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By Mark Mitchener
2336: As England parade the trophy around the ground, that's it from TMS, and that's it from us as well - it has been a marathon series but it wouldn't have been the same without your company. Cricket-wise, we'll be back on track with England for the start of the home series against West Indies in a month's time - after previewing the county season in full as it begins next week.
If Formula 1 or football takes your fancy, we'll have plenty of live text action for you over the weekend - but on behalf of all of us in the cricket crew, thanks again for sticking with us and enjoy your weekend.
Man-of-the-match Andrew Flintoff: "It's been a tough tour so it's nice to finish on a high. I don't know if I'm back to my best - a few runs wouldn't come amiss. The IPL are probably worried about what they've bought! We've got the Windies coming up at home, then the World Twenty20 and the Ashes so we've got a lot going on and we've got to get some momentum."
2328: The match officials get their medals, and the man of the match is... Andrew Flintoff.
Fergal, London, in the TMS inbox: "Man of the series: Sir Viv Richards... Really enjoyed his insightful commentary this winter, a true gent, sportsman & good guy. Looking forward to hearing from the master blaster the next time we tour the Windies"
England captain Andrew Strauss: "It's been a long, hard tour and to come out of it with something is pretty special. I felt we handled the pressure very well, and Freddie showed his worth from ball one. We played a lot of good cricket in the Test series but didn't get the results, so this one-day series victory was very important for us - it's all about momentum. When you work hard, it's always good to get the results."
West Indies captain Chris Gayle: "It's a disappointing way to lose the series, but we have to give Andrew Strauss and England credit. It was a very good wicket to bat on, but England bowled well. It's been a long tour, the Test series win was very important for us but we just have to keep going as a team."
Gayle also said "age is catching up with me". He's only 29...
2321: Time for the presentation.
Stephen, in Darvel, in the TMS inbox: "Tell Matt's wife (21st over) that EastEnders was the same as always - people shouting at each other. Just WATCH THE CRICKET!"
2314: Sir Viv Richards wonders whether all the events leading up to this game, such as the threat of strike action by the West Indies players in the dispute between the board and the players' association, affected the players on the day. Simon Mann wonders whether there is more to come on this issue - given that the Windies are preparing to tour England next month. Yes, just when you thought this marathon tour had ended, there's a whole round of Tests and ODIs for the same teams to meet on English soil. A bit like last year, when England spent the first half of 2008 playing New Zealand. Over and over again!
Meanwhile, Simon Hughes is back to claim his winnings from Sir Viv (see earlier) - and the mischievous "Master Blaster" offers to pay him in Guyanese dollars... If you've been with us all afternoon & evening, I'm just going to hang on for the presentation.
Nik, St Albans, via text on 81111: "On that Bell v Shah comment (26th over), it's quite fitting that Bell has replaced Shah on the field for the final game"
2311: Wow, what a finish. The TMS crew (particularly Crofty) think Andy Flower has put himself in pole position to get the England coach's job on a full-time basis when the interviews are conducted this coming week, after the turnaround to win this series. It's also their first ever ODI series win in the West Indies. How must Windies coach John Dyson feel after that fiasco over the D/L sheets?
ENGLAND WIN BY 26 RUNS AND WIN SERIES 3-2
28th over - WICKET - Sammy run out 7 - WI 146 all out Sammy digs out a yorker from Anderson, Edwards nearly runs himself out by crazily running for a single that was never there. The Windies' last pair run a couple of singles, and Anderson sportingly advances their score with a wide, but that last over from Flintoff has extinguished any last hopes of a Champions-Trophy-2004-style comeback from the Windies. And off the last ball, a crazy mix-up sees a hesitation over a second run and England complete the run-out to win the series!
27th over - WI 140-9 Fidel Edwards has had to get his pads on pretty sharpish, but digs out his first ball. Flintoff has become the third England player to take an ODI hat-trick after Anderson and Harmison - he has 5-19 from five overs (his best ever ODI figures).
26.5 overs - WICKET - Benn b Flintoff 0 - WI 140-9 Big Benn to face the hat-trick ball... BOWLED HIM! Flintoff has a hat-trick and surely not even Sobers, Richards, Lara, Greenidge and Marshall could save the Windies from here!
