Cricket: Confident England are still on a high

England 247; Sri Lanka 211 England win by 36 runs. Rejuvenated Hick leads the way as world one-day champions are brushed aside by greater tactical astuteness
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LORD'S WAS introduced to modern cricket yesterday with an impressive England victory over the World Cup holders, Sri Lanka. Needing to score 248, Sri Lanka were bowled out in the final over for 211. The winning margin of 36 runs means that South Africa will have to beat England heavily at Edgbaston tomorrow, to have any chance of qualifying for the final.

Apart from the novelty factor of coloured clothing, this was a scrappy match rather than a spectacle and both teams underperformed to different degree on a slow but true pitch.

While it would be churlish to downgrade any England victory - they claim they need the winning habit - this was not a match they would have learned a great deal from as regards their World Cup plans, except that Sri Lanka's batting plan falls apart if they do not get away to their customary flyer.

Aside from a decent enough performance from Ian Austin on his debut, and a chancey half-century from Alec Stewart, that saw the England captain dropped three times, it was a performance that revolved around the comeback kids of whom Graeme Hick, having not been involved in the Texaco matches earlier in the summer, contributed the most.

Coming to the crease after Pramodya Wickremasinghe had removed both Alistair Brown and Nick Knight, Hick batted with prowess and power. When he was at the crease, England added 168 runs, the bulk coming in two partnerships, one worth 76 runs with his captain, the other, contributing 91 runs, with Nasser Hussain. And yet there is the feeling that any success Hick has outside of the Test arena proves nothing, other than there are two Graeme Hicks.

The schizophrenia, long suspected, has been glaringly apparent over the past three weeks. First, there has been the Hick of the last two Tests against South Africa: paralysed into uncertainty by the tenseness of the situation and the potency of the bowling. Then there was the one at Lord's yesterday who looked fluent and unencumbered enough to lift Kumara Dharmasena effortlessly into the top tier of the Grand Stand as if he were waving away a fly.

Hick, whose innings duly won the man of the match award, has played 72 one-day internationals and has two hundreds, one against India and the Netherlands, though he might have added to the tally yesterday had he not been run out attempting an optimistic single.

Even so, you cannot escape the fact that Hick tends to do better against weaker sides. Sri Lanka may be a daunting prospect with the bat but, the pacey Suresh Perera excepted, they are hardly intimidating. If this troubled talent is to find fulfilment, it will surely now have to come from the shorter game.

Put in by Sri Lanka, England's eventual total was at least 30 runs light. Like their batting in the Tests, the lower half of the order failed to contribute much and from a position of 223 for 3, they lost seven wickets for 24 runs in 35 balls. Coupled with the 30 extras conceded, there is still scope from something between major surgery and fine tuning to be performed.

However, if picking specialists in place of bits and pieces all-rounders contributed to a droopy tail, having three frontline pace bowlers certainly paid off. You get the impression with Sri Lanka that their bowling is almost incidental to proceedings and that no matter what total the opposition get, their batsmen fancy their chances. Finding themselves 49 for 4 in the 11th over, though, was perhaps too much of a shock and they never recovered.

Citing the the extra swing of the white ball as a key reason for picking the likes of Peter Martin and Alan Mullally, who throttled the middle order with his accuracy, the selectors perspicacity was rewarded. Martin, in his first one-dayer for two years, swung the ball away from the right- handers. One such ball, in the second over, accounted for Romesh Kaluwitharana, who edged behind after being drawn into a leg-side shot.

Meanwhile, Gough, fairly hurtling in from the Pavilion End, removed the danger man Sanath Jayasuriya for 11 with a beauty that bounced and left the batsman down the slope. Earlier Jayasuriya had taken 3 for 36 with his slippery left-arm spin, but his early loss was significant and two overs later Gough added Marvan Atapattu to his tally with an lbw decision that was neither the best nor the worst of the summer.

At that stage, with their heavy artillery nullified, Sri Lanka needed a major innings from Aravinda de Silva. A compact player, De Silva thumped several short-arm pulls and cuts to the boundary before the introduction of Austin gave them the wicket they wanted.

First wickets are never to be quibbled over, though De Silva, leg before to one that nipped back sharply, may beg to differ. Austin has been a stalwart for Lancashire over the past decade and his call-up for the injured Mark Ealham was deservedly popular. Having removed Sri Lanka's match winner he had the pleasure of adding to his tally by taking the last wicket as well. His next target - the World Cup.

