Cricket log - May 2004

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England vs West Indies, 5th ODI, Beausejour Stadium, St Lucia, 1 May 2004

England started this match needing only one victory to make sure that the series would not be lost, the rain having decimated the previous three one-day matches between the two sides.  England lost the toss and were asked to bat first, and they got off to flyer, reaching 114-1 in the 17th over, before Strauss was bowled by Dillon.  The visitors then struggled for runs as Collingwood and then Flintoff scratched around for runs.  Holding it all together at the other end was Trescothick who, on his day, can be an effortlessly destructive batsman.  This was one of those days as he brought up his fifty off 44 balls and his hundred off only 96.  Flintoff soon began to find his tempo, hitting 59 before an attempt to clear the boundary for the third time was thwarted by a juggling, slightly fortuitous, catch by Merv Dillon.  Trescothick was finally run out for 138 and Read added a breezy 24, with England reaching 281-8 off their allotted overs.

 

In reply, the West Indies were held in check by England for most of the match and, when Lara departed caught behind from Harmison with 94 still needed off 12 overs, their prospects did not look good.  But Dwayne Smith is no slouch with the bat and, together with Ramneresh Sarwan, they went on a spree of six-hitting which left England in a state of shock and the West Indies on the brink of victory.  Although Flintoff, who was struggling with an injury towards the end, bowled Smith, who finished with 44 off a mere 28 balls, there was not much left to do and Sarwan (73 off 77 balls) and Bravo guided the hosts home, as Bravo won the game with another six off Gough.  This was another Trescothick century in vain and the series was levelled at 1-1 with two to play.

West Indies won by 5 wickets (scorecard)

 

Lancashire vs Kent, National League, Old Trafford, 2 May 2004

This was spaceman's first live game of the season.  Kent had both their overseas stars present and correct and had won all their games so far this season - they were expected to be tough opponents.  Spaceman was a little sluggish to start the day (it was a Sunday), arriving halfway through the Kent innings, where Lancashire had made a good start, restricting them to around 100-5 off 20 or so overs.  A strange sight greeted spaceman on exiting the tram station.  Someone, who appeared to be Kent captain David Fulton, was flat on his stomach, trying to look under a car for something.  Then, as spaceman was almost at the entrance to the ground, England rejects but Kent run-machines, Robert Key and Ed Smith, both came jogging out, with the apparent aim of helping their captain find whatever it was he was looking for.  Bizarre.

 

Beer in hand and sun in the sky (ah, this is the life), spaceman was just in time to see England prospect Sajid Mahmood, beat England wicket-keeper Geraint Jones' extravagant drive, the off stump cartwheeling backwards.  An early contender for champagne moment of the day.  When Hogg trapped Tredwell lbw, Kent were reduced to 128-7 and a low target looked on the cards.  However, spirited batting from Rob Ferley (top-scoring with 42 off 55 balls), and a couple of lusty blows from Alamgir Sheriyar (two sixes in consecutive balls damaging Hooper's figures somewhat) ensured a score of 203 all out with one over still remaining.  Lancashire didn't really show enough ruthlessness, but also suffered from having to find the fifth bowler's overs from somewhere.  Crook didn't really look up to it and Hooper proved expensive.  Pick of the bunch were Mahmood (3 for 39 off 9 overs) and Chapple (2 for 31 off 9), but the main four seamers all bowled well.

 

Lancashire got off to a solid start, with periods of reflection interspersed with sequences of boundaries, Sutcliffe using the lofted cover drive to good effect.  Loye was also in good touch, accelerating as his innings progressed, with the best shot being a pull into the members' stand for six.  He tried one too many of these, however, being caught by Smith in the deep off the bowling of Aussie Andrew Symonds (who was initially expensive but came back well).  With the score on 93-1 after 16 overs, Lancashire still looked well-placed, but Stuart Law hung his bat out and nicked Symonds behind first-ball, which shocked the Lancashire faithful somewhat.