26.4 overs - WICKET - Rampaul lbw b Flintoff 0 - WI 140-8 New batsman is left-hander Ravi Rampaul, who's in ahead of Sulieman Benn who we may have expected to bat next. He swings at his first ball, it hits him on the pad, Fred appeals for lbw almost as an afterthought and umpire Davis raises his finger! Flintoff on a hat-trick - and the locals are streaming out...
26.3 overs - WICKET - Ramdin b Flintoff 12 - WI 140-7 Unsurprisingly, Flintoff will bowl overs 27 and 29. He has 2-14 from his first four overs. The first ball is right up in the blockhole, Sammy can only dig it out for a single. Ramdin swats at a short ball as if at an errant fly, gets an edge and it's four to the vacant third man area. 33 needed from 16 balls. Then, Ramdin walks across his stumps trying to force the ball to leg but becomes the first man today to be bowled!
26th over - WI 135-6 Broad continues for his sixth and last over. Ramdin steers a single to long-off, then Sammy does similar to long-on. Colly is fielding long-on at both ends at this stage, under the "stick your best fielders where the ball is most likely to go" captaincy principle. More singles are taken, but with the asking rate over 13, England won't mind conceding singles. Ramdin then opens his shoulders to force a four towards cow corner - but it's still 38 needed from 18 balls.
Jeid Turquet in the TMS inbox: "Mark, I notice that all those who were screaming for Bell to be replaced by Shah have been a fair bit quieter this series! Maybe now people will appreciate the quality Bell possesses and let's hope we see him back in the team for the Ashes. Shah has been pretty woeful in both Tests and ODIs this series"
25th over - WI 127-6 If ever there was a situation for a local hero, the stage is set for local boy Darren Sammy. The batsmen crossed on the catch, so it's Denesh Ramdin off the mark with a single. Even Sir Viv on TMS admits there's no time for players to play themselves in at this stage. Sammy clubs his first ball for a single, then Ramdin is flashing and missing at Anderson before nicking the strike with a single. Excellent over from the "Burnley Express".
Thomas, Stockton, California, in the TMS inbox: "Player of the series is easy for the Windies - got to be Gayle, what else can you say about that quickfire 80 except brilliant? England I think is tougher, I think Strauss did a good job actually but my choice is Masca... useful with the bat, very good with the ball, economical (well apart from that one over...) What more can you ask for?"
24.1 overs - WICKET - Pollard c Collingwood b Anderson 30 - WI 124-6 I've just noticed - every wicket that's fallen today has been caught... then Pollard has a big heave at the first ball of Anderson's over and lobs it straight to Colly at long-on!
24th over - WICKET - Bravo c Flintoff b Broad 33 - WI 124-5 So, who to bowl the second powerplay over? It's Broad. He surprises Pollard with a slow bouncer which Pollard lets through to keeper Prior. But his good work is undone as the next ball is short and wide, and Pollard smacks him over extra cover for six! Pollard then darts down the track, Broad closes in on the ball, kicks it at the stumps soccer-style and he and Pollard collapse in a heap! England appeal for a run-out and Pollard looks in agony, appealing for the physio to come on! The crowd are going wild, whatever's happening. Pollard swings and misses again, but they run a bye to another fumble by Prior. Bravo backs away but Broad bounces in a quicker bouncer and Bravo fails to make contact. Just when you think that over had everything except a wicket, Bravo gets a thick edge into the hands of Flintoff at backward point!
Tim Cotter in the TMS inbox: "Strauss man of the series for England, Gayle or Crab for the Windies"
23rd over - WI 117-4 Here we go - West Indies take their batting powerplay (overs 23 and 24) - England respond by introducing Flintoff. With a pocketful of various Caribbean currencies from this long tour, Simon Hughes on TMS offers Sir Viv Richards a bet of 20 Barbados dollars on the result. Pollard can only bludgeon a single from the first part of the over, but then Bravo spoons a lifting delivery over mid-off and it trickles away for four. It's a game of cat and mouse as the field is shifted nearly every ball. Bravo does well to dig out a toe-crushing yorker and they run one to long-off. Pollard then nearly decapitates non-striker Bravo with a biff back past the bowler and they run another. 56 needed from 36 balls.
