Cricket log - April 2004
England vs West Indies, 3rd Test, Bridgetown, Barbados, 1-5 April 2004
England approached this Test match with their confidence high, looking to secure their first Test series win in the West Indies for 36 long and painful years. Michael Vaughan managed to win a toss for the first time in a while and decided to put the West Indies in to bat, sensibly hoping to pray on the hosts’ frayed batting nerves. It turned out to be the same old story, with West Indies progressing reasonably safely to 167-3, before capitulating to 224 all out, having lost their last seven wickets for 57 runs.
The story of the day, however, was Mr Andrew Flintoff. Having seen, in his 32 Test matches to date, numerous catches dropped of his own bowling (which he always took with admirably good grace), earning him the title of England’s unluckiest bowler, it all finally went right on the first day in Barbados. His return was 5-58, including the wicket of Lara for 36 and two wickets in two balls to finish the innings off, which were easily his best figures in any meaningful form of cricket (i.e. his first five-for). Primarily used as a containing bowler, he was penetrative here, his back-of-a-length bowling proving useful on the Barbados pitch.
A chance, then, for England to secure a substantial first innings lead, but they fluffed their lines somewhat, staggering to 119-6, with the pacy Fidel Edwards, freshly returned from the injury that kept him out of the second Test, doing most of the damage. It looked like England would concede a vital first innings lead, but that didn’t take into account the doggedness of the left-handed middle order maestro, Graham Thorpe. With the help of a stubborn tail, Thorpe eked out a valuable century, his 13th for England, and, more importantly, eroded any potential deficit, as England reached 226 all out, two runs ahead, a lead that had looked unlikely earlier.
Thorpe finished unbeaten on 119 and Edwards finished with 4-70. As in previous matches, this game was still very much in the balance. Matthew Hoggard, having taken a back seat while first Harmison then Jones and finally Flintoff took centre stage, had other ideas. The West Indies were on 45-2 when Hoggard ripped out the West Indies’ heart, dismissing Sarwan, Chanderpaul and Hinds in succession, to claim a stunning hat-trick, the tenth by an English bowler in a Test.
The West Indies never recovered, eventually reaching 94 all out, with Hoggard finishing with 4-35. This left England needing a mere 93 runs to win the match and with it the Test series. Vaughan and Trescothick finally got some runs, making a half-century opening stand for the first time in a long time, before Butcher and Hussain guided England home, taking 20 overs in all. The man of the match decision was easy enough to make – Graham Thorpe’s first innings century undeniably the pivotal performance of the match. And so this England team succeeded where so many other England teams have failed, clinching the Test series by taking an unassailable lead.
England won by 8 wickets (scorecard)
England vs West Indies, 4th Test, St John’s, Antigua, 10-14 April 2004
England made two changes for the final Test match of the series, one enforced, one tactical. Ashley Giles, having not had the best of series (there being little need for spin with the seamers doing so well), was ill and replaced by right-arm spinner Gareth Batty, and Geraint Jones was brought in for Chris Read who, although he had kept behind the wicket impeccably, had not scored the weight of runs required to keep his place. The selectors have stated their intention to give Jones, currently the keeper at Kent, a decent run in the side. Harsh, but reasonably fair.
West Indies again won the toss and, for the fourth time in four, bat first on a placid pitch. So placid, in fact, that the England bowlers have their work cut out and they made little headway into the West Indies’ batting line-up. Top of the tree in terms of run-scoring was Lara, whose monumental levels of concentration enabled him to pick off the England attack almost at will, for hours on end. West Indies, and Lara, just kept on batting – England even resort to letting Trescothick turn his arm over for 18 overs.
Starting day 3 on 313 not out, with the West Indies on 595-5, Lara had his sights set firmly on regaining the all-time top score in Test matches, Hayden’s 380 against Zimbabwe having eclipsed Lara’s previous record of 375. He became a little nervy as the landmark approached, but surged past the target with a six and a four off Batty. Lara then looked towards the 400-mark, which he reached in a strangely measured fashion, before immediately declaring, on 751-5, leaving himself on 400 not out, the new Test record which, presumably, Hayden will now be gunning for.
It also increased Lara’s series run total five-fold and was the highest team total ever conceded by England – they had the daunting task of having to score 552 runs just to avoid the follow-on. Their pace attack, so effective in the previous three Test matches, was rendered toothless by the nature of the pitch, and the lack of a world-class spin bowler. Spare a thought, too, for Thorpe, who was present on the Antigua field for Lara’s previous world record knock.
