Trego leads U19 triumph

A stunning 58 by Sri Lanka's captain, Kaushalya Weeraratne, took his side to a nail-biting finish, but it was not enough to stop England taking the NatWest Under-19 one-day series 2-0. With three runs needed, and several overs in hand, he drove Peter Trego straight to long-on, who was immediately engulfed by grateful team-mates. The over before, Weeraratne had been "bowled" by a low ball, so England could have been forgiven for thinking the game had slipped away. All credit to them that they never gave up.

A stunning 58 by Sri Lanka's captain, Kaushalya Weeraratne, took his side to a nail-biting finish, but it was not enough to stop England taking the NatWest Under-19 one-day series 2-0. With three runs needed, and several overs in hand, he drove Peter Trego straight to long-on, who was immediately engulfed by grateful team-mates. The over before, Weeraratne had been "bowled" by a low ball, so England could have been forgiven for thinking the game had slipped away. All credit to them that they never gave up.

These young cricketers might not know it, but more than England's future rests on their young shoulders. When their seniors get it wrong - more often than not in recent years - it's the performance of the Under-19s to which the beleaguered ECB, the Minister for Sport and a pensioned-off Prime Minister turn for consolation. Even though, it is just as well they did not see England batting yesterday.

Had it not been for the Somerset partnership of Trego and Carl Gazzard, their innings could have been downright embarrassing.

But not as embarrassing as the start by Sri Lanka's opening bowler, Prabath Nissanka. Two wides in his opening over were followed by six in his second and he was soon replaced.

Having survived a stumping chance on 10, Trego took his long, yellow handle to Sri Lanka's spinners, who had stifled England's middle order. He gave the off-spinner Muthumudalige Pushpakumara an agricultural heave in the region of midwicket. Next over, Jehan Mubarak's off-spin was carted over square leg, and Trego and Gazzard were on course to an unbeaten stand of 62 in as many balls.

They took England past 200, which had seemed unlikely as the earlier batsmen forsook the plot with shaky running between the wicket and even shakier shot selection. A slow pitch with uncertain bounce did not help strokeplay.

John Sadler and Nicky Peng, the openers, both gave easy catches to midwicket. Peng's sweep-cum-slog, one ball after reaching his second 50 in two days, was as irresponsible as it was ugly. Ian Bell, advancing to chip the spin, was caught and bowled by Ranil Dhammika, and Gary Pratt hit a leading edge to cover, trying to work the ball against the spin.

Michael Carberry was run out, failing to run his bat along the ground as he raced to beat a flat throw from midwicket. It was an elementary error, and it left England 128 for 5 in the 33rd over. Next over, James Dalrymple carved Pushpa-kumara to backward point, and the same bowler accounted for Kabir Ali, bowled playing back when the low bounce should have warned him to play forward.

In fact, a feature of the England innings was the way their batsmen looked to score either side of the wicket, rather than hitting straight. Maybe they did not trust the pitch, but Trego showed what an adventurous approach can do.

Any doubts that Trego was on song were dispelled when he took the new ball and had Kausbal Lokuarachchi lbw with his first delivery. It was just the start England needed. Their heads went up, and when Sadler caught Malintha Gajanayake low at square leg off a firm flick, their disappointing batting faded.

There was still the dangerman, Ian Daniel, who lit up Sophia Gardens on Friday, but yesterday the unstoppable Trego doused his fire just as he was fanning his embers. This didn't stop the Sri Lankans from going for their shots and, with England bowling and fielding aggressively tight, the cricket at last matched the brilliance of a sunny afternoon right to the last. Fittingly, Trego was once again there when it mattered.

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