Gough and Read make triumphant comebacks

West Indies 156-5 v England 157-8 <i>England win by two wickets</i>
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The wicketkeeper who was dropped by England's Test team for his batting failures yesterday propelled them to victory in a blaze of buccaneering strokes in the first one-day international. Offers to help Chris Read in the search for the egg on the faces of the team management were immediately forthcoming.

The wicketkeeper who was dropped by England's Test team for his batting failures yesterday propelled them to victory in a blaze of buccaneering strokes in the first one-day international. Offers to help Chris Read in the search for the egg on the faces of the team management were immediately forthcoming.

Just as the game looked all over for England, the diminutive Read came in and drilled 27 runs from 14 balls, including three sixes down the ground. He was out before he could finish the job but his message had already been dispatched and attached to it were knobs.

The match was then finished by a delighted Darren Gough, who, himself, had been left out of the side in the early part of the winter. England won a match reduced to 30 overs because of heavy rain by two wickets with three balls left.

This is a new England side still taking shape full of batsmen who bowl a bit and nobody knowing whether they do either quite well enough. Most of the batsmen, with one notable exception, got in but could not go on. West Indies had one who went on for as long as it mattered, the veteran Shivanarine Chanderpaul, who played an exotically improvised and effective innings of 84.

There were points to savour for England, not the least of them involving their returning warrior, Gough. Throughout his career Gough has invariably backed up his tendency to talk the talk by walking the walk. Before his latest incarnation, however, there was just a hint that it might be all bluster and no action. A dodgy right knee, which is threatening the world supplies of ice packs, is not necessarily an ideal appendage for a 33-year-old fast bowler wishing to play international cricket.

It took Gough 16 balls to allay many of the doubts yesterday, and on reflection the only surprise was that he took so many. He always did know a good story. Having taken the new ball on his comeback for England when play eventually got under way, his line was immediately sound. It was all too much for Chris Gayle, the world's number-one ranked one-day batsman.

Given no width and nothing to drive, he went in search of something to attack - attacking shots are a drug to Gayle - and launched an expansive drive at the fourth ball of Gough's third over. The ball hit the seam, beat the shot, hit the stumps and Gough was back at the age of 33.

Whether he will remain in that position is still to be confirmed but it was the start that he and England would have craved. It laid down a marker that helped England to an early advantage and although Chanderpaul did his utmost to erase it, the pitch was drying out under a Georgetown sun that had come along in the nick of time after two days of heavy rain.

Chanderpaul's effervescent 96-ball innings was notable for its improvised effects. His regular stroke involved a walk across his stumps, which flirted with a suicide, followed by delicately-timed nudges, glances, dabs and stabs to leg. This manoeuvre brought him most of his 11 fours. The crowd loved it. Not only was it cheeky but Sarwan is one of them - albeit from Berbice.

That there was a start at all was a miracle of modern groundsmanship. As early as last Friday, the secretary of the Guyanese Cricket Board confidently asserted that there was no chance of the game taking place until today at the earliest. The ground staff, aided by government helicopters that act as a kind of megawatt hairdryer on cricket pitches (all helicopters, that is, not only Guyanese government ones), worked throughout the weekend to ensure that the game would not be easily postponed. The transformation required was in the category of lake to desert.

It is entirely possible that both the captains might have felt the ground staff had wasted their time. Ramnaresh Sarwan was leading the West Indies for the first time in the absence of the injured Brian Lara.

It was a big moment. Sarwan is Guyanese and was cheered all the way to the wicket. Here, his compatriots felt, was a man who might follow Rohan Kanhai and Clive Lloyd as a mighty captain of the West Indies. Two balls later, Sarwan was departing to stunned silence, leg before to one from Andrew Flintoff that slanted in, and giving the bowler his second wicket in three balls.

It was hardly a better day for Sarwan's counterpart, Michael Vaughan. As one of the world's great Test opening batsmen, Vaughan had decided that it really was about time he did it in the short version of the game. He lasted one more ball than Sarwan, getting a firm edge to a ball from Merv Dillon that went away.


England won the toss

Progress: Wet outfield delayed start until 1.00pm. Match reduced to 30 overs a side.

C H Gayle b Gough 2
S Chanderpaul c Clarke b Gough 84
R L Powell c and b Flintoff 10
R R Sarwan lbw b Flintoff 0
D R Smith c Flintoff b Clarke 16
S C Joseph not out 23
R D Jacobs not out 2
Extras (b1, lb7, w10, nb1) 19
Total (for 5, 136min, 30overs) 156

Fall: 1-7 (Gayle), 2-25 (Powell), 3-25 (Sarwan), 4-64 (Smith), 5-151 (Chanderpaul).

Did not bat: D J J Bravo, M Dillon, R Rampaul, C D Collymore.

Bowling: Gough 6-0-22-2 (w2) (4-0-5-1 2-0-17-1), Harmison 6-0-34-0 (w2) (4-0-13-0 1-0-15-0 1-0-6-0), Kirtley 6-0-28-0 (nb1,w2) (4-0-14-0 1-0-9-0 1-0-5-0), Flintoff 6-2-22-2 (w1) (4-2-6-2 2-0-16-0), Clarke 2-0-16-1 (w1), Trescothick 3-0-9-0 (w2), Collingwood 1-0-17-0 (one spell each).

Nine overs score: 25-1. 50: 81min, 101 balls. 100: 105min, 134 balls. 150: 130min, 173 balls.

M E Trescothick b Bravo 26
M P Vaughan c Jacobs b Dillon 0
A J Strauss b Bravo 29
A Flintoff c Jacobs b Gayle 8
P D Collingwood c Smith b Gayle 10
I D Blackwell b Rampaul 27
R Clarke run out (Jacobs-Gayle) 1
C M W Read b Gayle 27
D Gough not out 9
S J Harmison not out 0
Extras (b0, lb4, w14, nb2, pens0) 20
Total (for 8, 142min, 29.3overs) 157

Fall: 1-1 (Vaughan), 2-60 (Strauss), 3-75 (Flintoff), 4-75 (Trescothick), 5-108 (Collingwood), 6-119 (Blackwell), 7-120 (Clarke), 8-154 (Read).

Did not bat: R J Kirtley.

Bowling: Dillon 6-0-35-1 (nb1,w2) (4-0-22-1 2-0-13-0), Collymore 6-1-35-0 (w5) (4-1-8-0 2-0-27-0), Bravo 6-0-31-2 (w3) (one spell), Rampaul 6-0-32-1 (nb1) (4-0-18-0 2-0-14-1), Gayle 5.3-0-20-3 (w4) (5-0-18-2 0.3-0-2-1).

Nine overs score: 36-1. 50: 57min, 75 balls. 100: 108min, 134 balls. 150: 137min, 175 balls.

Umpires: Aleem Dar and E A Nicholls.

TV replay umpire: B Morgan.

Match referee: J J Crowe.

Man of the Match: C M W Read