Gary, Oxford, via text on 81111: "Now the kids are in bed I'm scared to put the radio on as when I do we usually go from a strong to a losing position, I might just follow live text for a few more overs and see what happens"
22nd over - WI 110-4 Broad to Bravo, a big lbw appeal from the flaxen-haired Notts seamer but umpire Norman Malcolm shakes his head. Hawk-Eye reckons it might have fractionally hit the top of leg stump, but enough doubt for the batsman to take the benefit of the doubt as they run a leg bye. Just three more runs from the over - at this stage England were 113-5, so maybe the Windies aren't too far away after all...
Malcolm Watters in the TMS inbox: "Thought you might be interested that a Jamaican cricketer, Irvin Iffla, has been given the freedom of the City of Stirling today. Now aged 85 he brought a breath of fresh air to Scottish cricket when he came as professional to Stirling County. Having batted with him, I knew of no one better at counting to six and pinching the strike!" REPORT: Iffla given Freedom of City of Stirling
21st over - WI 106-4 A double change as Anderson replaces Colly. Jimmy's not quite been on the money today, but Bravo and Pollard manage a single off every ball. Even an attempted pull shot from Bravo doesn't come off, and they can only run one.
20th over - WI 100-4 Change of bowling as Broad replaces Mascarenhas - Colin Croft thinks this is where the game will be won or lost. Can England make a crucial breakthrough, or will the Windies tee off to give themselves a chance of winning? Bravo smears Broad for a single. Pollard, now helmeted, digs out a good yorker, then a few scampered singles bring up three figures for the home side.
Asif Hussain, London, in the TMS inbox: "My ODI player of the series would be Mr Duckworth- Lewis, due to his ability to single-handedly turn a game on its head"
19th over - WI 96-4 Pollard milks Colly for yet another single to long-on. If West Indies are going to win this match, they're not going to do so just by steering singles to long-on. But that's all they seem to be able to do at the moment... until Pollard goes for the big one, hoisting Colly high over the head of KP at long-on for six! Then he hooks, gets a top edge, it falls safely over fine leg's head and they run two. 77 needed from 10 overs - even I can work out the required rate thee.
Charles (who is probably going to be argued with) from Toronto, in the TMS inbox: "For my money, Stuart Broad gets man of the series for England. For the Windies, Shiv Chanderpaul for his magnificent century in the second ODI"
18th over - WI 84-4 Pollard, whose highest ODI score is 42 after 13 games, dabs Mascarenhas for another single, while the tumbling Cap'n Strauss at short mid-wicket denies Bravo a run. The pair both run singles to long-on as the required rate approaches eight runs an over.
Su-Yang Klotz in the TMS inbox: "Is it me or does Dwayne Bravo look like a slower, shorter and slightly more overweight version of Usain Bolt?"
17th over - WI 81-4 Bravo steers Colly for a two with the help of an overthrow. He then stirs the crowd into life with a four through the covers as Colly slings in a full toss.
TC, in Pimlico, in the pub, via text on 81111: "Mark, your mention of a youthful Derek Pringle reminded me that as a callow youth I once saw him score a century before lunch when his school played mine. Met his coach from Felsted School, the delightful David Surridge, in the local the other day. He reckoned Pringle seemed to forget how to bat the moment he turned professional"
16th over - WI 75-4 The floodlights are on as Pollard steers Dimi for a single to deep square leg. The Hampshire skipper, who's off to the IPL soon for a second season with Rajasthan, has a cheeky grin on his face as Bravo pushes a single to long-on. Bravo and Pollard can only manage two more singles - the run-rate is creeping up, 98 runs needed from 78 balls.
15th over - WI 71-4 Bravo steers a single, bringing new batsman Kieron Pollard on strike. Despite being from Trinidad, he copies Guyanese duo Sarwan and Chanderpaul by banging a bail into the crease as he takes guard. He also forgoes a helmet against the medium-pacers, donning a dark red Windies cap. Just two singles from the over.
