Vaughan looks for added bonus in hunt for final berth

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The Independent Online

England's exit from the 2003 World Cup gave Michael Vaughan an insight into what it is like when the fate of your side lies in the hands of others. Then England's qualification for the Super Six stage of the tournament relied on Pakistan beating Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. On that occasion rain intervened. The match was abandoned, Zimbabwe collected the points they needed to go through and England went out of the World Cup.

England's exit from the 2003 World Cup gave Michael Vaughan an insight into what it is like when the fate of your side lies in the hands of others. Then England's qualification for the Super Six stage of the tournament relied on Pakistan beating Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. On that occasion rain intervened. The match was abandoned, Zimbabwe collected the points they needed to go through and England went out of the World Cup.

Fortunately, the destiny of Vaughan's side in the NatWest series is still in their hands, but today's match against the West Indies at Lord's is their last chance to ensure that it is they and not the West Indies who play against New Zealand in Saturday's final at the Rose Bowl.

England can guarantee their place in the final through beating the West Indies and claiming a bonus point, which would make Thursday's match between Brian Lara's side and New Zealand irrelevant. Vaughan's side also know that if they lose they are out. But an England victory without a bonus point or an abandoned game means that all eyes will turn to Southampton.

Bonus points are an Australian invention. It was felt that too many limited-over matches reached the stage when the result became inevitable and the match ended as an event.

In an effort to create a situation where there was always something to play for - a game within a game - the rules were amended so that the winning side could claim an extra point should they beat their opponents by a certain amount. And, in the same way, the losers could hold on to a bonus point if they made the winners work harder for victory.

In each game of the NatWest series six points are there to be taken. Five are awarded for a victory and the sixth comes via a bonus point. Should the game be abandoned or tied three points are awarded to each side.

The concept is fairly easy. Say side A bats first and scores 200 in their allocated 50 overs, they would need to restrict the team batting second (side B) to less than 80 per cent of their total - 161 runs - to obtain a bonus point. For side B to acquire their bonus point they would have to pass side A's total in less than 80 per cent of the allocated overs - 40.1 overs.

Despite all these connotations England's first objective is simple - they have to win. And it is only when they are sure of this that they can begin looking for that elusive point.

Vaughan's side should be confident. The West Indies are a far more vulnerable and inconsistent team than England and they rely too much on Lara.

If the West Indies captain clicks into gear there is little anybody can do about it, but England will take encouragement from the fact that these innings do not come around as often in one-day cricket as they do in the longer version of the game.

In Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison, England have three players capable of winning matches and this gives them the edge. England did little wrong against New Zealand on Sunday and a similar performance with the same side should take them to Lord's.

ENGLAND (from): *M P Vaughan (Yorkshire), M E Trescothick (Somerset), R W T Key (Kent), A J Strauss (Middlesex), A Flintoff (Lancashire), P D Collingwood (Durham), Ý G O Jones (Kent), S I Mahmood (Lancashire), D Gough (Essex), S J Harmison (Durham), J M Anderson (Lancashire), A F Giles (Warwickshire), I D Blackwell (Somerset), A McGrath (Yorkshire).

WEST INDIES (from): *B C Lara, C H Gayle, R R Sarwan, S Chanderpaul, D J J Bravo, R L Powell, D R Smith, D S Smith, ÝR D Jacobs or ÝC S Baugh, I D R Bradshaw, T L Best, J J C Lawson.

Umpires: RE Koertzen (SA) and J W Lloyds.

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