 

Lancashire were still favourites but where they needed a couple of steady partnerships, the batsmen instead insisted on giving their wickets away at regular intervals, having a knack of lobbing the ball straight to the fielders' hands, with Chapple chipping to mid off and Chilton repeating Loye's error.  At 142-6, Lancashire had lost 6 wickets for 49 runs and were in a bit of trouble, but were still round about the required run-rate.  But there were two new batsmen in, old-timer Cork and new boy Hogg, and they needed time to play themselves in and consolidate, time that Lancashire did not have.  They began to pick up the pace with some eager running and with Cork's experience it was felt that Lancashire still had a chance.  But when Cork fell to Saggers with the score on 177, 27 runs were still needed.

 

The equation then came down to 20 runs needed off the last three overs, with Pakistani fast bowler Mohammed Sami to bowl two of them.  Having got 6-20 in the previous one day match against Gloucestershire, it was difficult to see how Lancashire would survive.  Hegg pinched a single off the first ball of the over, then 20-year old left-hander Kyle Hogg came into his own, glancing (i.e. edging) Sami fine for four runs, before pulling him over wide mid on for four more, definitely the champagne moment of the day.  With three further singles added, suddenly 12 runs had come off the over and only 8 more were needed off the last two.  This was well within their capabilities, and Hegg finally did the honours, hitting Sami for a boundary with the fielders close in and only one run needed for victory, with four balls to spare.  Hegg did a jig of delight before hugging Hogg, who finished on 37 off only 35 balls, a match-winning innings, and Lancashire maintained their winning start to the season, but only just.

Lancashire won by 3 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 4 points, Kent 0

 

England vs West Indies, 6th ODI, Beausejour Stadium, St Lucia, 2 May 2004

England brought in Gareth Batty for Ian Blackwell for this match, in an attempt to strengthen the bowling which took such a battering in the previous match.  West Indies won the toss and put England in.  Again, the visitors got off to solid start, with the top five batsmen getting going without getting a big score, though Vaughan and Strauss got 67 (the Middlesex player's highest ODI score).  The innings fell away when Flintoff got out at the end of the 45th over, and they added only a further 29 to finish on 280-8, one less than the score they managed the previous day.

 

West Indies got off to a flyer, reaching 100 in 14.1 overs, with Chanderpaul blasting 63 off just 55 balls.  However, Powell and Chanderpaul fell to Batty and Clarke in quick succession, after a double change in the bowling by Vaughan, giving England hope.  Unfortunately, it meant that Lara was at the crease, and he duly delivered, knocking a composed 57 off 68 balls, and there was too much for the England bowlers to do.  West Indies comfortably passed the winning target with 17 balls to spare to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

West Indies won by 4 wickets (scorecard)

 

Lancashire vs Staffordshire, C&G Trophy 2nd round, Stone, 5 May 2004

The traditional tricky away tie in the C&G Trophy second round, always an almost no-win situation for the major counties.  Lancashire put out a full strength side to avoid the prospect of an embarrassing defeat.  Staffordshire's line-up, however, contained several players of experience at a higher level, including Kim Barnett, former stalwart of Derbyshire and latterly Gloucestershie, Indian ODI international Dinesh Mongia, Imran Tahir, who played for Middlesex last season, and a couple of other former county players.  Staffordshire won the toss and put Lancashire in, and were soon on the end of an onslaught from Loye and Sutcliffe.  A stoppage for rain resulted in an apparent lack of concentration for the openers, as they both fell within a few overs of each other, both short of their fifties.  Sajid Mahmood was pushed up to number three as a pinch-hitter, and did quite well, hitting 29 off 36 balls, including a six.

 

Lancashire's innings never really got going again, but still went along at a reasonable rate, before Tahir whipped out Chapple and Chilton, before the innings subsided with 3 overs left, Lancashire finishing on 232 all out, not a great score given the start they got.  Tahir finished on 3-31 and Mongia got 2-42.  Lancashire's experienced seamers, Peter Martin and Glenn Chapple restricted Staffordshire's scoring well, with Barnett edging Martin to Sutcliffe (who eventually ended up with four catches) with 11 off 39 balls.  Mongia hit a breezy 31 and Follett added the same, but Staffordshire were well behind the asking rate.  At one point, the hosts required 127 off the last 13 overs and the game was effectively over, but Goodwin (31 off 32 balls) and Tahir (41 off 18 balls, including five sixes), made the game close.  Staffordshire still fell short by 20 runs and Lancashire progressed to the third round.

