CT: England - Mission accomplished

Sunday, September 12 2004

Paul Collingwood's display of hitting guided England to 299-7 at Edgbaston after rain cut yesterday's play short, before Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison took three wickets each to dismiss Zimbabwe cheaply at Edgbaston.

Yesterday's play at Edgbaston ended after 38 overs of England's innings on 198-5. Zimbabwe had high hopes of polishing off England's lower order and tail for below 230, whilst England were looking towards pushing on to 300 as Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones strode out to the middle.

Casual onlookers whose interest in cricket was solely stimulated by this summer's Flintoff would have been forgiven in thinking that the Lancastrian dynamo was facing, in the way that the Durham man tucked into some loose Zimbabwean bowling. Douglas Hondo was despatched for consecutive sixes for the second time in the match, after Geraint Jones was unluckily bowled by the dreadlocked paceman.

Kent's Papua New Guinean-born keeper did well to block a yorker, but then saw the ball spin back onto his stumps, to bring Ashley Giles to the crease and trigger the start of the Collingwood show. As Giles scampered singles, Collingwood opened up, also clubbing Tinashe Panyangara - whose 10 overs went for 86 - over the midwicket fence as the two men added 75 in just 7 overs for the seventh wicket before Giles was run out by Ed Rainsford for 23, scored at more than a run a ball. Alex Wharf then took two off each of the last two balls as England fell one short of the 300 mark and Collingwood remained unbeaten on 80*, with three fours and three sixes.

Zimbabwe's reply began in circumspect fashion, with both Brendan Taylor and Stuart Matsikenyeri playing and missing more than they made contact with the ball as extras top-scored for a considerable length of time at the top of the innings. Taylor was first to fall as he shuffled across the crease to a straight delivery from veteran Darren Gough to be trapped in front of the stumps. The Essex paceman then picked up his second wicket as Stuart Matsikenyeri, playing his first truly aggressive shot of the innings, slapped the ball straight to England's safest fielder, Paul Collingwood at backward point.

Numbers four and five, Dion Ebrahim and Mark Vermeulen, perished in similar fashion in the space of four deliveries, both caught behind off Steve Harmison as the Zimbabweans subsided to 26 for 4. Ebrahim's may have touched his sleeve rather than the bat on the way through, but there was no doubt about Vermeulen's dismissal, as he drove without foot movement.

Vusi Sibanda and Tatenda Taibu then fought back as Sibanda clipped Harmison for six with the wind over fine leg before Andrew Flintoff brought one back through Sibanda's late-closing gate, but Zimbabwe continued in a positive vain with Taibu and Elton Chigumbura playing positively as the all-rounder struck three fours off one Giles over, before his captain joined in the fun with two sixes off Alex Wharf.

The partnership was broken in unusual fashion when the Zimbabwean keeper-batsman tried to sweep Ashley Giles, but overbalanced and fell onto leg stump, and was fortunate not to injure himself in the process. Chigumbura refused to lie down and pulled the hapless Wharf for another six, but the return of Harmison spelt the beginning of the Zimbabwean end as Panyangara's miserable match continued, chopping onto his own stumps for one. Andy Flintoff took the eighth and ninth wickets to fall, Prosper Utseya's miscued hook shot skying to Gough and Trescothick catching Doug Hondo one-handed at first slip without scoring.

Rainsford was the last Zimbabwean to fall as his tentative prod to Ashley Giles found the edge of his bat on its way into Geraint Jones gloves with Zimbabwe short of even half of England's tally. Zimbabwe take on Sri Lanka at the Oval on Tuesday before what's likely to be the deciding match in the group between the hosts and Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl next Friday.

It was a match that was never likely to scale the heights of adrenaline, class or style - and so it proved as there was little but the occasional lusty sixes to brighten the sparse crowd's day. Unfortunately, it'll be a sight all too common in the coming years of International cricket unless the ICC acts over the Zanu-PF interference in Zimbabwean cricket.

England 299-7
PD Collingwood, 80, VS Solanki 62
EC Rainsford 2-43, DT Hondo 2-66

Zimbabwe 147
E Chigumbura 42*, T Taibu 40
A Flintoff 3-11, SJ Harmison 3-29

England (2pts) beat Zimbabwe (0pts) by 152 runs

CricketWeb Player of the Match: Paul Collingwood (England, 93 balls, 3x4, 3x6)

Posted by Neil