Smith's assault fires West Indies revival and restores faith

<preform>England 281-8 West Indies 284-5 <i>W Indies win by five wickets<i></preform>
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The Independent Online

In a commotion of furious strokeplay, England were presented with a vision of the future. They can be pretty sure that it works, and it may not necessarily be the last time that they wilt at its sight.

In a commotion of furious strokeplay, England were presented with a vision of the future. They can be pretty sure that it works, and it may not necessarily be the last time that they wilt at its sight.

West Indies pummelled their path to victory in the fifth match of the Cable & Wireless one-day series on Saturday with an imaginative assault that seemed to define the idea of going for broke. The home side perhaps had no option, since by this stage of England's tour they had nothing to lose but the match, almost certainly the series and yet more of their supporters' faith.

By the whirlwind end it represented more or a less complete resurrection no matter what happens from here on. Dwayne Smith, a spectacularly uncomplicated novice, provided the main impetus with a surge of attacking play to which there could be no rational response. Smith, 20, had come to the wicket to replace Brian Lara.

There were barely 12 overs left for West Indies to acquire 92 runs. It was not acquisition they had in mind, but annexation. Smith careered to 44 in 28 balls and struck four mighty sixes. With Ramnaresh Sarwan similarly unfettered at the other end - his unbeaten 73 came from 77 balls - they had 12 balls left when they levelled the series at 1-1.

It was exactly what was required after an eternity of waiting for the rain to stop in the Caribbean. In Guyana, in Trinidad and in Grenada it pelted down. It was doing likewise in St Lucia when the sides arrived but it stopped in time not only to get the game on but to show a grand new stadium in all its glory.

England would not agree - and who can blame them - but what was also required was a West Indies win, otherwise a saturated series would have been driven down the plug-hole, sun or no sun.

It was a match that showed how much both teams have to learn. The West Indies were soundly beaten in South Africa earlier in the year, they had lost to England in the abbreviated match in Guyana when they ought to have won.

England probably thought they should not have lost the game. For long enough, they looked to have done enough to win. The fact that Marcus Trescothick scores a century is no longer a pointer to defeat. True, England had lost the first three matches in which he reached three figures but they had won the last three.

His seventh hundred put him on a par with David Gower on the England all-time list and one short of Graham Gooch. It was typically Trescothick, full of bludgeons rather than caresses and none the poorer for that. He and Andrew Flintoff shared a biffing stand of 110. Had either or both stayed in - Flintoff was held on the boundary, Trescothick could not make his ground in trying to imitate what was meant to be a dash for a single - England's score would have gone beyond 300.

Trescothick's 130 spanned 137 balls and included two sixes and 12 fours.

At some 19 short, there was always the prospect of a West Indian win. A couple of smart catches from Paul Collingwood, flying to his left, and Chris Read, scurrying for a top edge, kept them ahead. When Steve Harmison was brought back and nobbled a watchful Lara by taking his outside edge with one that bounced, not for the first time on this tour, the balance appeared to have tilted irrevocably.

So it had. Smith sauntered casually in; the long legs might have been taking him for a stroll on St Lucia's beaches. He had already given notice again that he is a fieldsman to be feared. His throw from deep breaks the sound barrier. But his batting had been in storage since his century in his maiden Test when he unleashed a range of pyrotechnics against South Africa.

England had grievous trouble in fiddling their fifth bowler and it may be somewhat of a luxury to use Rikki Clarke as a specialist No 8. Sarwan took apart the hapless left-arm spin of Ian Blackwell, Smith took on Harmison without compunction. Dwayne Bravo joined in by the end. West Indies will not do this every time, but they will do it again and again.