Flower engineers a day of delight for Zimbabweans

England 191-8 Zimbabwe 195-6 Zimbabwe win by 4 wickets
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The Independent Online

England's perceived progress as a one-day outfit came to an abrupt halt here yesterday when Michael Vaughan's team were comfortably beaten by a Zimbabwe side desperate to win some respect after almost two months of disappointment and ridicule in Great Britain.

When Grant Flower smashed Ashley Giles for four through extra-cover to score the winning runs the relief and jubilation on a packed Zimbabwe balcony was there for everyone to see. The lap of honour which followed showed just what it meant to the members of a team whose country is being torn further apart each day they are away.

England's desolate balcony, meanwhile, told a contrasting tale. Watching their side outplayed in every department cannot have been a pretty sight for the onlooking England coach, Duncan Fletcher, and the remaining members of the 15-man squad. Indeed, if the dressing room had curtains those inhabiting it could have been forgiven for drawing them long before the conclusion of this match, such was the abjectness of England.

As a young and relatively inexperienced side there is bound to be inconsistency in England's cricket for quite some time but this match highlighted just how much work is required before they can be regarded as an efficient one-day side. After Sunday's narrow victory over Pakistan many may have felt the only direction in which this side could go was up. However, after four games in charge Vaughan finds himself roughly in the position he was when he took the job.

This victory was Zimbabwe's first against England since July 2000, and only their second in this country against these opponents. It also brought an end to a nine-match losing streak against England. For this achievement Zimbabwe were indebted to Grant Flower, the younger brother of Andy who retired from international cricket at the conclusion of the World Cup after wearing a black arm-band to symbolise the death of democracy in Zimbabwe during the tournament. Playing in his 204th match the 32-year-old showed all his experience by taking his side home with four wickets in hand and two overs remaining in a perfectly timed run chase. At the end Flower fell four runs short of a deserved century but this chanceless innings will have given as much pleasure as any of his previous six one-day hundreds.

Flower arrived at the crease with his side in trouble on 1 for 2. Zimbabwe's plight became worse as they declined to 15 for 4 in the face of excellent opening spells from Darren Gough and the one-day debutant Richard Johnson. At this stage the 192 required for victory must have looked a long way off but Flower did not panic and instead invested time playing himself in. Only in the later stages of the match did he take the game to England.

Finding a partner who would stick with him was the challenge and this came in the unlikely figure of Stuart Matsikenyeri. Playing in only his fourth game the 20-year-old rode his luck on the way to 44 but it was his early aggression that took the initiative away from the home side. England dropped the diminutive right-hander twice, and missed the chance of running him out on three, but there were also plenty of confident strokes in his partnership of 96 with Flower.

When Matsikenyeri became Johnson's third victim England sniffed a chance but the Zimbabwe captain, Heath Streak, and Sean Ervine gave Flower the support he required to take their side home.

Earlier, England had failed to impress with the willow. After losing the toss the hosts were invited to bat on a surface that would not have looked out of place at the front of your house, such was its crazy-paved appearance. Batting was difficult, especially if the ball hit the ungrouted cracks, but Marcus Trescothick gave England their usual blistering start by smashing 18 runs off Andy Blignaut's second over.

Following the early loss of Vikram Solanki, Vaughan joined the Somerset opener at the crease and the pair took the total past 50 in the ninth over. This was as good as it got for England. In the 10th the captain top-edged a pull and in the following over Zimbabwe claimed the man they wanted - Trescothick. Edging a cut to Flower positioned at fifth slip, Trescothick became Streak's 200th victim in one-day cricket.

After the loss of Trescothick, the man responsible for England's two recent victories over Pakistan, the home side's batsmen did not appear to know how to play. Andrew Flintoff scored an atypical half-century, which took 84 balls but he, Robert Key and Anthony McGrath could not come to terms with Zimbabwe's spin bowlers who took as much pace off the ball as they could. Batting against such tactics requires good placement and a delicate touch, two skills which were desperately lacking in England's middle order. And it was the inability to score off Ray Price and Doug Marillier, who bowled 20 overs for the cost of just 50 runs, which prevented England from posting a more challenging total.


