Cricket: Atherton inspires one-day wonder: Imperious Lewis rips heart out of West Indies batting as England gain psychological advantage

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England . . . . . . . . . . . .202

West Indies . . . . . . . . . .141

England win by 61 runs

TO THE surprise of very few people, this contest turned out to be the rough equivalent of a Sumo wrestler sitting on a carton of eggs. However, to general astonishment, it turned out to be England wearing the loincloth.

One-day internationals are unpredictable at the best of times, and as a barometer for a Test series, they are largely useless. Even so, in a match where the West Indies totalled 1,049 one-day appearances against England's collective 216, yesterday's victory - by 61 runs with more than nine overs remaining - was as crushing as these affairs get.

England, who had only ever won one previous one-day international in 12 starts in the Caribbean, will pick up whatever psychological bonus points are going before the first Test in Jamaica on Saturday, and it was also a day of strong personal satisfaction for Mike Atherton.

As no one else was going to pick him for one of these games (three years and 29 games have passed since he was last considered up to it in one- day cricket) Atherton was finally able to do it himself as captain, and his three-hour innings of 86 was as crucial to the result as winning the toss and batting first on a pitch that got progressively slower and lower as the game wore on.

With strokeplay becoming correspondingly hazardous, England's 202 was always a competitive total, and when disciplined bowling reduced the West Indies to a sickly 82 for 6 in 28 overs, it had almost ceased to be a contest until Jimmy Adams and Andy Cummins embarked upon a muck- or-nettles operation.

Devon Malcolm's first over back yielded 12 runs, prompting Atherton to replace him with Alan Igglesden, and when Adams promptly holed out to deep square leg, the West Indies came relatively quietly. If the morning announcement that Igglesden had recovered from an injury, rather than gone down with one, represented something of a collector's item, so too did Malcolm circling underneath a skier in Igglesden's first over and actually catching it.

That was to get rid of Desmond Haynes, and Malcolm had already struck an even more damaging blow by getting Brian Lara caught at mid- on off a leading edge. However, it was Chris Lewis who broke the back of the West Indian innings, with the wickets of Richie Richardson and Phil Simmons with consecutive balls either side of a drinks break, and then bowling Keith Arthurton off an inside edge two overs later.

Lewis bowled superbly well, although, as ever, it does not answer the 'will the real Chris Lewis please stand up?' conundrum. The Lewis that stood up yesterday was the one that England would like to see on a daily basis, rather than the Lewis that occasionally takes to his hammock when the mood is not with him.

Whether the West Indies' substandard performance had anything to do with half their side arriving in dribs and drabs the night before the game is hard to say. However, as both teams were being introduced to assorted local bigwigs before the match, the thought occurred that they might have used the occasion better by shaking hands with each other.

Unprepared or not, it was straight down to familiarly mean business when the game began, with Curtly Ambrose and Winston Benjamin proving so difficult to get away that the scoreboard would have seized up completely but for a Malcolmesque spell with the new ball from Courtney Walsh.

Thanks to Walsh, Atherton and Alec Stewart had provided a decent platform with 35 off 11 overs before Stewart paid the price he is usually required to stump up for playing away from his body with his bootlaces apparently tied together.

There then followed a stagnant period in which only 44 more runs came from the next 20 overs, without a single boundary, and, as is frequently the case in this type of cricket, it was the apparently innocuous medium pacer that pegged it back. Andy Cummins went for only 28 in his 10 overs, and also took the wickets of England's two top scorers when the slog was on at the end.

One of them was via a breathtaking catch by Phil Simmons off a pull from Graeme Hick so ferocious that no one would have blamed Simmons had he chosen to dive the other way. This was off a waist-high full toss, but it was another one from Cummins, a good deal closer to head height, that caused a certain amount of controversy while Atherton was batting.

Part of Cummins's repertoire is a back of the hand, looping leg-spinner, similar to the one Franklyn Stephenson used to bowl for Nottinghamshire, and when it goes wrong - as it did this time - it comes out as a slow beamer. Atherton, too busy ducking to make a serious attempt at hitting it, was therefore a touch miffed when the umpire failed to call no-ball.

However, although Atherton went so far as to remove his helmet, and advance down the pitch for a hands-on-hips disagreement with the umpire, the exact wording on an above- waist-height full toss being judged illegal clearly requires it to be a fast one. Presumably because this delivery would not have removed the skin from a rice pudding, let alone a coat of paint from Atherton's helmet, Cummins got away with it.

Atherton and Hick otherwise embraced the modern theory that six singles (there were 70 of them in their collective total of 134 runs) in one over are just as useful as one smite into the car park and five fresh-air shots, and Atherton also proved that in this type of cricket it is just as important to have someone dropping anchor as hoisting the spinnaker.

England's new chairman of selectors will be a choice between two former England captains, Ray Illingworth and MJK Smith, the Test and County Cricket Board said yesterday.

SCOREBOARD

(England won toss)

ENGLAND

*M A Atherton c Richardson b Cummins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86

(180 min, 147 balls, 6 fours)

A J Stewart c Lara b Benjamin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

(46 min, 34 balls, 2 fours)

G P Thorpe c Adams b Benjamin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

(26 min, 14 balls)

R A Smith c and b Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(31 min, 23 balls)

G A Hick c Simmons b Cummins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

(83 min, 63 balls, 4 fours)

M P Maynard not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

(22 min, 16 balls, 1 fours)

C C Lewis not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

(13 min, 7 balls)

Extras (4b 7lb 3nb) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Total (for 5, 203 min, 50 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .202

Fall: 1-35 (Stewart), 2-45 (Thorpe), 3-73 (Smith), 4-166 (Atherton), 5-176 (Hick).

Did not bat: S L Watkin, A P Igglesden, P C R Tufnell, D E Malcolm.

Bowling: Ambrose 10-2-35-0 (5-2-7-0, 2-0-9-0, 3-0-19-0); Walsh 10-0-42-0

(4-0-32-0, 4-0-13-0, 2-0-6-0); Benjamin 10-2-38-2 (6-2-8-2, 3-0-20-0, 1-0-10-0); Cummins 10-1-28-2 (5-1-11-0, 3-0-7-0, 2-0-10-2); Harper 10-0-48-1 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 82 min, 18.5 overs. 100: 133 min, 34.4 overs. 150: 170 min, 42.3 overs.

Atherton's 50: 129 min, 105 balls, 2 fours.

WEST INDIES

D L Haynes c Malcolm b Igglesden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

(51 min, 29 balls, 2 fours)

B C Lara c Igglesden b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

(17 min, 16 balls, 2 fours)

*R B Richardson c Maynard b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(48 min, 28 balls, 1 four)

K L T Arthurton b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

(37 min, 23 balls, 1 four)

P V Simmons b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(1 min, 1 ball)

J C Adams c Thorpe b Igglesden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

(104 min, 55 balls, 3 fours)

R A Harper lbw Watkin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

(33 min, 22 balls, 1 four)

A C Cummins c Thorpe b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

(56 min, 41 balls, 3 fours)

W K M Benjamin c Thorpe b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(5 min, 5 balls)

C E L Ambrose c Smith b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

(21 min, 15 balls, 1 four)

C A Walsh not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(2 min, 1 ball)

Extras (1b 10lb 11w). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Total (184 min, 40.4 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .141

Fall: 1-17 (Lara), 2-43 (Haynes), 3-48 (Richardson), 4-48 (Simmons); 5-55 (Arthurton), 6-82 (Harper), 7-121 (Adams), 8-122 (Benjamin), 9-136 (Cummins).

Bowling: Malcolm 8.4-1-41-3 (nb1, w3) (6-1-23-1, 1-0-12-0, 1.4-0-6-2); Watkin 8-1-27-1 (5-1-14-0, 3-0-13-1); Lewis 8-2-18-3 (w5) (one spell); Igglesden 8-2-12-2 (w2) (6-2-9-1, 2-0-3-1); Tufnell 8-0-32-1 (w1) (4-0-16-0, 4-0-16-1).

Progress: 50: 80 min, 106 balls. 100: 139 min, 190 balls.

Man of the match: M A Atherton.

Umpires: L H Barker and C R Duncan.

Match referee: S M Gavaskar.

(Photograph omitted)

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