Lancashire won by 20 runs (scorecard)

 

England vs West Indies, 7th ODI, Bridgetown, Barbados, 5 May 2004

England approached this last match 2-1 down in the series, having blown a 1-0 lead, and they stuck with the same team as the previous match.  The visitors won the toss and put the West Indies in, who made a sluggish start in the face of some tight English bowling.  In contrast to their explosive batting earlier in the series, the West Indies struggled to 57-3 by the middle of the 15th over, having lost two wickets in quick succession.  Lara came and went cheaply, but Sarwan took on the responsibility of building a big innings, and quicker runs were scored in two 60-odd partnerships, firstly with Dwayne Smith and, once Bravo had been bowled by Flintoff, Ridley Jacobs.  Sarwan finished on 104 off only 105 balls, his 2nd ODI century, as West Indies made 261-6 off their full quota of overs, with all five seamers claiming a wicket apiece.

 

In reply, England lost Vaughan reasonably cheaply, but Trescothick blitzed his way a rapid fifty and, with Strauss, added a quickfire 87.  When Trescothick was second out, England had 123 off 17.1 overs and the opener had scored 82 off just 57 balls, the match was all but run, with the required run rate comfortably manageable.  Although Clarke and Flintoff went cheaply, Strauss went on to 66 before being bowled by Bradshaw.  There was a slight chance for the West Indies still, but Collingwood and Read guided England home with an unbroken 44 partnership, levelling the series 2-2.  England's long winter tour was over and there was only a short break before the first Test match against New Zealand at Lords in a day over a fortnight away.

England won by 5 wickets (scorecard) - series drawn 2-2

 

Lancashire vs Middlesex, County Championship, Lordís, 7-10 May 2004

Lancashire approach this match third in the Championship, two points behind Middlesex and five points behind Kent, the current leaders.  Lancashire chose to bat but were soon in a bit of trouble, with Chilton and Sutcliffe falling cheaply.  Loye and Law steadied things, however, putting on 78, before two balls that severely dented Lancashire's chances in the game, as the left-armer Hutchison, formerly of Yorkshire, trapped Law and Hooper leg before in successive balls, and Lancashire were suddenly 104-4.  Loye again steadied the ship, this time with Chapple, adding 89 before a disastrous collapse, as Lancashire lost 4 wickets for 1 run.  First Chapple was bowled by Keegan for 32, before the same bowler removed Mal Loye, who had made 101, and Cork for a duck, prolonging a miserable season for the former Derbyshire player with the bat.

 

Hayward, the South African paceman, then bowled Kyle Hogg for 1, to leave the visitors on 194-8. which certainly wasn't in the game plan when choosing to bat.  Shortly after, Keegan got Mahmood lbw with the score only on 203 to claim his fifth wicket of the innings (he eventually finished with 5-36), before Klusener, the other registered overseas player and South African in the Middlesex team had Hegg caught in the slips for 36 to leave Lancashire a disappointing 236 all out.  Having had the better of the games against Northants and Sussex, this was a little surprising.  Cork struck back immediately, trapping both openers in front with the score on 10.  But Shah and Joyce survived without further loss to the close of play, reaching 78-2.

 

Chapple bowled Owais Shah with the score unchanged the next morning, before accounting for Ed Joyce, caught behind.  However, a fifth wicket partnership of 133 between Andrew Strauss, who had arrived back from the Caribbean on the first morning, and Paul Weekes, which took the score from 119 to 252 and past Lancashire's score.  Middlesex finished the second day on 257-5, 21 runs ahead.  Cork and Chapple had been the only wicket takers on the first day, with three and two respectively, and Warren Hegg persevered with them on the third day and Chapple was rewarded with the wicket, caught behind only five runs short of what would have been an impressive century.  Then Cork, bowling in a long spell from the other end, removed the tail to finish with impressive match figures of 7-130, bowling nearly a third of all the overs bowled.

 

Middlesex finished on 338 all out, a lead of 102 runs, but Lancashire did better second time round.  The first three partnerships put on a total of 293, with Chilton claim another low century (103), and Loye and Law (predictably back in the runs) with fifties.  But the pace of the scoring told a bigger story - that Lancashire were happy to escape with a draw rather than forcing the pace for a win.  When Lancashire finally declared on 401-7, there was little time left, time only for Middlesex to creep to 41-0.  Lancashire came away with a draw were the inferior side for much of the game, and Middlesex came away with two extra batting points.  With Kent getting a low scoring draw elsewhere, Middlesex moved top of the table on 42 points, with Kent second on 40 and Lancashire third on 38, still well-positioned.

Match drawn (scorecard) - Lancashire 8, Middlesex 10

 

Lancashire vs Worcestershire, County Championship, Old Trafford, 12-15 May 2004

Warren Hegg again won the toss for Lancashire and again decided to bat first.  But it was a decision that immediately backfired as, under cloudy skies, the ball swung around and the batsmen struggled all day.  Sutcliffe fell early on and, for the second match in succession, Law and Hooper fell in quick succession, as the master overseas batsmen mustered 9 runs between them, this time Mason being the bowler to get them.  Worcestershire's five bowlers used shared the wickets evenly as Lancashire's cause was not helped by a back injury to the in-form Mal Loye.  He eventually returned to get some runs out of the tail, as Lancashire recovered slightly from 119-8 to 187 all out, with Loye finishing on an impressive, if painful, 59 not out.  Again Lancashire had failed to muster full batting points, which was a regularity last season.

 

Lancashire had gone with a full strength team, with Jimmy Anderson, given practise in advance of a possible Test recall, picked ahead of Mahmood.  And it didn't take Jimmy long to make an impact, bowling both Moore and Hick (for 3), to leave Worcestershire struggling on 36-2.  Peters and captain Ben Smith stabilised things with a stand of 40, but two crucial wickets just before the close of play by Keedy, who snared them both in quick succession, left the visitors deep in trouble at 77-4.  A devastating spell by Anderson on the second morning, with four wickets in six overs, left Worcestershire reeling on 102-8.  Anderson was clearly relishing getting out in the middle, having sat out the whole of England's winter Test series in the West Indies.

 

Gary Keedy made sure that there was no recovery, nipping out the last two to finish with 4-20, but Anderson was the star of the show with 6-49 on his first match for Lancashire in the 2004 season.  Worcestershire were finally out for 146 all out, leaving Lancashire with a precarious but unexpected lead of 41 runs.  Lancashire were soon back in trouble, however, as Chilton and Law were removed in quick succession (a rare double failure by Law, the same bowler/fielder combination of Mason and Ali working in both innings) to leave them on 32-2.  Hooper came out to join Sutcliffe, having scored only one in the first innings, with the lead on 73.  A crucial partnership then followed, as the pair put on 168 for the second wicket, a massive figure in the context of the match.  Hooper hung around just long enough to get to 100, before being caught behind off Bichel, but the damage had already been done, and Lancashire finished on 200-3 at the end of the second day.

 

Lancashire lost nightwatchman Keedy and Sutcliffe, five runs short of  a deserved century, as spaceman joined the crowd with the score on 225-5.  It was ominous for Worcestshire as the bowlers were still causing problems.  Chapple hit a breezy 38 off 45 balls and Loye scratched around for 20, looking distinctly uncomfortable with the back strain obtained in the first innings and with Chilton as the runner.  Cork again failed with the bat, bowled attempting an extravagant drive second ball, before the rest of the tail subsided, with only Hegg resisting, finishing on 21 not out.  Perhaps they wanted the Saturday off.  Lancashire were finally bowled out for 305, a lead of 346 runs.

 

Anderson opened the bowling from the Brian Statham End, before replacing Peter Martin at the other end after only two overs.  It didn't take long, as Peters was soon caught at gully, playing an uppish drive.  The champagne moment, well, over of the day was soon to follow.  Graeme Hick faced Anderson and the first ball was short and wide and got clubbed in front of square for four in the familiar fashion.  Anderson came back superbly, however, with a full pitched ball which Hick played and missed.  He followed this with a rip-snorting shorter pitched delivery, which again had Hick playing thin air, before another full delivery found the edge of Hick's bat, to be caught well at second slip by a diving Hooper.  Having bowled Hick for three in the first innings, this was definitely game Anderson, and the bowler celebrated joyfully.  Anderson followed this up by having captain Ben Smith caught in the gully area, off a ball which may have been a little slower than usual.

