Gough engineers England's triumph

Natwest Traingular Series Final: Stewart's big score secures man of series award but all-round effort provides key to victory

England have always tended to play their best one-day cricket when they have been high on efficiency and low on drama. Close matches that hinge on nerve and risk are not yet their forte, which is why, after Zimbabwe were stifled by a fine opening salvo from the bowlers, victory in the NatWest Triangular series final at Lord's on Saturday wasalways assured, secured by Alec Stewart's third big score insuccessive innings .

England have always tended to play their best one-day cricket when they have been high on efficiency and low on drama. Close matches that hinge on nerve and risk are not yet their forte, which is why, after Zimbabwe were stifled by a fine opening salvo from the bowlers, victory in the NatWest Triangular series final at Lord's on Saturday wasalways assured, secured by Alec Stewart's third big score insuccessive innings .

Stewart, whose 97 on his favourite stage followed scores of 101 and 100 not out, was man of both the final and the series. If few would have argued with the latter, after he had made 408 runs at an average of 81.6, the match award might have just as deservedly gone to Darren Gough, whose love of the big occasion saw him take 3 for 20.

It was Gough's early strikes, along with the awkward bounce and accuracy of Andrew Caddick and Alan Mullally, that checked Zimbabwe's ambition and forced them to settle for a total even the most ardent of rowdy supporters knew to be inadequate. Stewart might have won the headlines, but it has been England's bowlers, particularly their leading trio, that have provided the true teamwork.

It was largely on the back of their excellent work that the back-up bowlers, Craig White and Mark Ealham, were only occasionally under pressure. Both bowled well, with White's confidence and reverse swing combining to bring him 11 wickets and make him the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

In the six matches they completed, the highest score conceded against England was 210. Two reasons for this are the capricious nature of the white ball and the responsive pitches, which, Durham apart, have favoured ball over bat.

According to Gough, another factor was the specialist nature of England's attack, a change of tack from the theory a year or so back of packing the side with bits and pieces all-rounders.

"I don't believe in one-day specialists," said Gough. "If you have three out-and-out bowlers to do the job, not many teams will get 250 against you. I think Gough, Mullally and Caddick are a good unit. I'd like us to all be there for the next World Cup, but as we are all around 30, I don't know if we will be."

Gough loves one-day cricket and he has become a fine practitioner of its arts. Unlike batting technique, which can be compromised by one-day cricket, bowling tends to be enhanced by the constant search for variation needed in staying ahead of the batsman.

As if it were needed, after the off-break that castled Murray Goodwin at Lord's, Gough is apparently working on a second type of slower ball. In fact, the batsman read the deception, though the dryness of the pitch allowed it to grip and rip down the slope between bat and pad, a sequence that brought about that rare connection between conception and execution. Gough's efforts, as well as those of Caddick and Mullally, would not have been as effective without the support of the fielding, which apart from the spilling of some difficult chances, has been in the Aussie class.

As the coach, Duncan Fletcher must take most of the credit here. England's ring of steel, as well as the steely concentration of those bowling, certainly did for Alistair Campbell as he tried to force Mullally through the covers.

With Neil Johnson gone for 21, after chopping-on to Caddick, the Flowers added 89 with their customary hustle and bustle before White shaped one away from the elder Flower, Andy, and found the edge.

As captain of a side that has only belatedly done themselves justice, Andy admitted to feeling "let down" by the defections of Johnson and Goodwin to safer pastures. But if that is a huge setback, he must be gratified to see the improvements made by younger brother, Grant, after he topped both the batting and bowling averages for his country.

Restricted to 169, despite Grant Flower's unbeaten 53, Zimbabwe needed early wickets if an upset was to be perpetrated. Bowling manfully, as he always does whenever fit, Heath Streak did his best to fire a retort, removing Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Flintoff in his third over.

With Stewart finding the one-day form of his career, the double strike was never going to be much more than an inconvenience, and once Graeme Hick had found his footwork, and helped add 134 for the third wicket, the game was up.

Known by Gough as "Mr Health and Fitness," Stewart has shown that age has not dimmed him. But while the "Sanatogenarian" tag isperhaps overplayed, there is no doubt that, proving a point to selectors for dropping him last winter, has improved him as a player.

Yet chance, in the form of cracked digits to Hussain and Nick Knight, has also played a part, by giving him an opportunity to open the innings. Whether he could have made the same point in the middle-order is something the selectors must consider, not only for future one-day games, but the next Test match as well.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice