England toil for second victory

Wednesday 19 February 2003 01:00

England completed their second win of the World Cup today by 55 runs over Namibia - but they were made to panic along the way.

The African minnows put up a determined chase of an improbable 273 for victory at St George's Park, the part-timers given impetus by Jan-Berry Burger's powerful strokeplay.

When he finally fell for 85, off 86 deliveries, the relief among the England fielders was tangible - Paul Collingwood taking the catch at full length in the covers from a Craig White off-cutter and throwing the ball skywards before being mobbed by team-mates.

Burger threatened to heap the greatest of cricketing embarrassments on an England side missing injured captain Nasser Hussain, having hauled the Namibians to 139 for two in the 30th over.

His brute strength was central to most of his 10 fours and a majestic six over deep mid-wicket off White.

With the 21-year-old opener in full flow and grey clouds looming, Namibia remained ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis scoring rate from the time 25 overs had been completed to his departure.

In fact, with the light dimming they dipped below and above the rate required for victory up until the 38th over when Danie Keulder became the fourth wicket of the innings.

James Anderson's dismissal of opener Stephan Swanepoel provided an initial breakthrough and Andrew Flintoff found success with his fourth delivery - but otherwise it proved a largely frustrating afternoon in Port Elizabeth.

Twenty-year-old Lancashire paceman Anderson - man of the match in Sunday's win over Holland in East London - had Swanepoel picked up by Michael Vaughan at midwicket from a full-length delivery.

But they might have been left to rue a missed chance when Burger had made 17, substitute Matthew Hoggard - on for Ian Blackwell - failing to hold on at square leg off Andrew Caddick.

From the moment Louis Burger - one of three Burgers in the side - spooned a top-edge pull back to Flintoff in the 12th over, Namibia went on the offensive.Keulder, a towering right-hander, ensured Namibia kept up with the rate, opening his shoulders to good effect until he gambled on two to Marcus Trescothick at deep point and lost by inches.

Next ball, White snaked one through Gerrie Snyman to knock back the off-stump and Namibia fell further behind the ask.

Thereafter, the tail fell away but once again England failed to dismiss one of the world's lesser lights - as they had on Sunday against Holland - as Namibia closed on 217 for nine.

Although England suffered the ignominy of being dismissed by a bunch of amateurs selected from five clubs spread around a country of 1.8million population, their 272 enabled the chance of boosting the net run-rate by bowling the Namibians out quickly.

Given that Pakistan dismissed them for just 84, having taken the first eight wickets in just 50 legitimate deliveries, they may have held out hope of knocking them over for a similar total.

However, by the same stage today, the side coached by Warwickshire's Dougie Brown were 31 for one.

England's innings, undermined by a rash of loose strokes, was provided with substance by stand-in captain Alec Stewart and Marcus Trescothick, who both registered half-centuries.

After both mis-hit against the Namibian spinners, Collingwood stabilised affairs and White provided some late impetus with 35 from just 29 balls at number eight.

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