West Indies 281
England win by 25 runs
The 1000th limited-overs international took place here yesterday - the kind of figure you tend to associate with episodes of The Archers, or Coronation Street - and there doubtless won't be too long a delay before they are blowing out the candles on the 2000th anniversary cake. Or, more appropriately, the have-your-cake-and-eat-it cake.
However, an even more mind-boggling statistic came along to mark yesterday's event, in that the West Indies have now played in 297 of these things, and never before have they managed a total to match England's 306 for 5.
Perhaps even more of a surprise, at least to those who had witnessed England at Trent Bridge bearing an uncanny resemblance to the team who couldn't even find a route past Australia's second team in last winter's one-day jamboree, England managed (just) to avoid joining Zimbabwe as the only previous side to have set such a total and then failed to defend it. Their victory by 25 runs proves that while there is much that is predictable about one-day cricket, nothing is more predictable than its unpredictability.
The stage is now set for the 1001st one-day international at Lord's tomorrow to decide the destination of the Texaco Trophy, even if the prize for the team who wins it will be to be rendered as instantly forgotten as the team who loses it. This is the perennial fate for a competition that, in culinary terms, is the equivalent of tucking into the jelly and ice cream before the main meal.
What might have happened had the coin fallen the other way is impossible to guess at, but it was none the less ironic that England would also have inserted the opposition had they won the toss. The Oval pitch is the best batting strip in the country, the outfield fast and vast, and there is scarcely a total below 400 that fielding sides can feel wholly confident of defending.
The bedrock of England's total was the second-wicket liaison of 144 in 28 overs, although 28 overs in Michael Atherton's company was not something that Graeme Hick would have regarded as potentially harmonious after his captain declared on him when he was on 98 in the Sydney Test match last winter.
It was only after becoming captain that Atherton cemented himself in England's one-day side, after a period in which the selectors deluded themselves into believing that this type of cricket was all about slogging fours and sixes. It is, of course, a touch more cerebral than a game of rounders, and Atherton, not for the first time, proved the point by providing a platform for more dashing blades.
The partnership would have realised only 36 had Brian Lara not dropped Hick at slip when he made 14, and had Lara caught it, it would also have spared Harold Bird the first of two embarrassing gaffes when they were finally parted at 177 in the 38th over.
Dickie has made his name on getting hairline decisions spot on, so it was slightly odd to see him gesticulating for the TV replay umpire when Carl Hooper's throw hit the stumps with Hick, at a conservative estimate, about three yards out of his ground. What made it even more amusing is that Hick himself had already decided to watch the replay on the dressing room TV, and was halfway up the pavilion steps while Dickie was still calling for celluloid evidence.
If this incident persuaded Bird to trust his own eyesight on future adjudications, it turned out to be another dicky decision. Neil Fairbrother was on 29 when Curtly Ambrose kicked the ball on to the stumps, and while Dickie was busy signalling not out, television viewers were being treated to replay evidence of Fairbrother having been run out by a dozen inches. In terms of a sharp eye, yesterday was more Harold of Hastings than Harold of Barnsley.
Happily, Dickie was spared being at the business end when Graham Thorpe's innings was ended by a breathtaking 80-yard arrow from Lara at deep backward square leg, and Fairbrother's reprieve resulted in one of his brilliant one-day cameos.
It did not take long, however, for England to discover that they were far from fireproof, and with Lara in full cry, the West Indies had cantered to 68 for 1 from only 12 overs when Atherton whistled up Lancashire's Peter Martin on his international debut.
Martin's fifth ball swung late enough to turn Sherwin Campbell's legside whip into a leading-edge catch to mid-on, Jimmy Adams was lbw shuffling across the crease to his 12th delivery, and Martin left an even more indelible imprint on the game when he brought one back to Lara and rattled the off stump.
In the light of some spectacular late hitting from Junior Murray, whose 86 from 78 balls induced a nasty bout of perspiration rash among Atherton's troops, Martin's burst of 3 for 5 in 17 balls turned out to be even more crucial. Martin, preferred to Angus Fraser, was essentially Raymond Illingworth's pick, although had he been unearthed in Lord Ted's day, it would doubtless have been a case of "Who can forget Martin Peters?"
Henry Blofeld, Tony Cozier, page 44
TRENT BRIDGE SCOREBOARD
(West Indies won toss)
*M A Atherton b Benjamin 92
(161 min, 118 balls, 10 fours)
A J Stewart c Murray b Bishop 16
(38 min, 37 balls, 3 fours)
G A Hick run out (Hooper) 66
(112 min, 81 balls, 6 fours)
G P Thorpe run out (Lara) 26
(39 min, 28 balls, 2 fours)
N H Fairbrother not out 61
(67 min, 52 balls, 5 fours, 1 six)
M R Ramprakash c Adams b Hooper 16
(30 min, 16 balls, 1 six)
D Gough not out 8
(5 min, 6 balls, 1 four)
Extras (b6,lb5,w7,nb3) 21
Total (for 5, 229 min, 55 overs) 306
Fall: 1-33 (Stewart), 2-177 (Hick), 3-188 (Atherton), 4-243 (Thorpe), 5-295 (Ramprakash).
Did not bat: P A J DeFreitas, D G Cork, S D Udal, P J Martin.
Bowling: Ambrose 10-1-47-0 (6nb,1w) (6-1-19-0 2-0-9-0 2-0-19-0); Walsh 5.2-0-17-0 (4-0-13-0 1.2-0-4-0); Bishop 11-0-60-1 (nb2,w1) (4-0-18-1 5- 0-24-0 2-0-18-0); Benjamin 10.4-0-55-1 (w4) (4.4-0-19-0 4-0-21-1 2-0-15- 0); Arthurton 8-0-48-0 (4-0-21-0 1-0-8-0 3-0-19-0), Hooper 10-0-68-1 (w1) (5-0-36-0 4-0-24-0 1-0-8-1).
Progress: 50: 68 min, 95 balls. 100: 102 min, 148 balls. 150: 132 min, 200 balls. Lunch: 159-1 (Atherton 76, Hick 59) 34 overs. 200 in 168 min, 251 balls. 250: 202 min, 304 balls. 300: 226 min, 330 balls. Innings closed 3.14pm.
Atherton's 50: 102 min, 66 balls, 6 fours.
Hick's 50: 87 min, 63 balls, 4 fours.
Fairbrother's 50: 55 min, 44 balls, 4 fours, 1 six.
C L Hooper c Atherton b Gough 17
(18 min, 21 balls, 4 fours)
S L Campbell c Thorpe b Martin 20
(51 min, 35 balls, 2 fours, 1 six)
B C Lara b Martin 39
(52 min, 36 balls, 6 fours)
J C Adams lbw b Martin 2
(8 min, 8 balls)
*R B Richardson c and b Cork 15
(39 min, 28 balls, 1 four)
K L T Arthurton run out (Cork) 39
(66 min, 65 balls, 4 fours)
J R Murray run out (Fairbrother) 86
(109 min, 77 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes)
W K M Benjamin c Ramprakash b DeFreitas 17
(26 min, 15 balls, 1 six)
I R Bishop run out (Udal-Cork) 18
(25 min, 16 balls, 1 four)
C E L Ambrose b Martin 10
(12 min, 13 balls, 1 four)
C A Walsh not out 5
(3 min, 4 balls, 1 four)
Extras (lb6,w7) 13
Total (211 min, 53 overs) 281
Fall: 1-25 (Hooper), 2-69 (Campbell), 3-77 (Adams), 4-88 (Lara), 5-114 (Richardson), 6-166 (Arthurton), 7-213 (Benjamin), 8-261 (Bishop), 9-275 (Ambrose), 10-281 (Murray).
Bowling: Gough 11-0-62-1 (6-0-34-1 3-0-16-0 2-0-12-0), DeFreitas 10-0- 73-1 (3-0-18-0 7-0-55-1), Cork 11-0-56-1 (w1) (2-0-11-0 6-0-28-1 3-0-17- 0), Udal 11-0-40-0 (w1) (one spell), Martin 10-1-44-4 (w1) (7-1-18-3 2- 0-20-0 1-0-6-1).
Progress: 50: 35 min, 53 balls. 100: 84 min, 132 balls. Tea: 105-4 (Richardson 9, Arthurton 11) 25 overs. 150: 131 min, 212 balls. 200: 162 min, 256 balls. 250:n 187 min, 287 balls. Innings closed 7.20pm.
Murray's 50: 60 min, 53 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes.
Umpires: H D Bird and R Palmer.