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The Electronic Telegraph England v Kenya Group A
Michael Henderson - 18 May 1999

England cruise home as Gough makes his mark

England (204-1) bt Kenya (203) by 9 wickets

To beat Kenya yesterday, England needed the weather's blessing, and found it was in no mood to confer benediction. An hour and a half was lost at the start to overnight rain, and murky skies hung over the St Lawrence ground until light showers returned shortly before six o'clock, leading to the loss of a further 43 minutes. A miserable day ended at 7.52pm, and England will be glad they do not have to come back today.

They have now won both their World Cup matches, and lost only three wickets in doing so. At Lord's last Friday the big Sri Lankan wickets fell to Alan Mullally, and the runs went to Alec Stewart and Graeme Hick. It was Darren Gough's turn to excel with the ball yesterday, as he went past 100 wickets in one-day internationals, and there were more runs for Hick, and some for Nasser Hussain. Neither will find them more easy to collect.

Escape to victory: England's Nasser Hussain, centre, runs off the field after England's defeat of Kenya

The game ended in a flurry of attacking strokes as England won with 11 overs to spare. This was as a close to a cakewalk as any game is in a World Cup. England must now turn their attention to South Africa at the Oval on Saturday. They will agree that this was not a reliable preparation.

Kenya tried their hardest in conditions as foreign to them as they could possibly be. Their batting is more capable than their bowling, though they deserved a few marks for sticking at it in the drizzle, when other teams would have been looking to get off the field.

Part of the reason the umpires were so keen to stay out in drizzle and poor light lay in the fact that they allowed a break of 54 minutes between innings when it should have been no more than 35 - an extraordinary oversight after the frustration of the morning.

England made one change to the team who opened the World Cup with an eight-wicket victory against Sri Lanka. Robert Croft, the Glamorgan off-spinner, replaced Adam Hollioake, the Surrey all-rounder, although the reason given, that Hick had picked up a slight shoulder injury, was unconvincing as Hick is, at best, an occasional spin bowler.

Once again Ian Austin was given the new ball with Gough, and he took a wicket in his second over when Kennedy Otieno, trying to cut a ball that was too close to his body for the intended stroke, edged a catch to Graham Thorpe at first slip. It was Thorpe's fourth catch in the competition, and he was to add a run-out to end the Kenya innings.

In the next 23 overs Ravindu Shah and Steve Tikolo added 100. Tikolo, the man of the match, was the more expansive player, going to his fifty from 70 balls, and looking a handsome, well-organised batsman. Shah was within a boundary hit of a half century when Stewart recalled Gough, and his best bowler responded as he would have liked.

Shah, driving at a ball that came back into him, offered a catch off the inside edge to Stewart, diving to his left. In his next over Gough upset Maurice Odumbe with a couple of short-pitched balls before spearing in one of full length to bowl him. It was the way a fast bowler might have liked to reach 100 wickets in one-day internationals.

When Neil Fairbrother, swooping at short fine leg to hit the stumps at the far end, ran out Hitesh Modi, it was clear Tikolo was being left to fight his own battle. Croft bowled Alpesh Vadher between his legs before Tikolo lofted Mark Ealham to mid-on, where Gough positioned himself comfortably under a skier.

The innings had been robbed of its purpose, and it now meandered to a close, though Thomas Odoyo picked up Mullally for six over square leg, and was to end up undefeated on 34 when Thorpe ran out Martin Suji. Gough hit the stumps twice, and Ealham once, as they showed the benefit of bowling straight and full.

England began discreetly before Odoyo trimmed Stewart's off stump. That brought in Hick, who looked hungry for runs, in contrast to Hussain, who was obeying orders to stay there. Hussain picked up a bit later, moving to his fifty from 87 balls, 12 more than Hick. It was a good deal less exciting than the appearance of the streaker who sprinted the length of the field, defeating Kent's much-vaunted team of specialist streaker 'spotters'.

The England players on the dressing-room balcony marked each batsman's landmark by standing up and applauding vigorously. By all means, lads, stand side by side, but keep a sense of proportion - and keep your powder dry for engagements that will prove more testing.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk