Specials – Memories from the NatWest Tri-Series, Part 2

  Having looked at the first three editions of the NatWest Tri-Series last week, we move on to summarise the latter half of the tournament’s history, comprising of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 editions.

2003

  Zimbabwe and South Africa, co-hosts of the World Cup that had concluded three months earlier, were the tourists. England had forfeited their World Cup match against Zimbabwe on political grounds, a decision which probably cost them a place in the next round. This was destined to be Zimbabwe’s last series in England.

  England were caught napping in the first game at Trent Bridge where a tidy Zimbabwean attack kept them to just 191/8. Zimbabwe overcame a dreadful start of 15/4 to clinch a four-wicket win with two overs to spare, thanks to Grant Flower’s mettlesome 96*. England bounced back with a commanding six-wicket win over South Africa at the Oval.

  Chasing a total of 264/6 (Jacques Kallis scoring 107), openers Marcus Trescothick (114*) and Vikram Solanki (106) galloped to a 200-run stand and the win was sealed in the 46th over. Another Kallis century (125) followed at Canterbury, this time not in vain as Zimbabwe fell 46 short of their target of 273.

  The second round began with a rained-off game between England and Zimbabwe at Headingley, following which South Africa nosed ahead with a seven-wicket defeat of the hosts. An unbroken stand of 145 between Kallis (82*) and Jacques Rudolph (71*) ensured that a modest 224 was chased down with 15 balls left. The Proteas then subdued Zimbabwe by nine wickets at Canterbury, chasing 175.

  Bristol saw the English pace attack master the conditions expertly as Zimbabwe were shot out for 92, Darren Gough the pick with 4/26. Heath Streak (4/21) reduced England to 25/4, but Flintoff’s rapid 47* calmed nerves to ensure a six-wicket win. This result knocked Zimbabwe out of contention.

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     Andrew Flintoff celebrates Shaun Pollock’s dismissal in the 2003 NatWest Series final at Lord’s. He was named player of the tournament (source – tribuneindia.com)

  England’s bowlers continued their good form at Edgbaston, limiting South Africa to 198/9 with James Anderson claiming 4/38. Michael Vaughan’s 83 rescued England from 30/3, guiding them to a four-wicket win in the 39th over. Zimbabwe ended their tour with another disappointing seven-wicket loss to South Africa, after Makhaya Ntini’s 4/45 restricted them to 173/8.

  The final was awfully lopsided. South Africa slipped to 43/4 in the 12th over after being put in, and never recovered. The hosts’ pace unit proved to be too much as no batsman managed to reach 20, the final total being 107 in 32.1 overs. England lost Trescothick early, but Solanki’s 50 was enough for a seven-wicket win with 178 balls to spare. Flintoff was named player of the series.

2004

  New Zealand made their first appearance in the tournament while the West Indies returned after four years. The first two ODIs failed to produce a result due to rain, before the first completed match at Trent Bridge saw the Windies – who were later to be whitewashed in the Tests – win in a canter. England slumped from 102/3 to 147 all out, losing by seven wickets with 106 balls to spare.

  England’s batting went from bad to worse in their next game against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street. James Franklin (5/42) and Jacob Oram ran riot, skittling the hosts for just 101. No batsman reached even 15. The Black Caps achieved an easy seven-wicket win in the 18th over. A struggling England then faced the West Indies at Headingley.

  The pace attack rose to the occasion and helped bundle the West Indies out for 159. Marcus Trescothick’s brisk 55 at the top ensured a comfortable seven-wicket win in just 22 overs. The New Zealand bowlers continued to impress at Cardiff, where the West Indies could manage only 216 after being 180/3 at one stage. Brian Lara made 58 while opening the innings.

  New Zealand’s reply revolved around an unbeaten 75 from Hamish Marshall, which guided them to a five-wicket win with four overs to spare. They followed this up with another convincing display at Bristol, defeating England by six wickets. England rode on Andrew Flintoff’s 106 to post 237/7 after having been reduced to 57/3.

