Alan Mullally makes his markPhoto CricInfo
Zimbabwe find good for ducks
In conditions that were more akin to the ninety-minute game at that other part of Old Trafford, Zimbabwe decided to make first use of a pitch which showed a sparse scattering of grass and then decided to register their lowest score against England.
Not taking anything away from England's effort in this fine victory by eight wickets, but it is understandable, if not inevitable, that an extent of complacency does creep into a side that has achieved an immediate target, in the case of Zimbabwe, a place in the final of the NatWest Series.
Their batting was one of gay abandon, the highest being two individual scores in the twenties and four ducks - the fourth one was not out - in an innings which was in total contrast to those that Zimbabwe have produced so far in this series. But that was when it mattered so much to them, today it was of lesser consequence to them.
Admirable Alan - and the others did well too England bowlers did, nevertheless, did an admirable job. Allan Mullally, in particular was in fine form, his eight overs conceded only 13 and in the process he claimed the both the fifth and sixth wickets on the total of 65. Mark Ealham was most economical , his ten overs cost only 19 and Craig White's two for 13 deserves a mention. To add to Zimbabwe's batting problems, England's opening Batsman Marcus Trescothick turned his arm over for 1.4 overs and walked off with the last two wickets. At one stage Zimbabwe were 114 for six and 9 balls later they were all out for 114. That just about sums up their time at the crease.
Well, the weather did seem more like November
England made light work of their task. They were looking good on 57 for one when Trescothick got out and fhen came the fireworks from Andy Flintoff and Graeme Hick. Their unbroken stand of 58 came from only 48 balls in the course of which they hit five boundaries and three sixes. Paul Strang was the bowler to suffer from the sixes, the last of which, from Hick, equalled the score of 114 and then he took the winning single.
Hick's 23 came from as many balls and man-of-the-match Flintoff, unbeaten on 42 said afterwards, aiming his remark at the critical press he has had recently:" I played all right for a fat boy. I've had a bad week, the best way to sort that out is to score runs."
Remarking on his promotion up the batting order, he said:" It was good to bat at number three, I have been doing that for Lancashire, I enjoy that."
Cumbes: Day-night cricket is on song
Once again, a day-night match proved a success. The Chief Executive at Lancashire, Jim Cumbes said:" What this sort of thing, with lights and music and so on does is to let the crowd take part in the day. They wave their fours and sixes and clap to the music and chant along as well. It makes them feel that they belong to what's going on out there.
"If we are trying to get a newer and younger audience in then we must have this because this is tthe sort of thing that they are going to go for. We have seen this in ice hockey here in Manchester and we have seen it in basket-ball. To a lesser degree we have seen it at Manchester United as well, so we are following a kind of trend."
They are even talking about it inn the local
He then added: "I'll give you an example from personal experience. At my local pub, there are some people who had never been to cricket before, they came to a floodlit game last year, and when I spoke to them they said, 'we don't know much about cricket, but we really had a great night and we will certainly be back.' Now that is the kind of thing we want to hear."
Cumbes, who played first-class cricket for Worcestershire and kept goal for West Bromwich Albion and knows all about playing in the presence of a large crowd said:" Considering it wasn't a nice day, it was grey and cold, we got about eleven thousand people and that is not bad. It helped to create a great atmosphere."