England started their response badly, with Vaughan and Trescothick falling cheaply once more and, of the top order, only Butcher put up any resistance, reaching his 20th Test 50 before getting bowled by Pedro Collins. England got into deep trouble as a result of the misfiring top order, reaching 98-5, still an amazing 653 runs behind. A partnership of 84 between Flintoff and Jones steadied things but when Jones went for 38, the score was 182-6.
Flintoff, though, has shown a new maturity in recent months, a consequence possibly of becoming one of the more senior members of the one-day squad, if not quite the Test squad yet. This innings was his most circumspect yet, and also his longest in terms of balls faced, as he reined in his usual expansive array of shots. The rest of the tail added a further 102 runs to leave England on 285 runs, a first innings shortfall of 436 runs. Flintoff finished on 102, his third Test century, and easily his most sedate. It was also the first time he had remained not out in 50 Test innings.
Lara had no hesitation in asking England to bat again, but the West Indies’ pace attack was tiring, and the pitch was still flat and offering little to the bowlers. England had simply wilted in the first innings under the pressure of facing such a huge total. Their second innings got off to a much better start, though, as Trescothick and Vaughan finally got some runs, making a 182-run opening partnership. There was little of the trouble experienced in the first innings as three of the top order passed 50, with Vaughan registering his 11th Test century (maintaining his impressive fifty to a hundred conversion rate).
At 345-2 at tea on the final day, it was clear that the wind had been taken out of the West Indies’ sails, and the match seemed destined for a draw. But three wickets fell in 17 overs, with Butcher, Hussain and Flintoff giving their wickets away carelessly (Flintoff, in particular, mistiming a hit-me full toss by Sarwan to midwicket). It gave the West Indies the slimmest chance of victory, but it proved to be too much for them to take the remaining five wickets in the allotted time, and Lara agreed a draw by shaking Graham Thorpe’s hand several overs early, leaving England with a comprehensive 3-0 series victory.
Unsurprisingly, Brian Lara was awarded the man of the match award for his momentous innings, but Harmison got the man of the series award, having taken 23 wickets at an average of 14.86, and playing a key part in the first two victories. The remaining members of England’s pace quartet, Hoggard, Jones and Flintoff, took an impressive 35 wickets between them. Thorpe finished top of the batting averages with 274 at an average of just over 91. Flintoff was good value too, scoring 200 runs at 50 and taking 11 wickets at 27. A superb win for England overall, which enabled them to go onto the one-day series with confidence, despite the obligatory team reshuffle.
Match drawn (scorecard) - England won series 3-0
Lancashire vs Yorkshire, one-day friendly, Old Trafford, 14 April 2004
Having won all of their warm-up matches in South Africa, Lancashire thrashed Yorkshire in a friendly one-day match, scoring 297-5 (Sutcliffe 152) vs 178 all out (Keedy 3-42). Always nice to do one over the old enemy, and it’s especially relevant as it is one of the few times that a Roses match will take place this summer, the only other definite meeting being in the Twenty20 competition (there’s a slight possibility of meeting the C&G cup).
Lancashire won by 119 runs (scorecard)
Lancshire vs Northamptonshire, County Championship, Northampton, 16-19 April 2004
Win the toss and bat is the golden rule with Lancashire’s daunting batting line-up, even at the start of the season, when the skies are cloudy and the ground damp. The pitch, however, was placid, although the unimpressive Alec Swann (he averaged just over 20 last season) got a third ball duck. It later turned out that Mal Loye had a injury otherwise he would have got the nod (having had a cracking debut season debut in 2003, averaging just over 50). Another surprising decision is to play Kyle Hogg (who has done OK for England Under-19s but no better) ahead of Sajid Mahmood (who was one of the only players to impress Rod Marsh playing for England A vs India in the winter). Spaceman later learns that Sajid was rested after hi winter excursions.
Anyway, Lancashire started as they carried on last season (during which an amazing 28 centuries were struck, with 4 in an innings twice), racking up an impressive 504-9 declared (with tons for Sutcliffe, slowly, Law and Hooper, quickly, and a fifty for Chapple). Northants’ batting proved, initially anyway, equally determined, as they reached 142-2 at the end of day two. The story of Lancashire’s 2003 season continued, however, as day three was a complete washout (spaceman read that Lancashire lost 1,200 overs to rain last season – it cost them the championship).
