England v West Indies day 5 Babs Oduwole reports
May 22 2012 - 01:09:17
Written off by the press in the lead up and during this test, and insulted by talk of ticket sales being reduced to a minimum of three and not the usual four days of cricket in the tests to come, the Windies by taking this match to the last day and cornering England on 57-4 this morning, stuck the proverbial at those who had patronised and underestimated them in the last few weeks.
7,000 plus spectators saw the Windies lose by 5 wickets today; 3 wickets better than 8th place Bangladesh, who they sit one place above in the rankings, and considerably better than former world no 1 India, who lost here by 261 runs in 2011. "We never underestimated them. You only had to see the way they ran Australia very close to know they are a very disciplined side," said Andrew Straus.
England held their nerve thanks to a fine and tempered innings of 79 by Cook, who forged with Bell, 63, a partnership of 132 from 189.
There was an early morning wobble; the wickets of Pietersen and Trott fell within 34 balls of each other. Injuries and niggles to Gabriel, Edwards and Roach, meant that Sammy and Samuels had to take key wickets and keep the pressure on. They did not.
Sammy said "Shannon have back spasm; Fidel not at his best, and Marlon had to fill in, and make up some time."
With the over rate occupying his mind- rightly so, as he would be fined 80% of his match fee later- as much as the run rate, Sammy added "giving Marlon a bowl was a bit of both; bowling some overs and bowling some time. Kemar is a small fella bowling so fast; he get aches and pains. He get a dodgy ankle and get some treatment, but he should be ready for next test."
Cook and Bell were able to cruise at ODI middle innings pace and style. Their 50 partnership for the fifth wicket came in 74 balls, and the 100 partnership in 148 balls. They worked the gaps and took singles to fielders in the deep. Cook cut Sammy and Samuels for singles frequently and Bell played the same shot to Samuels, seemingly at will. Samuels conceded 52 runs in his 10 overs.
Samuels though, did not lose the Windies the match. Sammy partly blamed himself for that. "I think I let the team down last night. I was striking the ball well; the field was spread out and we could have given the bowlers 250 to defend." Roach was given a second spell after lunch, and he tried in vain for a brace of wickets to change the game but the pitch was good, the ball not as hard, and England in control.
"It was getting a bit harder but we had faith the wicket would stay flat and slow," said Strauss. "Our plan was just to negotiate the new ball and things would become more simple. Whenever you're chasing there's a bit of pressure, so it was an outstanding effort from Cook and Bell. They played in a very classy manner."
Home in sight, Bell came down the wicket to Samuels for the shot of the day; a beautiful lofted drive over mid off. The stroke looked impossibly easy, as did his clip through midwicket to win the match by 5 wickets. England will be glad the ghost of bad run chases in the winter did not return.
"Chasing down 190 is easier than a chasing a 100. You can go out there and bat in a way you can't for small chases on slow, turning surfaces. They are mentally harder," said Strauss. So are the West Indians it would seem.