Bermuda Caught Short
England skittled Bermuda for just 45 en route to a crushing 241-run victory in their World Cup warm-up match in St Vincent.
England completed their expected emphatic victory over Bermuda after gaining useful practice for the majority of their squad in the opening warm-up match for the World Cup.
Restricted to only two practice games before the start of the tournament – this one and Friday's match against Australia – England were keen to get useful time in the middle from an Arnos Vale encounter in which both sides were able to use 13 players.
They achieved that with most of their batsmen getting out into the middle and progressing to a competitive 286 for eight despite a mini collapse before their seamers tore through Bermuda to dismiss them for 45 and seal a 241-run win with more than 27 overs remaining.
Perhaps the only concern for coach Duncan Fletcher was the ease in which heavyweight spinner Dwayne Leverock cut through their middle order, requiring Jamie Dalrymple to hit a determined 76 and guide England to respectability.
But that apart, Fletcher will have been delighted with the run-out and in particular the growing competition for places among the seamers as they chase a place in the starting line-up for the opening match against New Zealand on March 16.
With only two of the four seamers expected to start in St Lucia alongside all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, they were all battling to impress.
Every one of them claimed a wicket with Liam Plunkett starting Bermuda's collapse by having opener Dean Minors caught at mid-off by Kevin Pietersen, who had dropped the same batsman two overs earlier, in the sixth over.
That opened the door for Lancashire seamer James Anderson, returning to action after flying home early from Australia as a precaution against a suspected back strain, to claim two wickets in as many overs.
Then Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis, who was aiming to prove his fitness after ankle and Achilles injuries forced his return from Down Under, weighed in with three further wickets as Bermuda's resistance folded.
Lancashire pair Sajid Mahmood and Flintoff also claimed wickets apiece and there was even time for Monty Panesar to pitch in with a short bowl and a late victim.
England had earlier progressed to a competitive total largely due to Dalrymple's controlled 79-ball innings which regained the momentum after 19-stone policeman Leverock had claimed wickets in successive overs.
Having decided to overlook Andrew Strauss, who had struggled throughout the Commonwealth Bank series in Australia, England suffered a stuttering start with openers Ed Joyce and captain Michael Vaughan both falling inside the first seven overs.
Ian Bell and Pietersen forged an important 71-run partnership to rebuild the innings, but both missed out on their half-centuries as the middle order stuttered worryingly.
Bell, dropped on 36 in the deep, was brilliantly caught at short mid-wicket attempting another slog-pull to begin a mini collapse of three wickets in five overs.
Left-arm spinner Leverock, who bears a stronger resemblance to a sumo wrestler than an elite sportsman, may not look like a serious cricketer.
But he had enough about him to bamboozle England's middle order with his left-arm spin, firstly inducing Paul Collingwood into edging a turning delivery behind.
He also struck again in his next over, this time dismissing Pietersen for 43 by again beating him with the turn and giving wicketkeeper Minors a celebrated stumping.
Leverock finished with impressive figures of two for 32 from his 10 overs and said: "It was the first time I have played against a team like this.
"I settled into a rhythm and when I settled I took wickets. The wicket was turning a little bit."
Flintoff added a quickfire 36, including a straight six, before holing out in the deep and it was left for Dalrymple to guide England towards respectability.
Picked primarily as a back-up spinner to Panesar, his ability to score lower order runs could be crucial to England's chances of success during the tournament.
Having withstood the challenge from Ashley Giles to seal his place in the World Cup squad, Dalrymple virtually ensured his selection against New Zealand with a spirited innings which included three fours and two sixes.
He looked on course for his first century in England colours but fell with three overs remaining holing out in the deep having helped add a crucial 66 with wicketkeeper Paul Nixon.
His contribution gave England a welcome fillip and their seamers capped off a satisfying performance by increasing the competition for places during Bermuda's reply with only Glamorgan captain David Hemp reaching double figures.
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