THE GLOBAL success story of Adam Hollioake's one-day side continues apace. Setting the West Indies 293, England won by 16 runs here in yesterday's first one-day international after Nick Knight's brilliant hundred, matched by another later in the piece by his Warwickshire captain, Brian Lara, had allowed England to reach their formidable total.
It was a thrilling match, played on a faultless pitch. The West Indies, poised at one stage on 218 for five, with Lara still at the crease, were well ahead of England's run rate and probably should have won. Indeed, but for the old machismo raising its head to hold sway over cool-headed thinking, they probably would have done so. Mind you, Ben Hollioake's brilliant run-out of Lara, on 110 at the time, was a major turning point, one the home side never fully recovered from despite a late flurry of runs from Rawl Lewis and Franklyn Rose.
Lara's was not the only gem. Knight's century, his third in only his 17th one-day international, was every bit as breathtaking. He has now scored one more than anyone else in this England team, the next highest being Graeme Hick and Alec Stewart with two hundreds apiece, from 66 and 94 games respectively.
Knight's strength lies in good clean hitting rather than worked singles, which is why, on good true surfaces such as the one here, he is preferred to Michael Atherton, though Lara also eased his passage by giving the new ball to Rose instead of Curtly Ambrose.
Apart form a couple of uppish slashes through gully early on, it was the perfect exposition of a modern one-day innings until ended by a silly run out with Graham Thorpe. In between the ignominious end and the early uncertainty lay an innings full of undeniable quality and brio. Knight struck four sixes, two off Ambrose and one each off Walsh and Rose, and was a deserved winner of the man of the match award.
Unused to playing second fiddle, Stewart, his opening partner, nevertheless settled quickly, and once he had reached his fifty from 68 balls he fairly rocketed along until he was bowled by Walsh for 74. With less than 20 overs remaining at the fall of Stewart's wicket, the stage was surely set for Hollioake junior to strut his stuff. Clearly though, elder brother felt otherwise and Graeme Hick was sent to bat instead.
Ambiguous situations confuse Hick, and he was eventually bowled by the leg-spinner Lewis, not really knowing whether he should have been forcing the pace or stealing singles.
It was the signal for the innings to descend into madness and mayhem, a period that started when Knight twice flipped Ambrose for four over mid-wicket. Moments later he was run out and England were forced to hustle and steal runs. Neither Thorpe nor Mark Ealham were playing conventional cricket as 65 runs were added in the last seven overs.
It was the kind of scoring rate that the home side, after an electric start, looked capable of sustaining, at least until Clayton Lambert and Philo Wallace went in sucessive overs. But if limbo was invented in the Caribbean, it has rarely applied to the region's cricketers. Taking stock for about an over, Lara and Carl Hooper soon had England on the back foot.
After Lambert's brief but brutal lambasting, Lara's offering was a work of filigree beauty, as delicate cuts were mixed with withering pulls and drives. One smeared pull off Fleming travelled at least 80 yards before striking the upper portion of the main scoreboard at square leg.
Hooper was no less disparaging of England's motley assortment of medium- pacers. Lofting the ball, the West Indies vice-captain eased it effortlessly over an infield imprisoned by the restrictions of the first 15 overs. By the time the field were allowed to spread, the home side had scored 111-2, 33 runs more than England had scored at the same stage.
In some ways it was too one-sided to last. Attempting once again to loft Fleming over the top, Hooper holed out at long-off. With Robert Croft introduced for the first time, Shivnarine Chanderpaul soon followed, a top-edged sweep offering a simple catch to Knight at short fine leg.
It was a vital wicket, for it loaded even more pressure on to Lara, who, dropped earlier by Stewart off Ealham, was eventually run out by Hollioake. Without a bat or a bowl, Hollioake was under-utilised by big brother until his brilliant pick-up and throw from the square-leg boundary ended in Stewart's waiting gloves.
When Junior Murray, batting with a runner, edged behind off Dean Headley, an England victory looked assured. However, it got much closer than that, with Lewis and Rose adding 44, until Lewis was brilliantly stumped by Stewart. After that only Rose's mighty six off Fleming kept English hearts palpitating. Once he had gone, and with 20 still needed by the last pair of Ambrose and Walsh, there was only ever going to be one winner.
First one-day international scoreboard
West Indies won toss
N V Knight run out 122
171 min, 130 balls, 13 fours, 4 sixes
A J Stewart b Walsh 74
119 min, 85 balls, 9 fours
G A Hick b Lewis 29
49 min, 39 balls, 1 five
G P Thorpe b Simmons 4
13 min, 7 balls
*A J Hollioake not out 18
34 min, 14 balls, 3 fours
M A Ealham b Simmons 20
11 min, 14 balls, 1 four, 1 six
M V Fleming not out 22
10 min, 12 balls, 2 fours, 1 six
Extras (lb4) 4
Total (for 5, 206 min, 50 overs) 293
Fall: 1-165 (Stewart) 2-227 (Hick) 3-228 (Knight) 4-249 (Thorpe) 5-271 (Ealham).
Did not bat: B C Hollioake, R D B Croft, D R Brown, D W Headley.
Bowling: Rose 6-0-31-0 (one spell); Walsh 10-0-57-1 (7-0-42-0, 3-0-15- 1); Ambrose 8-0-42-0 (5-0-18-0, 3-0-24-0); Hooper 10-0-46-0 (nb1) (one spell); Lewis 8-0-55-1 (3-0-24-0, 5-0-31-1), Simmons 8-0-58-2 (one spell).
Progress: 50: 41 min, 61 balls. 100: 84 min, 123 balls. 150: 109 min, 163 balls. 200: 150 min, 223 balls. 250: 185 min, 274 balls. Knight's 50: 57 min, 49 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes. 100: 136 min, 110 balls, 11 fours, 3 sixes. Stewart's 50: 99 min, 68 balls, 6 fours.
C B Lambert c Stewart
b Headley 11
P A Wallace c Hick b Brown 13
*B C Lara run out 110
C L Hooper c Headley
b Fleming 45
S Chanderpaul c Knight b Croft 8
P V Simmons b A J Hollioke 18
J Murray c Stewart b Headley 7
R N Lewis st Stewart b Ealham 27
F A Rose
c A Hollioake b Fleming 24
C E L Ambrose not out C A Walsh b Ealham 0
Total (46.5 overs) 277
Fall: 1-25 2-27, 3-115, 4-145, 5-186, 6-219, 7-223, 8-266, 9-274.
Bowling: Brown (5-1-32-1); Headley (10-0-63-2); Ealham (7.5-0-37-2); Fleming (7-0-54-2); Croft (10-0-37-1); A J Hollioake (7-0-47-1).
Umpires: B Morgan and E Nicholls.
TV Replay Umpire: H Moore.
Match Referee: R S Madugalle.