Cricket: Hosts closer to final target

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The Independent Online
West Indies 120; England 123-6

England win by four wickets

THE Arundel Ladies Cricket Appreciation Society were none too impressed with the prizes on offer in the raffle here yesterday. Tickets to the Women's World Cup final were all very well, but a copy of Barbara Cartland's Love and Lovers, signed by the Dame herself? Suggestions as to where the author could put her Mills and Boonisms, to put it mildly were somewhat colourful.

To her credit, Dame Barbara is one of the benefactors whose philanthropy has made it possible to stage this tournament, which makes a change from the days when Audrey Collins, the long-standing president of the Women's Cricket Association, would raise funds by buying chocolate and selling it at matches.

Progress remains slow in that quarter but at least there were signs of profitability on the field. Barring a mistake of Will Hay proportions at Ealing today, England ought to beat the Netherlands and qualify for Sunday's showpiece showdown at Lord's.

The mathematics, mind, are complicated. Should Australia dent New Zealand's unbeaten record today, run-rates will be employed to determine the finalists. By knocking off the 77 runs they required to beat Denmark in 8.3 overs yesterday the favourites now head that list with 3.43. England are a whisker behind on 3.34 and New Zealand on 3.03.

England, it must be said, tackled yesterday's task as if such considerations were immaterial and their rate suffered as a consequence. The hosts almost had their thunder stolen here by a West Indian side short on fitness but long, believe it or not, on spin.

Set a modest target of 121, England were feeling distinctly queasy after tea as Desiree Luke's off-breaks and the left-armers of Cherry-Anne Singh claimed 5 for 36 in 13 overs. Fortunately, Jo Chamberlain chose this moment to display her true colours for the first time in the competition, pulling and driving with equal alacrity to seal victory with 13.5 overs to spare.

Enlivened by an enthusiastic well-lubricated gaggle of Caribbean exiles, this was comfortably the most boisterous crowd England have attracted thus far, adding further lustre to an occasion attended by the outgoing chairman of the International Cricket Council, Sir Colin Cowdrey, and the high commissioner of Antigua.

What demeaned it to an extent, however, was the news that four members of the England squad had posed for a photo session in the kind of frilly garb Dame Barbara would heartily approve of, the results of which are due to be published in a certain tabloid this Saturday.

Most of their colleagues declined to deport themselves in such a manner, but Norma Izard, the England manager, consented to the request after much deliberation on the grounds that 'any publicity is good publicity'. She also insisted on seeing the negatives before publication. Such a trusting soul.