14.1 overs - WICKET - Chanderpaul c sub (IR Bell) b Collingwood 13 - WI 69-4 Chanderpaul has a big heave at a long-hop from Colly - but plants it right down the throat of sub fielder Ian Bell on the mid-wicket boundary, who nonchalantly takes the catch! You'd have to favour England now with Gayle, Sarwan and The Crab all back in the tank.
14th over - WI 69-3 Dimi keeps it tight against Bravo for the first couple of deliveries, but he then steps back to hoist a remarkable back-footed shot just over the long-off boundary for six - a shot which has TMS commentator Tony Cozier making comparisons with Windies legend Clyde Walcott. That's the only scoring shot of the over, though.
13th over - WI 63-3 It's right-arm medium at both ends as the wayward Harmison is replaced by Paul Collingwood. Chanderpaul and Bravo manage a single apiece before "The Crab" steers a two to the mid-wicket fence where Bell is still fielding in place of Shah.
It's gone a little quiet on the e-mails and texts - given that we're an hour or two away from the end of the series, who would be your player of the ODI series (on either side)?
12th over - WI 59-3 It's Dimi Time! Time to take the pace off the ball as Hampshire's Dimitri Mascarenhas comes on to bowl his right-arm medium pace. Chanderpaul dabs a single to short third man, Bravo steers a couple off his legs, but Dimi has found his line and length well and that's just three runs from the over. Time for a drinks break - England were 67-1 at this stage.
JobyJak on 606: "Until the gap between runs needed and balls left is 20+, the singles need to be saved. Shane Warne always used to say that, and I used to test his theory and 9nine times out of 10 he was right" Join the debate on 606
11th over - WI 56-3 Bravo and Chanderpaul don't look in the best of nick at the moment, mistiming the ball and carving out singles rather than fours. Harmison is concerned about the state of the ball, where some of the leather is coming off. The resourceful Umpire Davis takes out his pair of scissors and trims away the loose leather. Bravo clips a single off his hip to bring up the Windies' fifty, then Chanderpaul blasts Harmy past the despairing dive of sub fielder Ian Bell at mid-wicket. An aerial wide follows, and it's not a particularly tidy over from the Durham man.
10th over - WI 47-3 New batsman is Dwayne Bravo, although the batsmen crossed on the catch. With two wickets so far, it looks like a better time for Flintoff in St Lucia than his last visit in 2007. If you don't recall the incident, let's just say it involved a pedalo... Just two singles from the over.
9.1 overs - WICKET - Simmons c Broad b Flintoff 17 - WI 45-3 Just when Simmons was looking well set, he backs away and has a huge, ungainly slog at Flintoff and skies an easy catch to Broad at mid-on. Advantage England?
9th over - WI 45-2 Harmy to bowl the third and final over of the bowling powerplay - Simmons and Chanderpaul are happy to keep rotating the strike with singles. Mascarenhas is busy in the field at mid-on, and with no spinner in the side, he might expect to be bowling soon too. A slower ball from Harmy, there's a huge appeal for a catch behind but Chanderpaul stands his ground and umpire Davis - the man whose opinion matters - shakes his head. Replays show he was right to do so.
8th over - WI 42-2 England may have removed their nemesis Sarwan, but his replacement Shivnarine Chanderpaul's record against them isn't too shabby. Bring On The Crab! Shiv pulls his first ball to square leg for a single, then Simmons is struck on the chest when he tries to pull Flintoff to leg. A single takes his score to 15.
7.3 overs - WICKET - Sarwan c Prior b Flintoff 23 - WI 40-2 Sarwan gives himself room to swipe Flintoff over the infield, Pietersen gives chase, can he flick it back before it hits the rope? Yes he can, so four becomes two. But then England have a crucial wicket as Sarwan fences, gets the thinnest of edges and a grateful Prior takes the catch.
