Strauss hurries England home

West Indies 239-9 England 136-1: Captain rallies his beleaguered tourists with crucial contribution as victory sees series tied at 2-2 with one game to play

Somehow England regrouped yesterday. It took a little help from the weather and the umpires but mostly they helped themselves. After the wretchedness of Friday which brought the team to a new low the tourists dug deep – they probably needed an excavator – and produced a measured display to win the fourth one-day international against the West Indies

The series stands at 2-2 with all to play for in St Lucia on Friday, if that much is ever at stake in this kind of competition. West Indies made a serviceable if hardly imposing 239 for nine from their 50 overs when rain intervened to leave England needing 135 from 20 overs under Duckworth Lewis. Accelerating at the appropriate moments and crucially keeping wickets in hand they managed to reach the target with nine balls to spare, having lost only one wicket. Their captain Andrew Strauss was the main contributor as he has been for most of this tour. His unbeaten 79 from 61 balls was a model of a batsman playing to his strengths and a tribute to cussedness.

"The ball is coming out of the middle of the bat well," said Strauss. "As captain it's up to me to lead from the front and the more I do that, the more matches we will win." One more on Friday would do for the time being.

England arrived at Kensington Oval in a beleaguered state, approaching the end of a long, losing trip and having just suffered one of their most painful defeats. Suspicions were being whispered that their best batsman and former captain is at odds with the rest of the team, they are without a full-time coach. England were desperate.

It was vital for England to contain their rampant opposition. That made it a risk to invite the West Indies to bat, but equally it was all the tourists could do. If there was to be any movement it was likely to be in the early stages. There was indeed movement but almost all of it came from West Indian bats propelling the ball at pace to the boundary. With Chris Gayle striking another five sixes at will it did not augur well for a touring squad that was under the closest scrutiny.

To England's credit they did not panic, they waited for a breach and when it came they managed a cluster of wickets. Dwayne Bravo's classy innings gave West Indies more than they might have accrued at 145 for six but England at least could be satisfied that they were firmly in the game.

In Dimitri Mascarenhas they had the bowler of the match. Niggling away just outside off stump, changing his pace, he was never dominated, and it was a bonus that he removed the exceedingly dangerous Shiv Chanderpaul.

Kevin Pietersen suffered a back spasm while bowling but there was evidence that the spasm was receding as quickly as it appeared and he should be available for the decider. The team's other marquee player, Andrew Flintoff, injured his left thumb in attempting to take a return catch. An initial scan revealed no fracture but with an important match ahead England's preparation is unlikely to be smooth. It has been that kind of winter.

It was probably in England's favour that two hours of unseasonal rain reduced the number of overs they had to bat. On the other hand they are rubbish in conventional Twenty20 cricket. Strauss and, to a lesser extent, Ravi Bopara were excellent. They needed a flying start and for the first time this series they left the ground. Strauss hit fours on both sides of the wicket and in the 14th over, wonder of wonders, struck a six, only England's second of the series compared to the West Indies' 23. He had one stroke of good fortune when he appeared to have been caught behind by Ramdin, attempting to run a ball to third man. But Strauss was uncertain whether it had carried and so was the umpire, Steve Bucknor. The square leg umpire Steve Davis could not confirm either and Bucknor signalled for assistance. It was his final match of an outstanding career and characteristic that, till the end, he was determined to be fair.

Strauss saw it through. Bopara, who had joined him in what amounted to a six hitting spree by England's standards with a towering effort into the mid-wicket stand, perished going for another. Not even England could blow it from here. With nine balls left Strauss nurdled his ninth four and they were home. It was not quite a conventional win but convention is not England's forte.

Bridgetown scoreboard

England won toss

West Indies Innings

C H Gayle c Prior b Broad ......... 46

L M P Simmons run out ......... 29

R R Sarwan b Flintoff ......... 6

S Chanderpaul c Prior b Mascarenhas ......... 27

D Ramdin c Flintoff b Mascarenhas ......... 26

D J Bravo c Sub b Broad ......... 69

K A Pollard c Flintoff b Mascarenhas ......... 0

D J G Sammy b Broad ......... 6

N O Miller not out ......... 10

F H Edwards c Collingwood b Anderson ......... 0

L S Baker not out ......... 11

Extras w7 nb2 ......... 9

Total (50 overs) ......... 239

Fall: 1-72 2-76 3-83 4-126 5-143 6-145 7-173 8-224 9-225

Bowling: Anderson 10-1-41-1; Broad 10-0-62-3; Flintoff 9-0-58-1; Harmison 8-0-42-0; Mascarenhas 10-1-26-3; Pietersen 0.5-0-0-0; Shah 1.1-0-6-0; Collingwood 1-0-4-0.

West Indies Innings

*A J Strauss not out ......... 79

R S Bopara c Miller b Pollard ......... 35

M J Prior not out......... 14

Total (for 1; 18.3 overs) ......... 136

Fall: 1-108

Did not bat: K P Pietersen, O A Shah, P D Collingwood, A Flintoff, A D Mascerenhas, S C J Broad, S J Harmison, J M Anderson

Bowling: Baker 2-0-24-0; Edwards 3-0-24-0; Bravo 3.3-0-22-0; Sammy 4-0-31-0; Pollard 4-0-20-1; Miller 2-0-12-0

Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and S J Davis (Aus).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Voices
Björt Ólafsdóttir is a member of Iceland's Bright Future party
voicesIceland's Björt Ólafsdóttir on her decision to take part in #FreeTheNipple
Life and Style
The Clove Club will charge customers when they book
food + drink
News
Lapping it up: a woman feeds felines at a cat café in Japan
newsThe vast majority of cat and dog 'wet foods' contain items not specified on the tin, study finds
Sport
Andros Townsend and Paul Merson
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat