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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable