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England run ragged by Lambert and Lara

By Stephen Thorpe in Port of Spain, Trinidad

9 April 1998

ENGLAND suffered another crushing blow to morale and duly conceded the Cable and Wireless one-day series by an emphatic 4-1 margin after losing the final match at Queens Park by 57 runs with 4.1 overs remaining yesterday.

Not even pride remained intact as the West Indies flayed a daunting 302 for five, a record score for these matches here, after the medium-pace attack laboured once more. Only Angus Fraser and Robert Croft, who bowled with good line and drift, escaped the onslaught.

England were later well ahead of the asking rate while Nick Knight was in residence, but when the Warwickshire opener was run out for 65 by a second lightning pick up and throw from Neil McGarrell, the Guyanese debutante, reality set in.

Knight timed the ball well off his legs with eight fours in an excellent 68-ball effort after a tired looking Alec Stewart was caught off another debutante all-rounder, Carl Tuckett.

Ben Hollioake was the first victim of McGarrell's lethal left arm, then Graeme Hick pulled Tuckett to square leg before Adam Hollioake, who had a day he will want to forget, missed McGarrell's arm ball. Mark Ramprakash kept the flag flying but, having holed out for 51, England were sunk, leaving only Fraser's whirlwind 30 to delay the inevitable. McGarrell soon supplied it with another stunning direct hit.

Earlier, England's normally reliable out-cricket wilted, too, on a cloudless, blisteringly hot day.

Clayton Lambert, the chunky Guyanese left-hander, has been a revelation since a surprise recall for the Barbados Test, and his shuffling, ungainly stance belies solid workmanship, a penchant for driving on the up and, latterly, a startling ingenuity which earned him 119 off 124 balls with 17 fours, a five and a six.

A third-wicket partnership of 185 in 31 overs with Brian Lara, who eventually struck 10 fours himself in an innings of 93, took the game away from England.

England enjoyed a stroke of luck in the second over after West Indies won the toss on a firm, well grassed strip, removing Philo Wallace for a duck when Doug Brown deflected Lambert's drive on to the stumps at the non-striker's end.

Brown was immediately driven for three fours for his pains by Stuart Williams, who then greeted Hollioake junior with a massive six pulled over mid-wicket before Stewart, reunited with the gloves to allow Ramprakash's recall, held him one-handed off an attempted glide to third man.

Lara sauntered in to the sort of welcome reserved for visiting emperors, which is exactly his status here, though he caused apoplexy earlier by intimating he might not feature due to pressing commitments elsewhere. A cut knee in St Vincent added fuel to the notion that civil war would have ensued had he backed out and 'the Prince' had the good sense to realise it.

Most heavy scorers in one-day cricket are adept at the running glide and none more than Lara, though Lambert matched him in this department before launching a series of massive improvised blows to all parts. Adam Holliaoke was mown for 19 in one over, then carnage followed in the next after Ramprakash floored a towering catch at deep mid-wicket off Lambert, the captain helping him to a maiden one-day hundred with four over-throws.

While Lara's knock was another of regal splendour, he is in hot water again over an alleged association with the leader of a fanatical sect, Abu Bakr, of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, who orchestrated a bloody coup here eight years ago. Lara stopped near their headquarters recently to sign autographs and was then advised by Bakr on leadership and the need to stop drinking and carousing.

The captain, who should be believed, contends he was only there by chance and angrily brushed aside any reference to the incident. ``I am going to England a very proud man,'' he said, ``and hoping to carry our winning spirit to the Warwickshire dressing room.''

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 09 Apr1998 - 11:14