A draw seemed on the cards then, especially when Northants cruised to 247-4 on the final day, before an inspired spell of bowling from Keedy and Hooper saw them the home team collapse to 298 all out. A sniff of victory then, but taking 10 wickets in 50-odd overs proved too much, and a draw was agreed with Northants on 113-1 after 47. Maximum bonus points (12 points in all), though, and good news from the Oval, as a combination of rain and typically gritty lower order batting saw Surrey scrape a draw against last season’s champions, and Lancashire’s chief rivals in 2004, Sussex. A contrived run chase against Gloucestershire saw Kent skip to the top of the table with 16 points, with the majority of the matches drawn.
Match drawn (scorecard) - Lancashire 12 points, Northamptonshire 8
England vs West Indies, 1st ODI, Georgetown, Guyana, 18 April 2004
Rain struck the first one-day international in a series of seven between England and the West Indies, but the Guyana groundstaff do a good job of drying out the huge puddle with the help of a helicopter, and the match went ahead, but late and reduced to 30 overs each. This would be the last chance that England will get to play one-day matches in the Caribbean before the 2007 World Cup and, as such, represented a chance to gain some crucial experience for their more inexperienced players. The aforementioned reshuffle duly occurred. Out went the batting stalwarts Butcher, Hussain, Thorpe, to be replaced by Strauss, Collingwood and Blackwell. Out went Jones and Hoggard, with Kirtley and Clarke coming in, and Read was retained as England’s one-day wicket-keeper.
West Indies started sluggishly, creeping to 25-3 after 10 overs, the tenth being a Flintoff double-wicket maiden. Flintoff was ranked in the top 10 ODI bowlers at the start of this series and is a useful player to come on at second change. Chanderpaul in particular was struggling to score runs quickly, but this all changed as he moved from 10 off 52 balls to 84 off 96 balls before being dismissed by Gough, the catalyst of this acceleration seemingly a four and a six off successive Harmison deliveries. The hosts eventually posted a moderately challenging total of 156 off their 30 overs on what turned out to be a fairly difficult pitch for batting.
But England’s response never took shape, lurching from 60-1 after 14 overs to 120-7 after 25.2 overs, as new-boy Strauss top-scored with 29. The equation came down to 34 runs required off 4 overs with 3 overs remaining – not a situation in which England typically thrive. A six by Read off Collymore gave things a slightly better complexion, but 21 runs were still needed off the final two overs.
But it was in the penultimate over when the whole shape of the game changed, as Read suddenly exploded into life, hitting Collymore for six then four then six in successive balls, until only three runs were needed off the last over. Read unfortunately couldn’t see it out, and was carelessly bowled by the first ball of the final over for 27 (off only 15 balls), but a leg-bye and a slice over cover from Gough for two sealed a dramatic victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. So the West Indies suffered another defeat, England taking an early 1-0 lead in the series with six to play.
England won by 2 wickets (scorecard)
Lancashire vs Sussex, County Championship, Hove, 21-24 April 2004
An early clash of the two championship favourites (worryingly, Lancashire have had the edge for the early season pundit’s choice) at Hove. Sussex, ominously, won the toss and chose to bat, making their way to 71-1, before losing a steady stream of wickets, to be all out for 195 (apparently the first time Sussex have failed to gain a batting point since July 2002). The wickets were shared evenly between the four seamers, with Mahmood (3-41) having the best figures. A special mention too for Cork, who, with 3-61, collected his first wickets of the season, and also held three catches in the slips too. Losing Chilton early, Lancashire got to 51-1 at tea, before a subsequent downpour curtailed play for the day.
On day 2, Lancashire worked themselves into a very strong position at 286-4. The top order (with the exception of Chilton) got starts but got out – apart from the Aussie (soon to be assimilated English) run machine, Stuart Law. Having hit a century in the first match of the 2004 season, Law continued his phenomenal run of scoring, remaining seemingly unperturbed when losing a succession of partners at the other end, as Lancashire stuttered from 286-4 to 335 all out. He remained undefeated at the end on 171, putting his average for the season at a modest 279. So Lancashire had a first innings lead of 140, and 8 bonus points in the bag, but it could have been so much better, especially when Sussex got to 51 at the end of the day without losing a wicket. The current champions had had a good passage of play and given themselves a fighting chance of a win.
The next day, Ward fell to Martin, but otherwise Sussex moved to 90-1, showing the potential to set Lancashire a tricky second innings target. Then, Mahmood, impressive in this match, struck twice to remove Montgomerie and Adams (first ball) in successive overs, which precipitated a collapse similar to the first innings, as they went from 90-1 to 96-5 in 10 balls. Cork, who had a big hand in dismissing Sussex first time round, but having got a first-ball duck in Lancashire’s innings, showed why Lancashire had no hesitation in signing him in the close season by dismissing Martin-Jenkins, before coming back to take four further wickets, finishing with his first five-for in Lancashire colours. Sussex were bowled out for 163 and Lancashire had only 24 runs to score to win the match, which they duly did without loss, securing a crushing 10 wicket victory to go with the innings victory they got at Old Trafford when they last played Sussex.
Impressive stuff, with Lancashire’s battery of four seamers proving too much for the opposition, although the fact that Keedy only bowled three overs in the match contributed to the fact that Lancashire’s over rate was slow, so much so that the 20 points for victory became 18, with 2 points deducted. It still put Lancashire temporarily clear at the top of the league, although there were matches still taking place, and the early signs are good for Lancashire fans. It will be interesting to see how Anderson fits in to the team once the England one-day series has finished, especially on pitches that take a bit of turn (i.e. pitches that Keedy will play on – he adds balance to the side, anyway). Spaceman is not counting on seeing Flintoff play for Lancashire this season (if at all), as England have a full and complete schedule, with tours by New Zealand and West Indies, and then the ICC Champions Trophy in September.
Successful and impressive run chases for Kent and Middlesex against Worcestershire and Surrey respectively put Kent 35 points clear at the top, with Middlesex on 32 and Lancashire on 30 points, leaving Lancashire's two main rivals, Surrey and Sussex, a further 12 and 15 points back respectively.
Lancashire won by 10 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 18, Sussex 3
England vs West Indies, 2nd ODI, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 24 April 2004
Not much action to report from Trinidad as the one-day match is rained off after 17 overs have been bowled, with the West Indies finishing on 57-2, an innings notable only for an impressive spell form Harmison (1-16 off 7 overs) and a return to the international fray from Burnley-born James Anderson, who picked up the wicket of Chris Gayle with a ball that was short, wide outside the off stump and slapped to the dependable and alert Collingwood at point. So the series score remains at 1-0 to England.
No result (scorecard)
Lancashire vs Northamptonshire, National League, Northampton, 25 April 2004
Lancashire looked to start their one-day campaign well, having been promoted as champions of the National League Division Two the previous year. They had remained in this division since getting relegated in 2000, far cry from being one of the dominant one-day sides of the late 1990s – indeed they won the one-day league in 1998 and 1999. Lancashire brought in Hogg and Swann for Martin and Keedy, won the toss and put Northants in, who were soon struggling. Chapple, Cork and Mahmood each took two wickets to reduce the hosts to 71-6, but a battling 50 not out from the South African born wicket-keeper Gerard Brophy dragged the score to relative respectability at 161-9 off the full allocation of 45 overs. Medium-pacer Chilton picked up 3 wickets towards the end of the innings.
Lancashire started at pace, with Loye particularly scoring quickly against his former club. Loye was first out with the score at 93, having made a rapid 70 of 53 balls, including 14 fours. With Law and Hooper in next, it was expected that Lancashire would make light work of the remaining 69 runs needed to win the match, but they stuttered somewhat, eventually losing four wickets before Chilton and Chapple stabilising things and knocked off the winning runs. One of those wickets to fall was Alec Swann, bowled by his brother Graeme for a second-ball duck, to go with his third-ball duck in the championship – not a good start. It was Graeme Swann who caused the mild panic, taking 3-16 off 8 overs, but it wasn’t enough to stop Lancashire winning by five wickets.
Lancashire won by 5 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 4, Northamptonshire 0
England vs West Indies, 3rd ODI, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 25 April 2004
This match was abandoned without even a ball being bowled. It looks like the rainy season has come early in Trinidad.
Match abandoned without a ball bowled
England vs West Indies, 4th ODI, St George’s, Grenada, 28 April 2004
This was another complete wash-out and it’s still 1-0 in the series to England. The cricketing authorities are beginning to panic about the next World Cup, which is due to be held in the Caribbean in March 2007.
Match abandoned without a ball bowled