 

Anderson was taken off after a fairly lengthy spell and the game slowed down a little, as Worcestershire realised that there chances were slim at 40-3.  Keedy had bowled from the fifth over from the Brian Statham End and, for a number of overs, without much penetration.  However, persistence paid off and, as he began to noticeably fight the ball a little more, started to cause further problems, finally having Kadeer Ali excellently caught at slip by Cork (who had a bit of a niggle and didn't bowl in the second innings).  Chapple, who had replaced Anderson, then had Andrew Hall leg before, to break the Anderson-Keedy combination.  But it was all misery of Worcestershire, as Keedy then removed Moore, Bichel, Rhodes and Mason for 36 runs, before Anderson, brought back to speed things up, trapped Malik in front with a yorker to wrap things up.  Batty had put up some fight, with 31 not out, but Worcestershire had been bowled out 127, a loss of 219 runs, and crucially in the second innings they did not have a partnership above 22.

 

The plaudits went to the bowlers, however, as Keedy finished with 5-62, bowling 19 overs unchanged, and Anderson finished with 4-32 and match figures of 10-81, his first 10-wicket haul in first class cricket.  Anderson and Keedy were duly applauded off the field on what turned out to be a glorious day.  Lancashire's second Championship win of the season, and a convincing one at that, sent them top of the table with 55 points, ahead of Middlesex on 42 points, Kent on 40 points and Warwickshire on 37 points, although Lancashire had played four games compared to three for Lancashire's nearest rivals.
Lancashire won by 219 runs (scorecard) - Lancashire 17, Worcestershire 3

 

Lancashire vs Hampshire, National League, Old Trafford, 16 May 2004

Lancashire won the toss and put Hampshire in, who made a reasonably slow start in the face of tight bowling from Cork (who completed his full quota in one spell, finishing with 2-25), but the arrival of the Australian all-rounders Shane Watson and Michael Clarke at the crease sped things up somewhat.  It was around midway through the innings when spaceman joined proceedings, arriving just in time to see a collapse from Hampshire.  They had reached 150-3 and were looking dangerous, but when Clarke lobbed Mahmood lamely to Hooper at cover, they suddenly lost four wickets for two runs.  After Clarke had departed, Kendall tried an ambitious cross-batted shot to deep midwicket, to be caught well on the run by Crook, before Mahmood trapped Prittipaul in front with a yorker and got Udal caught in the deep.  This clatter of wickets slowed Hampshire right down when a target of well over 200 was on the cards.  Chapple and Crook claimed a wicket each and only a few lusty blows by Mascarenhas in the last over off Chapple but some respectability on the total (although Crook dropped a catch before the fireworks).  Hampshire finished on 189-9 of their full quota of 45 overs.

 

Lancashire sent Crook in as an opener (in for the injured Mal Loye), and were rewarded as he and Sutcliffe clattered the bowling around for the first couple of overs, with Hampshire's captain Will Kendall frantically changing around his bowlers.  Mullally then bowled Sutcliffe for 10 and Tremlett had Crook caught, having scored a breezy 20 off 20 balls.  But Law had already shown his intentions who calmly hit the Hampshire bowlers where he pleased, ably supported by Mark Chilton.  Law's coup de grace came in an over against Shaun Udal, when he repeatedly danced down the pitch, hitting him for 6-4-6 over long off and long on.  Udal was swiftly taken off and replaced by left-arm spinner Clarke and, when Law tried the same shot off the Aussie bowler, he mistimed it and was caught by Taylor at mid-off, much to the disappointment of the crowd.  Law had already done his job in the glorious sunshine, however, having scored 83 off 74 balls.  Chilton passed his fifty, but the game suddenly slowed down and the crowd got restless, but Hooper suddenly exploded, hitting three fours in a quick-fire 17 and Lancashire surpassed Hampshire's total with slightly more than 13 overs to spare.  Lancashire's win put them four points behind leaders Glamorgan, who were Lancashire's next opponents.

