Dancing in the dark
Caribbean spirits raised as West Indies have the final laugh in thrilling climax to put the lights out on England
Sunday 26 September 2004
West Indies achieved one of one-day cricket's most remarkable victories in a nerve-shredding match to lift the Champions Trophy in a ground shrouded in darkness last night. None of those occurrences had seemed remotely likely when they had fallen to 147 for 8, still 71 short of securing the mini-World Cup.
But in a partnership that matched vigilance with daring, the unsung pairing of Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw, wicketkeeper and seam bowler, saw them home with seven balls to spare. West Indies, rank outsiders, had won the trophy for the first time.
It would be churlish to suggest that England lost it, but Michael Vaughan gambled on using up the overs of his most destructive bowlers before the end in an attempt to take the last two wickets. It was a worthwhile ploy, it might have worked, but it left him nowhere to turn.
At stake for West Indies was something more than a cricket match, as Browne reminded a crowd who could hardly believe what they had just witnessed immediately afterwards.
Referring to Hurricane Ivan, which has devastated parts of the region lately and caused the deaths of scores of people, he said: "The people of the Caribbean have been through some really bad times lately and we really needed to do something like this for them. Today has been special for West Indies cricket and we really need to do stuff like this for the people back home." Not stuff like this every day, however. When Browne and Bradshaw came together, the match was England's to lose. But they refused to consider defeat. "When I was losing it, he kept me going, and when he was losing it I kept him going," Browne said.
And so it proved. They refused the offer of bad light and they knew it could only become worse. Bradshaw said they had made a pact to see off the big guns, Stephen Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, when they returned and then see if England's other bowlers could contain them. They did and England could not.
Brian Lara, the delighted West Indies captain, whose job might have been saved by the triumph, said: "If this is my last appearance in England it has been a great ride and it was phenomenal way to end it."
Defeat does not mean as much to England as victory does for West Indies. For the home side, it would have capped a golden season in which they had already won seven consecutive Test matches, but this loss, disappointing as it must have been, should not impede their progress. "In the bigger picture, they can be proud of themselves," said their captain, Michael Vaughan.
Marcus Trescothick scored his eighth one-day hundred for England to take them to a total which was defendable but a considerable distance from impregnable. Most of this England team, including poor, inexperienced Alex Wharf, from whose bowling the last 12 winning runs came in the 49th over, will be back. With one possible exception. Darren Gough bowled waywardly. Willpower alone cannot carry the old warrior much further.
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