7th over - WI 38-1 Umpire Davis signals the bowling powerplay as Steve Harmison replaces Anderson. Sarwan, whose maroon West Indies ODI pads have seen better days, works a single off his legs. Simmons takes a step down the crease and forces Harmy down to square leg for a single. Then Sarwan tips-and-runs a quick single and as with nearly all the West Indian efforts earlier today, Paul Collingwood's throw misses the stumps. Simmons nudges a single to third man, then Harmy bangs in a wide far outside Sarwan's reach, although the Guyanese lifts another short ball over point - the singles have flowed rather freely against Harmison.
6th over - WI 32-1 As happens so often, when England start to wobble, they throw the ball to Andrew Flintoff. Neither batsman nor bowler can believe there are still people moving around just at the edge of the sightscreen as Flintoff tries to run in - the TMS crew think it's some kind of VIP area. Sarwan gets an inside edge but it runs safely past the stumps and they run one. There's some dispute over whether Shah is fielding close enough to be classed as a "close catcher" under the terms of the powerplay rules, but as ever, Flintoff has put the brakes on.
Frenchstokie on 606: "Fair score , now a bit of tight bowling and sharp fielding and I think we can squeeze a win here, fingers crossed!" Join the debate on 606
5th over - WI 31-1 Jimmy strays down the leg side and Sarwan helps it on its way for four, bringing the crowd to their feet. The atmosphere at the ground has sounded in "excited mode" all day. Sarwan ducks a bouncer before flicking a single - Windies need 146 from 146 balls at this stage. But Anderson floats another one down the leg side and Simmons easily leg-glances it for four.
4th over - WI 22-1 Broad fields well off his own bowling, shies at the stumps and hits the sprawling Sarwan as he dives for the crease! Sarwan then swishes and misses and umpire Malcolm spreads his arms to signal a wide, much to Broad's disgust. Sarwan shows no mercy with the next two balls, getting on the front foot to smash Broad through the covers, before pulling a shorter delivery over the square-leg umpire for four more. He even nicks the strike off the last delivery.
And an interesting note from Simon Hughes on TMS - apparently both teams have agreed to use the floodlights if it gets dark before the 29 overs are up. Not that the Windies will probably need 29 overs if Sarwan's still there at the end.
Greg, Chester, in the TMS inbox: "Surely it's time for Mascarenhas to bat above Flintoff in ODIs. Masca isn't in the team to bowl and I can't remember the last time Freddie influenced the game with the bat"
3rd over - WI 12-1 Colin Croft on TMS notes that Mascarenhas has been fielding fine leg at both ends - I've only ever seen that done as punishment or as a forfeit in social cricket... Simmons opens the face to knock Anderson down to third man for a two and a single, but after Sarwan rotates the strike, Simmons gets an edge which bounces in front of Prior but bounces through the Sussex man's gloves for four. ("The best keepers in the world might have got a hand to it, but might have broken a finger in doing so", notes Simon Hughes).
2nd over - WI 4-1 Stuart Broad takes the second over, Sarwan fishes and misses outside off stump. He doubles his score with a single, and Lendl Simmons is off the mark with a single of his own - Simon Hughes on TMS recalls being hit over the pavilion by Simmons' uncle Phil (the ex-Windies batsman, now coaching Ireland) on one ground in a NatWest Trophy game.
Rachel Tyrrell, Lincoln, in the TMS inbox: "I think Ross in Somerset (25th over) has been watching too much F1"
1st over - WI 2-1 Well, that's quietened the crowd a little - but it brings in Ramnaresh Sarwan, who as Simon Hughes notes on TMS, "has been England's nemesis on the entire tour". He's off the mark with a single, and what an opening over for England!
0.3 overs - WICKET - Gayle c Flintoff b Anderson 0 - WI 1-1 James Anderson is handed the new ball, and his second effort is a wide which keeper Prior takes in front of first slip. But England are cock-a-hoop when Gayle edges the next ball straight to Anderson's Lancashire team-mate Andrew Flintoff at second slip!
2045: As I mentioned, we've hardly had time to rest our typing fingers before West Indies are ready to begin their reply. Unfortunately, all of us sat here can see Chris Gayle making short work of the total if he tees off in his usual fashion...
