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  • West Indies v England, 1st ODI

Lumb hundred in vain as England collapse again

The Report by David Hopps
February 28, 2014
Michael Lumb became just the second England batsman to make a century on his ODI debut © Getty Images
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West Indies 269 for 6 (Bravo 87*, Sammy 61, Simmons 65, Bresnan 3-68) beat England 254 for 6 (Lumb 106, Moeen 44, Narine 2-36) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Not since Dennis Amiss against Australia more than 40 years ago had an England batsman made a century on his ODI debut. Michael Lumb achieved that in Antigua, an England Twenty20 specialist given an unexpected opportunity at the age of 34. No matter, you might say, West Indies still won, and deservedly so. But if it did not quite smack of the new era that England had trumpeted, it was quite a story all the same.

Lumb was only in the squad because England have decided to use this West Indies tour, ODIs and T20s both, as a prelude for World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. He only played because Alex Hales was injured. When he was dismissed for 106, coming down the pitch to loft Ravi Rampaul to cover, England got all in a tizz over the remaining task of 90 in 78 balls with seven wickets left and succumbed by 15 runs. The turgid surface did not make it a breeze, but Lumb provided an invitation for victory that was not taken.

Sunil Narine's spin-bowling wiles did the damage - his 2 for 36 more decisive than it sounds. Lumb read him, not everybody did. Moeen Ali's smoothly-made 44 on debut faltered against Narine and finished with a tame chip to long on against Dwayne Smith. Joe Root and Ben Stokes both fell to Narine via malfunctioning sweep shots. In Ravi Bopara's hands, on his 100th ODI at only 28, the challenge died.

On the balcony, England's coach, Ashley Giles, scribbled furiously, who knows what? "Can't pick Narine," was surely there somewhere: perhaps even underlined.

There was even drama for Lumb on 99. Darren Sammy, whose buccaneering 61 from 36 balls, alongside Dwayne Bravo's judicious 87 not out, had allowed West Indies to post a substantial target of 270, stood at the top of his run, clutching his chest. As the physio checked him out, questions abounded in the crowd: back spasm, heart trouble? Sammy recovered enough to remind West Indies' fielders to be on the single for the next ball, but Lumb got one through cover and celebrated in the mistaken belief that the match was heading England's way.

This has endlessly been trumpeted as the start of a new era for England, but as new eras go, to watch the ball disappearing into orbit as West Indies smacked 85 from the last five overs on a turgid pitch - a surface on which England's finale became so inhibited - ensured that the new era would have a false start. The smiles, if a good place to start the post-KP era, are superficial; England's inner psyche remains that of a beaten side.

It is time for England to draw a line, many had urged, as they tried to come to terms with life after Kevin Pietersen. Some, perhaps influenced by the Caribbean scenery, had called for lines to be drawn in the sand.

Logicians preferred straight lines, Blondie fans wanted parallel lines, teachers naturally insisted upon 100 lines by start of school tomorrow and one could imagine that all over Antigua, council workers were drawing white lines, levying parking fines on unsuspecting motorists and pleading that England had told them to do it.

But the most controversial lines were on the pitch. The original pitch markings have long been superseded for additional guidelines for judging wides in one-day cricket, but as Tim Bresnan discovered when he was twice wided in conceding 16 off an over, even bowling within those is no longer regarded as acceptable.

England, who are searching for a survival mechanism at the death, were tactically bowling wide of off stump at that stage so it was imperative, rather than petulant, that Broad, skippering England in this series, sought an explanation from the umpire Marais Erasmus. He heard nothing to comfort him. That said, West Indies' late hitting was spectacular and overwhelmingly won what has increasingly become a loaded tactical battle between bat and ball. And West Indies suffered in similar fashion later.

If Broad's reliance on Bresnan went awry in mildly debatable fashion, his decision to risk Root's offspin so late in the innings was also a dubious choice. Root's first eight overs had relinquished only 24, with the wicket of Kieron Powell to boot, but Sammy delightedly heaved him for two sixes and two fours as his ninth over cost 23.

England gave the new ball to Root and, instead of a solitary over, which used to be his lot playing Twenty20 for Yorkshire, he stayed on for five overs, conceded only 13 runs, and picked up the wicket of Powell courtesy of an outstanding reaction catch at short extra by Chris Jordan, who dived to snatch the ball an inch off the ground.

Smith fell tamely when James Tredwell became the second offspinner to make an impact, the ball popping into the leg side off bat and pad whereupon Jos Buttler scuttled around from behind the stumps to take a catch upheld on review.

Bresnan also intervened, bowling Kirk Edwards off his pads, another indication of a lack of pace in the pitch. It was a promising opportunity for Moeen to purvey some debut offspin and he, too, took a wicket in only his second over, having Darren Bravo lbw; Bravo's attempt to overturn the decision by recourse to the third umpire coming to naught.

West Indies recovery began with a hard-working stand of 108 in 25 overs between Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons, who escaped a tough stumping opportunity on 30, and who had made 65 from 94 balls when he was deceived by a slower ball from Bresnan. What had been witnessed was a normal recovery, but the unfettered assault that followed in the closing overs will concern England far more. 1-0 down: two to play.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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