, before Stuart Broad was drawn forward in the same over to feather his second delivery to the keeper.
After rallying briefly in a ninth-wicket stand of 48, the end of England's innings came quickly as Batty and Mascarenhas attempted to up the tempo as they took the batting powerplay, but ended up falling within seven balls of each other. England's efforts were soon put in stark context in a first over from Broad that went for 17, including two bouncers that eluded the keeper, Prior, and the first of Gayle's sixes, an uppercut over third man.
Thereafter it was not a contest. As Simmons worked the singles to put his skipper back on strike, England were routed. Anderson's second over went for 12 runs, Broad's third for 15, as Gayle found new and inventive ways to belt the cover off the Kookaburra. His most brutal onslaught, however, came against Mascarenhas, whose first and only over went for 24 runs, including three sixes in the arc from cover to midwicket. The only bowler he treated with any respect was Flintoff, which is pretty much the case whatever format England are playing these days.
Disappointingly for the partying Bajan crowd, Gayle was unable to complete what he had started, and England had further succour when Broad splattered Sarwan's stumps with four runs needed for victory. Only twice in ODI history have England been beaten in fewer overs, and had it not been for John Dyson's chart-reading aberration in the first ODI, the series would be over already. On this evidence, it is anyway.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo