Joyce Guides England Home
England beat Kenya by seven wickets at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia to qualify for the World Cup Super Eight stage.
Ed Joyce played a leading role in setting up a reunion with his former Ireland team-mates after calming England's nerves to steer them into the last eight of the World Cup.
The Dublin-born left-hander has played the majority of his international cricket for the country of his birth before qualifying for England under the residential rule two years ago.
But he was genuinely excited about Ireland's achievement in reaching the Super Eight stage of the tournament and today ensured England overcame a potentially tricky challenge from Kenya to join them.
Joyce's fluent 75 off only 90 balls guided England away from a potentially tricky 52 for two and helped seal their seven-wicket win with 10 overs remaining chasing Kenya's modest 177 in a match reduced to 43 overs a side by heavy morning rain.
It means England start their Super Eight campaign against Ireland in Guyana next Friday.
His innings included one six and nine fours and showed a composure lacking in his team-mates and perhaps underlined why England's selectors chose him ahead of the more explosive Mal Loye for this tournament.
England had hoped to reach the last eight for the first time since 1996 in style by cruising past the 2003 World Cup semi-finalists to reach the latter stages.
Instead, they lost both captain Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell inside the first nine overs and had to rely on Joyce and Kevin Pietersen, who forged a 103-run stand, to safeguard against a mighty upset.
Both of England's early setbacks were perhaps brought on by over-confidence, with Vaughan attempting to cut a short delivery straight to gully and Bell being caught at mid-off trying to hit over the top.
But where they failed in their execution, Joyce succeeded and showed superb touch and composure throughout his innings with the Irish reunion his main incentive.
He was only denied the satisfaction of guiding England to victory by falling to Kenyan captain Steve Tikolo, whose fiercely-turning delivery somehow sneaked onto his stumps five overs before the finish.
Pietersen had been fortunate to keep Joyce company for as long as he did after being dropped by wicketkeeper Maurice Ouma off the first ball from left-arm spinner Hiren Varaiya.
Having been given that reprieve, Pietersen became even more determined to make Kenya pay and struck five fours and a six in his unbeaten 56 to ensure the outcome was never really in doubt after that.
Joyce had earlier been guilty of providing a reprieve of his own to Tikolo, whose determined 76 held the Kenyan innings together and prevented their complete capitulation, when he dropped him on 52.
Tikolo, playing in his third World Cup, hit eight fours in his 97 balls and batted well enough to earn a congratulatory pat from all-rounder Andrew Flintoff when he was bowled with two overs of their innings remaining by an inswinging yorker.
Flintoff was one of two changes to England's attack to prevent a repeat of the workmanlike display they delivered to beat lowly Canada last Sunday.
He replaced out-of-form off-spinning all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple while Sajid Mahmood took over from Liam Plunkett and Ravi Bopara retained his place after impressing as a fill-in for Flintoff against Canada, who had been dropped for his role in the late night drinking episode last weekend.
The changes were designed to give England a more ruthless edge and transform them into the type of side who clinically beat lesser opposition like Sri Lanka and New Zealand have demonstrated already in the tournament.
They seemed to have done the trick early on with James Anderson claiming two early wickets in a promising opening spell of 6-0-17-2 and Mahmood marking his World Cup debut with a wicket in his second spell.
With Paul Collingwood and Flintoff also claiming breakthroughs, Kenya were in some trouble at 112 for six with an expectant crowd getting ready to witness an England walkover.
But having failed to dismiss Canada the previous weekend, they almost did the same again with Tikolo superbly marshalling the innings until Flintoff ended his resistance with two overs remaining.
Jimmay Kamande kept his captain company and added a crucial 39 runs before being bowled by Collingwood, but England once again failed to look like potential World Cup champions – even against opposition of this standard.
Joyce failed to hold Tikolo's mis-timed chip at mid-on and Anderson made a mess of a run-out to give them a more testing target than they would have liked.
That was underlined by the loss of the two early wickets, but fortunately Joyce's determination to face Ireland in the Providence Stadium next week guided England past the finishing line.
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