Lancashire won by 7 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 4, Hampshire 0

 

Lancashire vs Bradford/Leeds UCCE, friendly, Bradford Park Avenue, 19-21 May 2004

Lancashire rested or had unavailable through injury or England commitments no less than 10 first-team players for this match.  The team still contained first-team regulars such as Keedy, Mahmood, Hogg, Swann, Crook and Chilton, made as captain for this match.  Outings were also given to second-teamers Horton, Currie, Schofield, Haynes and Wood (possibly the eighth or ninth choice seamer this season).  They did not make a great stab at the first innings, the dismissal of Swann for 62 precipitating a collapse from 114-2 to 125-6.  Currie's impressive innings of 125 enabled Lancashire to recover to 296 all out.  Only Dawood really competed with the bat in response, but his innings of 117 helped Bradford/Leeds UCCE to 247 all out, 49 runs behind.  The scorecard suggesting forgotten leg-spinner Chris Schofield took a hat-trick, finishing with 4-37.

 

Lancashire struggled in their second innings, and only an innings of 56 by Currie, batting at number nine and adding a crucial 66 for the last wicket with Keedy, gave the visitors a barely decent total of 178.  The university team, however, could not make the 228 runs required to win, being bowled out for 156, with Crook claiming 3-51 and Schofield 2-12.  Lancashire won by a slightly unconvincing 71 runs, but kept their 2004 unbeaten record intact.

Lancashire won by 71 runs (scorecard)

 

England vs New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's, 20-24 May 2004

England won the toss and Trescothick, captain after Vaughan injured his knee in practise, put New Zealand in to bat.  Andrew Strauss, captain at Middlesex, was brought in ahead of Collingwood in Vaughan's place.  Fleming and Richardson put on 58 for the first wicket before Fleming cut Simon Jones to Strauss at point, before the dangerous Astle came in to put on 103 for the second wicket.  A clatter of wickets followed, with Flintoff getting Astle caught behind for 64 (off only 77 balls), Jones snaring Styris in a similar fashion (for a duck) and Hoggard trapping McMillan in front.  However, the big left-handed all-rounder Jacob Oram joined Mark Richardson to add 106 for the fifth wicket.  Richardson was then unlucky to be given out LBW to Harminson seven runs short of his century, having got an inside edge, leaving New Zealand 284-5 at the end of the first day.

 

The England bowlers got more on top of New Zealand on the morning of the second day, but a blistering innings of 82 off only 47 balls by Cairns (during which he surpassed Viv Richards' record of Test match sixes in the process), including 6-6-OUT off Flintoff.  They finished on 386, not a bad total having been put in.  But Strauss impressed on debut, as he and Trescothick serenely put on 190 for the first wicket, before Trescothick edged Oram behind for 86.  Strauss, however, made his century, surviving an inside edge deflecting against the off stump and going for four, with a cover drive bringing up three figures.  Vettori then got a bit of extra turn to get Strauss was caught at short leg before the close and nightwatchman Hoggard survived the last few overs with Butcher, England finishing on 246-2 at the end of the day, only 140 runs behind.

 

However, England's top order made a mess of the great start by their openers, with only the obdurate Hoggard really impressing, as England went to 311-6, in serious danger of conceding a first innings deficit.  But Flintoff and Geraint Jones, who combined well in the first innings of the fourth and last Test match in the West Indies, changed the tempo of the England innings.  They played their shots freely, with Jones impressive with his favourite shot, the square cut.  It was his downfall, however, as he mistimed a cut to Oram off part-time bowler Styris, four short of his half-century, having put on 105 with Flintoff.  There was still a lead of 30 runs, but Flintoff disappointedly holed out to a slightly deep mid-off, before Simon Jones and Giles fell in quick succession, England being bowled out for 441, 55 runs ahead.

 

New Zealand, despite losing Fleming early, caught at short leg by Hussain off Harmison, soon overhauled the deficit, eventually reaching 180 before losing the second wicket (although McCullum, promoted to number three due to Astle's illness, was lucky to survive, having gloved Flintoff to the keeper early on in his innings).  Another quick clatter of four wickets, with Jones getting McCullum and Giles snaring two, both caught by Hussain, who then run out Oram well with a direct hit.  New Zealand had slumped to 203-5, but the stubborn Richardson, batting with Astle, put on 84 for the sixth wicket.  During this time, Richardson finally reached the century at Lords he desired so strongly but missed out so narrowly in the first innings, but Harmison had him caught behind shortly afterwards, which led to the loss of the last five wickets for 49 runs, although a last wicket partnership of 26 frustrated England.  Harmison finished with four wickets in all, to give him eight wickets in the match, another impressive return for the steadily improving Durham bowler.