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     Daniel Vettori starred with a haul of 5/30 in the 2004 NatWest Series final, enabling New Zealand to beat the West Indies by 107 runs (source – stuff.co.nz)

  Captain Stephen Fleming, later named player of the series, starred in the chase, scoring a solid 99 and sharing century stands with Nathan Astle for the first wicket and with Marshall for the second. Though unlucky to miss his century, his effort was enough to seal a six-wicket win in the 48th over and also a spot in the final.

  In a must-win game at Lord’s, England were 54/3 when Flintoff joined Andrew Strauss. They added 226 for the fourth wicket – Flintoff scoring 123 in 104 balls, Strauss 100. The total of 285/7 however did not prove enough as Chris Gayle scored 132*, his second-wicket stand with Ramnaresh Sarwan (89) fetching 187. The target was reached with seven wickets and five balls in the bank.

  New Zealand took on the West Indies in the final. Fleming (67) and Astle (57) put on 120 for the first wicket to lay a strong base. Craig McMillan (52) held the middle order despite the last seven wickets falling for 49; the Black Caps bowled out for 266 in the final over. The Windies suffered a collapse from 98/2 to 159 all out, thanks to Daniel Vettori who spun a web to finish with 5/30.

2005

  The focus in this year was well and truly on the Ashes, but the last edition of the NatWest Tri-Series set the tone for the epic Test series that followed. The tournament featured one of the biggest ODI upsets and the final was a tantalising affair. The presence of lightweights Bangladesh, on their first tour England, added novelty to the summer.

  England proved to be too strong for the Tigers in the opening game at the Oval. Steve Harmison’s 4/39 kept Bangladesh to 190, which was overhauled by openers Trescothick (100*) and Strauss (82*) in less than 25 overs. Bangladesh however were undeterred and went on to script a fairytale against World Cup champions Australia in their next match at Cardiff.

  Australia were reduced to 9/2 before Damien Martyn (77) and Michael Clarke revived the innings. The bowlers kept it tight as Australia were limited to 249/5. Bangladesh began slowly and were struggling at 72/3 in the 21st over when captain Habibul Bashar joined young Mohammad Ashraful. Their 130-run stand turned the game around, with Ashraful going on to reach a memorable 100.

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     Mohammad Ashraful celebrates his hundred that helped Bangladesh stun Australia at Cardiff in 2005 (source – foxsports.com.au/news limited)

  Australia were stunned by five wickets with four balls to spare in what was an apt case of Goliath slayed by David. They suffered another defeat the next day at Bristol, where Harmison (5/33) restricted them to 252/9 (Michael Hussey 84). Kevin Pietersen then smashed 91* off 65 balls to pave the way for England’s three-wicket win in the 48th over.

  The next round began with England posting a record 391/4 against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge. Strauss (152) and Paul Collingwood (112*) shared in a 210-run stand for the fourth wicket. Ashraful (94 in 52 balls) tried his best in reply, but England romped to a 168-run win, thanks to Collingwood (6/31) and Chris Tremlett (4/32).

  Under-pressure Australia now faced England at Chester-le-Street. Their total of 266/5 (Andrew Symonds 73) proved to be 57 runs too strong for the hosts, who never recovered from 6/3. Ricky Ponting’s men exacted revenge against Bangladesh too, with a ten-wicket win at Old Trafford thanks to Symonds’ 5/18 that ensured the target was limited to 140.

  England were back in business with a five-wicket win over Bangladesh at Headingley. A total of 208/7 (Flintoff 4/29) was surpassed with ease, with Strauss scoring 98. The third match between England and Australia ended in a no result due to rain before Australia overcame the jitters of 83/3 at Canterbury to go past Bangladesh’s 250/8 and win by six wickets, Clarke scoring 80*.

  The final had plenty of ebbs and flows. Australia raced to 50/0 in seven overs after being put in, before imploding to 93/5. Hussey’s 62* was the only score past 30 as his side were bowled out for 196 in the 49th over, Flintoff and Harmison taking three wickets each. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee scythed through England’s batting and at 33/5 in the tenth over, it seemed as if the end would be quick.

  Collingwood (53) and Geraint Jones (71) had other ideas, as they brought England back with a 116-run stand for the sixth wicket. The battle entered the last over with England 187/8. With three needed off two balls, McGrath removed Darren Gough before two leg byes were squeezed off the final ball to leave the match tied and the trophy shared. Symonds was named the player of the tournament.

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