Cricket: Fleming still upbeat after close defeat

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The Independent Online
MATTHEW FLEMING tasted defeat for the first time as an England cricketer yesterday but still ended up feeling strangely fulfilled. Fleming, the all-rounder and former captain in the Royal Green Jackets, said his fifth one-day international cap confirmed to him what a good limited-overs team had been moulded around the captain, Adam Hollioake, last winter.

At 33, Fleming is bubbling with enthusiasm at his late chance in the team, with the World Cup in England in 14 months' time a realistic target.

Fleming's performance was just one reason why England pushed West Indies right to the wire in Barbados on Wednesday, losing by just one wicket, and with one ball to go, when they should have been crushed after being given by far the worst of the conditions by losing the toss.

Fleming said: "If we had the rub of the green I'm sure we would have won that game. And I think we can rightly feel proud of our performance even though the series is now back to 1-1.

"This side has such strength in depth that I am sure it will tell in the end. Ambrose and Walsh were able to launch a torrid assault on our top order when the pitch was damp in the morning.

"But we did incredibly well to come through that and reach 260 and then to almost pull off the victory despite their flying start and the fact that they had best of the conditions to bat in.

"But we are in there fighting and the extraordinary thing about this team is that, even though we won in Sharjah, we have yet to play as well as we can.

"I don't think many sides would live with us if we did and I am sure, if we can improve, we will soon start dictating games. Adam as captain is a fantastic catalyst for what is going on around him, and in Alec Stewart we have somebody who has seen it all and who also lifts and cajoles.

"We have useful enthusiasm around, a bit of brain and a high sense of irreverence. I think all the ingredients are there for a really top side and what we need to do now is make sure we get it all to blend.

"There has never been any lack of determination but I think we will be squeezing a bit more out of ourselves for the two games this week in St Vincent. I truly believe we had 11 potential match-winners out there.

Fleming said that his own ambitions were clear. "I have 18 months of international cricket left in me, realistically," he added. "I hope to be in for the World Cup and at the moment I am on top of a wave and determined to keep on riding it for as long as I can.

"Since being picked for Sharjah I have had a great time. I've got nice people around me, I'm in a lovely part of world playing for England and I am being paid for it. I've got nothing to lose have I?"

England's cricketers flew from Barbados yesterday morning for St Vincent where the third and fourth internationals of this five-match series will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

Leicestershire's Darren Maddy has joined the squad, but will act only as a substitute fielder. That decision was made in the wake of Graham Thorpe's return to England with back problems.

Bridgetown scoreboard

West Indies won toss

ENGLAND

N V Knight lbw b Simmons 90

150 min, 107 balls, 7 fours, 1 six

A J Stewart c Lara b Walsh 3

41 min, 26 balls

B C Hollioake c and b Rose 16

30 min, 15 balls, 3 fours

G A Hick b Lewis 0

5 min, 3 balls

M R Ramprakash c Ambrose b Lewis 29

53 min, 51 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

*A J Hollioake run out 11

25 min, 13 balls, 1 four

M A Ealham c Ambrose b Simmons 45

51 min, 37 balls, 5 fours, 1 six

D R Brown b Simmons 21

31 min, 26 balls, 1 four

M V Fleming c Williams b Ambrose 28

23 min, 17 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

R D B Croft not out 11

14 min, 7 balls, 2 fours

D W Headley b Ambrose 0

2 min, 1 ball

Extras (lb2 w9 nb1) 12

Total (217 min, 50 overs) 266

Fall: 1-21 (Stewart) 2-71 (B Hollioake) 3-72 (Hick) 4-131 (Ramprakash) 5-154 (Knight) 6-158 (A Hollioake) 7-206 (Brown) 8-238 (Ealham) 9-257 (Fleming) 10-266 (Headley).

Bowling: Ambrose 10-0-44-2 (w1) (8-0-31-0, 2-0-13-2); Walsh 10-1-51-1 (w2) (6-1-26-1, 3-0-10-0, 1-0-15-0); Rose 8-0-50-1 (nb1 w1) (7-0-33-1, 1-0-17-0); Lewis 10-0-40-2 (one spell); Simmons 8-0-46-3 (nb1 w2) (2-0- 10-0, 4-0-15-1, 2-0-21-2); Hooper 4-0-33-0 (nb1 w3) (2-0-13-0, 2-0-20- 0).

Progress: Rain delayed start until 9.50am. 50: 55 min, 75 balls. 100: 111 min, 153 balls. 150: 143 min, 204 balls. 200: 185 min, 262 balls. 250: 211 min, 294 balls. Knight's 50: 81 min, 61 balls, 5 fours, 1 six.

WEST INDIES

C B Lambert run out (Knight TV replay) 25

27 min, 18 balls, 3 fours, 1 six

P A Wallace c A Hollioake b Brown 22

21 min, 16 balls, 3 fours, 1 six

*B C Lara c Ramprakash b Headley 24

22 min, 19 balls, 5 fours

S C Williams c Fleming b A Hollioake 68

129 min, 88 balls, 2 fours, 1 six

C L Hooper c Croft b Fleming 66

108 min, 93 balls, 4 fours, 1 six

P V Simmons lbw b Fleming 5

11 min, 6 balls, 1 four

R D Jacobs not out 28

50 min, 34 balls, 1 six

R N Lewis run out (Fleming TV replay) 4

4 min, 3 balls, 1 four

F A Rose c A Hollioake b Fleming 3

12 min, 7 balls

C E L Ambrose c and b A Hollioake 14

18 min, 15 balls, 1 four

C A Walsh not out 1

5 min, 2 balls

Extras (lb4,w1,nb2) 7

Total (for 9, 208 min, 49.5 overs) 267

Fall: 1-41 (Wallace), 2-54 (Lambert), 3-79 (Lara), 4-211 (Hooper), 5- 211 (Williams), 6-221 (Simmons), 7-226 (Lewis), 8-236 (Rose), 9-265 (Ambrose).

Bowling: Brown 8-1-36-1 (w1), Headley 7-0-68-1 (nb2), Croft 10-0-46-0, Ealham 8-0-29-0, Fleming 9-0-41-3, A Hollioake 7.5-0-43-2 (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 23 min, 34 balls. 100: 61 min, 85 balls. 150: 112 min, 171 balls. 200: 144 min, 219 balls. 250: 195 min, 289 balls.

Williams 50: 97 min, 68 balls, 2 fours, 1 six. Hooper 50: 87 min, 78 balls, 4 fours.

Umpires: B Morgan and E Nicholls. TV Replay Umpire: H Moore. Match Referee: R S Madugalle.

Man of the match: N V Knight.

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