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Lambert And Lara Punish England

The Nation

April 09 1998

THE FINAL crushing rites were inflicted yesterday on an England team which came to the Caribbean boasting of convincing recent success against the West Indies in the shortened version of the game.

Demoralised England, playing merely to regain lost pride and to avoid a fourth successive defeat, lost the fifth and last Cable & Wireless One-Day International by 57 runs.

As was the case for each of the four preceding matches, Queen's Park Oval was engulfed by uncontrollable celebrations, especially when Clayton Lambert and Brian Lara were pulverising the England attack.

Lambert, capping off a sensational return to international cricket after a seven-year hiatus, arrived at his maiden century in One-Day Internationals with a series of mighty boundaries, most of them powerfully struck through the on-side, but there were a few played through the off-side with just as much authority.

Lara, strangely bogged down at the start of his innings, emerged to play with near magical brilliance in cracking 93 off 105 balls after West Indies had the opportunity to bat first for the only time in the series.

The two Ls lashed 185 in 30.1 overs for the third wicket and a target of 303 was always going to be a demanding one for the visitors who were as good as beaten in the 21st over when Nick Knight, their most impressive batsman of the series, was fourth out in the 21st over with the total on 109.

West Indies, their fielding lifted by safe catching in the deep and three magnificent run outs by debutant Neil McGarrell, restricted England to 245, but they would have won by almost 100 runs had they not allowed the last-wicket pair to add 44.

Traditionalists normally talk about the happy hour, but that was extended to three hours yesterday. From the time Lambert pulled Angus Fraser to the backward square boundary in the first over of the innings, to when Carl Hooper off-drove the penultimate ball to bring up the West Indies' 300, there was merriment all the way through the innings.

England enjoyed a slice of luck when Philo Wallace was run out without scoring from a deflection off bowler Dougie Brown in the second over, but there was little good fortune for them afterwards.

Stuart Williams, in good touch, promised more than his 27 that included three boundaries in over off Brown. Trying to run a ball down to third man, he was plucked out by wicket-keeper Alec Stewart, who tumbled to his right to haul in a neat catch.

As Lara stepped onto the ground he has known since he was a boy, there were wild, frenzied celebrations, but there was mainly a hush for the first 45 minutes in which he spent 36 balls scratching around for nine runs.

Things were so tight that just 21 runs were scored in ten overs after the fielding restrictions were eased up, but once Lara settled in, he joined Lambert in belting the ball around to the delight of the more than 20 000 fans.

The last 15 overs produced the most fireworks with 146 runs coming in all directions.

Most of the damage was reserved for England captain Adam Hollioake who was battered for 33 runs in two overs of misery. It was a spell in which Lara reached his half-century and Lambert clobbered a gigantic six over mid-wicket in which the ball cleared the cycle track and went into the Errol Dos Santos Stand.

England, their fielding unusually ragged, dropped both Lara and Lambert in the 80s and they allowed Lambert five overthrows that carried him to 97.

Once he reached his century, he clobbered another six onto the cycle track, but then edged a swing to the 'keeper after making 119 off 124 balls with 17 fours and two sixes.

Lara, his 13th century in limited-overs internationals seemingly close at hand, then inexplicably tried to swing Brown through the on-side and was bowled for 93 that included ten fours.

Carl Hooper, with a brisk 35 off 20 balls, ensured that the total passed 300.

England were off to an enterprising start, having reached 60 after ten overs, but they were pegged back by debutant Carl Tuckett's two wickets and the sharp work of McGarrell who ran out Knight, Ben Hollioake and last man Angus Fraser.

The left-handed Knight again played with plenty freedom and assurance and had made 65 off 67 balls when McGarrell pounced on a ball in the covers and quickly relayed it to the bowler's end for Laurie Williams to break the stumps.

Williams, another of the One-Day specialists, kept things tight in eight overs that cost 32.

Once the top half was gone, Mark Ramprakash put up some fight with a solid half-century, but by then everyone knew there would only be one winner.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 11 Apr1998 - 11:37