England humiliate Bermuda

England’s World Cup preparations began in satisfactory style, as they followed a solid batting performance by routing minnows Bermuda for 45 in their first World Cup warm-up match.

Jamie Dalrymple was the star of the batting effort, making a punchy 76, while Jon Lewis took 3-7 as the World Cup novices wilted under the pressure of facing a top-level side. The one bright spot for Bermuda was the performance of their 20-stone left-arm spinner, Dwayne Leverock, as a spell of 2-32 threatened to take the wheels off England’s batting effort.

England began by making the controversial decision to leave out Andrew Strauss from their batting XI – the match having been staged as a 13-a-side affair – while Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen returned to the top order after injury. Vaughan made a fluent 18 before becoming the second man to fall, after Ed Joyce had been bowled by a peach from Kevin Hurdle for eight. England were 41-2 when Kevin Pietersen arrived at the crease, and Bermuda were beginning to sense the slightest inkling of an opening.

Any hopes they had of prising the door open, however, were dented when Pietersen and Bell combined to put on 71 for the third wicket. Each faced 55 balls, and each looked in equally good touch, as the two made 43 and 46 respectively. Bell was undone by a loose shot and a great catch from Bermuda captain Irvine Romaine, while Pietersen became Leverock’s second victim after Paul Collingwood had fallen for seven. The returning Hampshire man overbalanced after being beaten by Leverock’s prodigious turn, and was stumped by wicketkeeper Dean Minors.

Leverock’s physique leaves much to be desired – the nature of his day-to-day career as a police officer has led some to suggest he is perhaps a little too partial to the occasional doughnut – but his bowling today was accurate, probing and at times extremely threatening. One has to wonder how he would have fared in cricket had he been given the appropriate coaching and physical training in his youth – he is clearly a bowler of no little talent.

Andrew Flintoff’s innings of 24 was sprightly, containing one large six, but he became one of three late-overs victims for off-spinner Delyone Borden, holing out on the mid-wicket boundary. Jamie Dalrymple fell in similar fashion, but not before he had bashed two sixes in a well-made 76. His late order hustling will come in very handy for England during the forthcoming weeks.

After a lusty blow or two in the final overs from Sajid Mahmood, England’s total settled on a pleasing but not outstanding 286-8, putting them in a strong position to win the game against a Bermuda side not heavy on batting.

The minnows’ innings began with a little hope gifted to them, England’s new-ball bowlers struggling to find their rhythm at first – but it was not long before that was put right. Minors fell to a good high catch from Kevin Pietersen, while fellow opener Oliver Pitcher chipped one to Jon Lewis at mid-on. James Anderson’s second wicket came when Steven Outerbridge’s half-hearted defensive shot was brilliantly caught close in by Pietersen, and by this time the score was 23-3. Poor, but rectifiable, one thought.

It only got worse from there on in. Bermuda’s most experienced batsman, David Hemp, did his best to stem the tide, but was the only man to reach double figures as his team-mates did nothing more than waft at most deliveries they faced. Lewis’ spell of 3-7 ripped out their middle order – if not for a boundary from Lionel Cann in his third over, his figures would have been even better. He may have booked himself a spot in the XI for the first game of the tournament proper if he continues in this vein.

Two wickets from Andrew Flintoff, one from Mahmood and one from Monty Panesar wrapped up the Bermudan tail – Leverock, incidentally, did not deem batting worth the effort it would take, and watched the whole thing from the pavilion dressed in shorts and T-shirt. His team-mates will soon be wishing they could do the same if they receive another thrashing like this.

England 286-8 (50 overs)
Jamie Dalrymple 76, Ian Bell 46, Kevin Pietersen 43; Delyone Borden 3-71, Dwayne Leverock 2-32

England win by 241 runs

Bermuda 45 all out (22.2 overs)
David Hemp 11; Jon Lewis 3-7, Andrew Flintoff 2-3, James Anderson 2-8

CricketWeb Player of the Match – Jamie Dalrymple, 76 (79b, 3×4, 2×6)

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