 

New Zealand, being bowled out for 336, left England a tricky second innings target of 281 runs to win, who then negotiated the final few overs of the day to finish on 8-0 with one day to play.  England started the fifth day badly, with Trescothick and Butcher falling early, leaving England struggling on 35-2.  But Strauss again showed fine composure, belying his lack of Test match experience, and Hussain displayed his typical if not very fluent grittiness.  They survived some awkward moments, but did not score too far below the required run rate.  They had guided England to 143 before Hussain called for a non-existent run to Cairns at point, causing confusion between the batsmen, before Strauss sacrificed himself, run out at the batsman's end, 17 runs short of what would have been a second century in his debut Test match.

 

Thorpe, Hussain's old mate, came in and calmed Nasser down, and the two settled down to knock of the remaining runs.  They started slowly, but Thorpe's ability to find the gaps and keep the scoreboard ticking over maintained momentum, before Hussain began to find his touch and play more aggressively.  Thorpe reached his fifty with not many runs required and it looked like Hussain would fall short of the hundred mark.  But a superb lofted straight drive over mid-on gave the crowd an excited buzz, before he played his favourite cover drive off the next ball to reach a well-deserved and emotionally celebrate ton.  He raised both arms in the air and saluted the entire crowd.  The next ball disappeared through the same region to give England victory and a 1-0 lead in the series.  Strauss was named man of the match and Hussain, aware that there could be no better moment to leave the game, especially with no shortage of English middle-order batsmen scoring runs in the county game, resigned a couple of days after the match, after consulting his close friends and family.  Nasser, we salute you.

England won by 7 wickets (scorecard)

 

Lancashire vs Glamorgan, National League, Old Trafford, 23 May 2004

Lancashire won the toss and asked the opposition to field (as they have done so before in the National League on several occasions this season).  This was billed as a clash of the table leaders, as both teams were unbeaten at the start.  Spaceman was reluctant to go to this match, having completed the Great Manchester Run in the morning (all 10 kilometres of it) and clashing as it was with the first Test match on Channel 4, settling instead for listening to it on Radio Wales via the internet.  Lancashire had Anderson and Loye available for this match, and they replaced Crook and Swann from the team that beat Hampshire.  Martin was omitted having had a miner operation on his knee that would keep him out for a couple of weeks or so.  Anderson soon had an impact, bowling Robert Croft for 9, but Wharf and Elliot upped the pace, scoring easily at five runs an over.  Elliot fell to Mahmood, attempting an overly extravagant shot, but Powell continued the pace, as Glamorgan reached 132 in the 25th over.

 

Carl Hooper was then introduced and had an immediate impact, snaring Powell before bowling Wharf for 72 (of 62 balls).  Glamorgan then struggled to put any partnerships together as Mahmood, Anderson, Chapple and Hogg kept them pinned down and took wickets regularly.  The visitors, who at one point threatened a very challenging target, were eventually all out for 210, with 17 balls remaining in the innings.  Pick of the bowlers was Mahmood with 4-39, but Hooper was also key, taking 2-35 off his full quota of overs.  Lancashire, in response, did not hang around, with Loye and Sutcliffe getting off to their customary explosive start.  Loye was the initial destroyer, hitting 42 off 35 balls, including two sixes, before he tried for a third and was caught in deep midwicket.  Law took up the mantle and Sutcliffe also increased his scoring rate, before getting stumped off Cosker for 30, again trying too hard to score runs and perhaps needlessly giving away his wicket.

 

Law then was bowled by Croft for 35 off 34 balls to give Glamorgan a glimmer of a chance at 117-3, but Chilton and Hooper calmed things down, without particularly letting the run rate drop.  Glamorgan had no answer and even though they got Chilton and Chapple, Hooper was still around to guide Lancashire home with a ball more than 10 overs to spare, capping a fine all-round performance.  Lancashire scored so quickly that their net run rate at the end exceeded Glamorgan's and they rose to the top of the table on this basis, as they were level with points (although Lancashire had a game in hand).  Rather hilariously, former Glamorgan player Steve James, as part of a fairly biased commentary team, kept making the point that if Glamorgan had played 20% better they would have won easily, somewhat missing the point about sport and performing on the day.  Face it, Steve, your boys got a pasting.

