Bopara stars as England cruise to victory

The prize on this occasion is somewhat less remarkable, but with the defence of England’s World Twenty20 crown now less than a year away, England’s youth-orientated team outclassed their transient opponents and confirmed the impression laid out by their stand-in captain, Graeme Swann, that many of these same names are likely to be in the starting line-up in Sri Lanka next September.

England were made to battle for control of this contest, but not for very long. In front of a raucous crowd of 17,417, the West Indies openers Dwayne Smith and Johnson Charles battered 42 runs in the first four overs, including 22 from a startled Tim Bresnan, who could find no response as Smith cleared his front leg for a series of baseball mows over deep midwicket.

However, Swann’s response was to take the pace off the ball against an agricultural line-up that possessed plenty men capable of clearing the ropes, but few who were quite as adept at working the gaps. Samit Patel produced a ripper to clip the top of Smith’s off stump, before Marlon Samuels – the recognised class act in their batting line-up – was bowled through the gate by a beauty from Swann.

Thereafter, West Indies’ innings lacked direction. Charles battered Patel for one more six over long-on but then perished to his very next ball as he miscued an identical swipe to Steven Finn, and the only other man to reach double figures was Hyatt, who ruined Swann’s excellent figures by slapping his final over for 17, but was seventh out for 28, as Bopara produced an excellent change-up in pace to bowl him neck and crop.


Jade Dernbach’s variations impressed at the death, as he conceded 20 runs in four overs of typically inventive slower balls and yorkers, but it was Bopara’s wicket-to-wicket discipline that really scuppered the innings. West Indies lost two wickets in two balls in back-to-back Bopara overs, as his stump-rattling line and length was allied to two sharp pieces of fielding – first when Christopher Barnwell was brilliantly snaffled by Kieswetter, one-handed to his right, and then when Andre Russell was run out by a flat throw from the boundary from Ben Stokes.

Devendra Bishoo was also run out, in his case for a first-ball duck as Jos Buttler pinged down his stumps from gully, moments after Dernbach had nailed the keeper Dervin Christian with a perfectly directed yorker. But fittingly, it was Bopara who wrapped up the innings with two balls left unused, as West Indies’ captain Darren Sammy attempted a mow over midwicket and picked out Jonny Bairstow with a top-edge.

In the field, Sammy was uninspired, with his first ball of the innings a gimme that Hales carved through point for four, and his team was largely insipid. Bishoo let an early boundary roll through his hands at extra cover, and England were able to bash along to 52 for 0 in the six-over Powerplay without even a hint of spin in the offing.

Bishoo, the ICC Emerging Player of the Year, finally emerged in the eighth over, when England were already halfway to their target, but his tidy spell of 0 for 28 in four overs could not transform a one-sided canter. Hales brought up his first fifty for England from an impressive 36 balls, including one monstered six over backward square leg off Russell, while Kieswetter was scarcely any more tardy in taking 43 balls for his own milestone.

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