Zimbabwe won toss


M E Trescothick c Flower b Streak 38

50 min, 38 balls, 8 fours

V S Solanki c Ebrahim b Streak 1

10 min, 3 balls

*M P Vaughan c Taibu b Ervine 13

35 min, 22 balls, 2 fours

R W T Key b Price 11

57 min, 37 balls

A Flintoff c Blignaut b Marillier 53

103 min, 89 balls, 6 fours

A McGrath run out 14

35 min, 42 balls, 1 four

R Clarke b Blignaut 23

47 min, 39 balls, 1 four

ÝC M W Read c Brent b Blignaut 23

31 min, 32 balls, 1 four

R L Johnson not out 0

3 min, 0 balls

A F Giles not out 1

1 min, 1 ball

Extras (b2 lb2 w7 nb3) 14

Total (for 8, 190 mins, 50 overs) 191

Fall: 1-9 (Solanki), 2-56 (Vaughan), 3-57 (Trescothick), 4-104 (Key), 5-134 (McGrath), 6-144 (Flintoff), 7-190 (Read), 8-190 (Clarke).

Did not bat: D Gough.

Bowling: Streak 9-1-30-2 (w3) (7-1-17-2, 2-0-13-0; Blignaut 8-0-53-2 (nb2, w2) (4-0-38-0, 2-0-5-0, 2-0-10-2); Ervine 8-1-26-1 (nb1) (5-1-19-1, 3-0-7-0); Friend 1-0-14-0 (w1); Price 10-2-20-1: Marillier 10-0-30-1: Flower 4-0-14-0 (w1).

Progress: 50: 39 min, 51 balls. 15 overs score: 80-3. 100: 99 min, 136 balls. 150: 162 min, 261 balls.

Flintoff's 50: 97 min, 84 balls, 6 fours.


D A Marillier c Clarke b Gough 0

12 min, 5 balls

D D Ebrahim c Flintoff b Johnson 1

5 min, 7 balls

T J Friend c Clarke b Gough 5

15 min, 15 balls, 1 four

G W Flower not out 96

175 min, 152 balls, 10 fours

ÝT Taibu c Solanki b Johnson 4

17 min, 9 balls, 1 four

S Matsikenyeri c Clarke b Johnson 44

82 min, 55 balls, 3 fours, 1 six

*H H Streak run out 7

33 min, 21 balls

S M Ervine not out 26

31 min, 25 balls, 2 fours

Extras (lb1 w10 nb1) 12

Total (for 6, 188 mins, 48 overs) 195

Fall: 1-2 (Ebrahim), 2-3 (Marillier), 3-8 (Friend), 4-15 (Taibu), 5-111 (Matsikenyeri), 6-143 (Streak).

Did not bat: A M Blignaut, G B Brent, R W Price.

Bowling: Gough 10-2-40-2 (nb1, w4) (7-2-16-2, 3-0-24-0); Johnson 10-1-32-3 (7-1-22-2, 3-0-10-1); Flintoff 10-2-24-0 (w1) (6-1-14-0, 3-1-4-0, 1-0-6-0); Clarke 3-0-13-0 (1-0-4-0, 2-0-9-0); Giles 9-0-50-0 (7-0-35-0, 2-0-15-0); McGrath 6-0-35-0 (w5) (3-0-17-0, 3-0-18-0).

Progress: 15 overs score: 39-4. 50: 79 min, 114 balls. 100: 114 min, 176 balls. 150: 163 min, 252 balls.

Flower's 50: 105 min, 97 balls, 5 fours.


Umpires: S J A Taufel and P Willey.

TV replay umpire: N A Mallender.

Match Referee: C H Lloyd.