Henry Blofeld, page 21

LORD'S SCOREBOARD

Sri Lanka won toss

ENGLAND

N V Knight c Atapattu b Wickremasinghe 17

50 min, 29 balls, 1 four

A D Brown c Atapattu

b Wickremasinghe 12

11 min, 11 balls, 2 fours

*A J Stewart b Jayasuriya 51

94 min, 67 balls, 8 fours

G A Hick run out 86

(Atapattu-Kaluwitharana TV replay)

122 min, 97 balls, 4 fours, 1 six

N Hussain b Dharmasena 39

61 min, 61 balls, 1 four, 1 six

A J Hollioake b Jayasuriya 3

8 min, 4 balls

R D B Croft c Kaluwitharana b Perera 3

13 min, 7 balls

I D Austin b Jayasuriya 8

20 min, 12 balls

P J Martin run out 3

(Kaluwitharana-Dharmasena)

6 min, 2 balls

D Gough not out 1

10 min, 3 balls

A D Mullally b Perera 1

6 min, 6 balls

Extras (lb11,w12) 23

Total (205 mins, 49.3 overs 247

Fall: 1-14 (Brown), 2-56 (Knight), 3-132 (Stewart), 4-223 (Hussain), 5-224 (Hick), 6-228 (Hollioake), 7-233 (Croft), 8-241 (Martin), 9-244 (Austin), 10-247 (Mullally).

Bowling: Wickremasinghe 7-0-33-2 (w2) (one spell), Perera 9.3-0-48-2 (4-0-21-0 2-0-12-0 2-0-9-0 1-0-4-1 0.3-0-2-1), Hathurusingha 3-0-23-0 (w1) (2-0-15-0 1-0-8-0), Dharmasena 10-0-54-1 (w2) (2-0-12-0 3-0-14-0 2-0-10-0 3-0-18-1), Muralitharan 10-0-42-0 (n b1) (5-0-18-0 5-0-24-0), Jayasuriya 10-0-36-3 (w2) (8-0-31-1 1-0-4-1 1-0-1-1).

Progress: 50: 44 min, 56 balls. 100: 83 min, 105 balls. 150:118 min, 175 balls. 200: 154 min, 241 balls.

15 over score: 87-2.

Stewart 50: 89 mins, 61 balls, 8 fours. Hick 50: 71 mins, 57 balls, 4 fours.

SRI LANKA

S T Jayasuriya c Knight b Gough 11

12 min, 13 balls, 2 fours

R S Kaluwitharana c Stewart b Martin 2

9 min, 3 balls

M S Atapattu lbw b Gough 6

14 min, 9 balls, 1 four

P A de Silva lbw b Austin 33

77 min, 45 balls, 5 fours

R P Arnold b Mullally 3

26 min, 21 balls

*A Ranatunga b Croft 33

83 min, 68 balls, 4 fours

U C Hathurusingha c Stewart b Mullally 7

14 min, 12 balls, 1 four

H D P K Dharmasena not out 33

99 min, 73 balls, 1 four

S A Perera c Brown b Hollioake 17

30 min, 25 balls, 2 fours

G P Wickremasinghe b Gough 18

24 min, 26 balls

M Muralitharan b Austin 18

11 min, 13 balls, 1 four, 1 six

Extras (b1,lb13,w10,nb6) 30

Total (205 mins, 49.3 overs) 211

Fall: 1-13 (Kaluwitharana), 2-17 (Jayasuriya), 3-28 (Atapattu), 4-49 (Arnold), 5-83 (de Silva), 6-97 (Hathurusingha), 7-126 (Ranatunga), 8- 159 (Perera), 9-189 (Wickremasinghe), 10-211 (Muralitharan).

Bowling: Gough 10-0-51-3 (nb5,w2) (5-0-22-2 3-0-9-0 2-0-20-1), Martin 8-0- 34-1 (nb2,w6) (6-0-28-1 2-0-6-0), Mullally 8-1-20-2 (one spell), Austin 8.3-0-37-2 (nb4,w1) (7-0-31-1 1.3-0-6-1), Croft 10-0-37-1, Hollioake 5- 0-18-1 (w1) (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 54 min, 70 balls. 100: 110 min, 148 balls. 150: 158 min, 229 balls. 200: 200 min, 300 balls.

15 overs score: 67-4.

Umpires: M J Kitchen and K E Palmer

TV Replay Umpire: T E Jesty

Match Referee: Ahmed Ebrahim

Man of the match: G A Hick

Adjudicator: R G D Willis

Scoreboard compiled by Jo King

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