Lancashire won by 5 wickets (scorecard) - Lancashire 4, Glamorgan 0

 

Lancashire vs Middlesex, County Championship, Old Trafford, 25-28 May 2004

Alec Swann replaced Dominic Cork for this game, and Anderson again got a run out for his county side.  Middlesex won the toss, elected to bat and got off to a good start, with opening partnerships of 92 and 88.  The first two wickets fell to spinners Keedy and Hooper, but potential England pacemen Anderson and Mahmood claimed two further quick wickets to leave Middlesex on 198-4.  The one man standing firm was South African (Middlesex's third but presumably in on the passport loophole) left-hand batsman Sven Koenig and, when he was sixth out, bowled by Anderson, he had made a career-best 171, and the score was on 329.  The keeper, David Nash, eked out some crucial runs with the tail, who themselves did not substantially contribute to reach 382 all out in 133.2 overs, with Lancashire only getting eight wickets by the crucial bonus point-deciding 130-over mark.  The pick of the bowlers were again Anderson (3-95) and Keedy (3-99).

 

Lancashire started well in response, with the top four batsmen all getting in the runs.  Sutcliffe (59) and Chilton (93) put on 126 for the first wicket, Chilton and Loye (98) put on 63 for the second and Loye and Law (49) put on 99 for the third.  But their progress was sluggish and certainly not quick enough to force a win.  When Hooper and Swann put on 70 for the fifth wicket, they looked in a strong position, but they lost the last five wickets for 47 runs, to finish with a lead of only 35.  Anderson again bowled Koenig to ensure that he did not repeat the heroics of the first innings, before trapping Hutton leg before for 41, but only after a partnership of 109.  Middlesex finished the day on 117-2 and the match was reasonably even poised, but with a draw the most likely result.  This was compounded by the presence of persistent rain, which enabled only 12 runs to be scored on the final day.  Honours again even between the two sides.

Match drawn (scorecard) - Lancashire 10, Middlesex 10

 

Lancashire vs Sussex, C&G Trophy 3rd round, Hove, 29 May 2004

Lancashire's third round clash with Sussex was televised on Sky but unfortunately (if you can call it that), spaceman was away catching the sun on the Greek island Santorini.  They could welcome back Flintoff for a rare match for the county, with Cork still left out (presumably due to injury).  Sussex won the toss and put Lancashire in, and the visitors made solid progress.  Lancashire never really got away from Sussex on what wasn't a completely great pitch to bat on, with Loye and Chilton getting half-centuries.  Brief cameos from Flintoff (35 from 45) and Hooper (30 not out from 23), including two sixes each ensured that Lancashire posted a challenging score of 242-7 off 50 overs.

 

Sussex started badly in response.  Ian Ward hit Anderson for two runs, but then had to retire hurt next ball, before Chapple ran through the top order, getting Prior, Montgomerie and Goodwin caught in reasonably quick succession.  Successive partnerships of 64 and 63 put Sussex nearly back on track but they never really recovered from the early losses (and Chapple finished with 3-44).  A tight spell of bowling from Flintoff of 2-28, who is in the top 10 ODI bowlers in the world (according to the PwC ratings), ensured that Sussex were never in the chase and, although Ward came back later and despite Lancashire apparently dropping several catches, Sussex required too many and finished 12 runs short, despite some late hitting from Kirtley and Martin-Jenkins.  Mark Chilton was awarded man of the match for 62 of 78 balls and two catches, including an outstanding leaping left-handed catch in the gulley to dismiss Goodwin.  So Lancashire progressed to the quarter finals, and were drawn against Yorkshire. a juicy fixture if ever there was one.  Lancashire had injuries from the match, however, as Carl Hooper bruised his thumb (he missed the entire Sussex innings) and Warren Hegg split the webbing between two fingers.

Lancashire won by 12 runs (scorecard)

 

On to June 2004

 

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