Sir Viv Richards on TMS: "West Indies will feel this is a total they can chase, but it depends on the start they get from the opening batsmen"
29th over - Eng 172-5 Sammy to bowl the last over - Colly delicately sweeps him through the vacant fine leg area for four. A single brings Prior on strike, the Sussex man digs out a yorker to mid-wicket for a single. Then Colly dabs a quick single, Sammy throws the ball at the stumps but it hits Colly (who was trying to take evasive action) on the back of the legs! Prior blasts the fifth ball past long-on for four, then a well-run two ensures England finish on 172-5 - a defendable total?
Winner (in Brussels) in the TMS inbox: "Just when England needs his innings the most, looks like Extras has cracked under the pressure!"
28th over - Eng 159-5 Last two overs - Colly can't get Bravo's first two deliveries away, but eventually steers a single to long-on. Colly swings at a slower ball, it flies over the keeper and they manage to run three as Chanderpaul makes a superb diving stop at third man. Prior rotates the strike, Colly aims another big swing but can only run one.
Dr A.J. Desai, London: "Chanderpaul has fielded superbly today! I bet Pietersen is wishing he kept his mouth shut now. His disparaging comments are looking more and more ridiculous every passing moment"
27th over - Eng 152-5 Sammy on for Pollard, and Colly'n'Prior keep pushing the singles, while a camera bizarrely shows a dog, with its head stuck out of a window of a luxurious nearby house, barking. Let's hope the canine in question is encouraging England to get a shift on... Sammy is rather harshly punished with an offside wide, then Prior square-cuts for a much-needed boundary.
26th over - Eng 142-5 Four overs left for England, including one more powerplay over. Gayle is replaced by Bravo - I guess it's a captain's prerogative not to have to bowl yourself in a powerplay. But Gayle makes a complete horlicks of the field setting, gifting England a no-ball by having too many men (four) outside the circle! Prior hasn't middled a single shot yet, playing and missing at Bravo. The Sussex stumper then gets an inside edge onto his pad but they scamper a single. Gayle will be happy to restrict it to singles in a powerplay though... and Prior finally middles one with a lovely cover-driven four. A slower ball is biffed, cross-batted, back over the bowler's head by Prior and they run two. But it's clever bowling from Bravo as he has Prior swishing and missing at another slower ball.
Simon Mann on TMS: "It's easy to say with hindsight whether Mascarenhas should have come in ahead of Prior"
25th over - Eng 133-5 Surely it's time for England to hit out now? They take their batting powerplay - so it'll be just three fielders outside the circle for overs 25 and 26. All three boundary fielders are on the leg side for Colly, who steps across his stumps and hoists Pollard for a first-bounce four through deep square leg. He can only manage a single to the same region - what can Prior do? (And will I ever stop asking these rhetorical questions?) He can only manage a single, then Colly aims another blast towards square leg where some comedy fielding by two Windies players allows him a second run. Another big heave to the same region from Colly - and it squirms just over the leaping Dwayne Bravo for six!
Ross in Somerset, in the TMS inbox: "If you claim a catch that TV replays clearly show you spilled can you be fined?"
24th over - Eng 119-5 With Benn's spell finished, Gayle introduces himself into the attack with some off-spin. Colly works a single through the covers, then Prior is finally off the mark with a top-edged sweep for one. Gayle is quickly through his over, keeping Colly tied down, and the Durham man can only manage another single to long-on.
23rd over - Eng 116-5 Colly can only dab a two and then a single as Pollard varies his pace a little. Prior, by contrast, has faced seven balls and failed to score from any of them.
22nd over - Eng 113-5 Thankfully for England, this is the last over Big Benn can bowl. Colly rotates the strike with a single. Prior then nearly plays on, and has to knock the ball away from his stumps at the second attempt. But the Sussex man plays out five dot balls in a row as Benn completes his spell with figures of 6-0-23-2.
David Brennan in the TMS inbox: "England are going too slow here. We would want a score between 250 and 290 since it is practically a Twenty20 game now. And with Chris Gayle to come... dear oh dear, bad toss to lose"
21st over - Eng 112-5 New batsman Matt Prior defends his first ball.
20.5 overs - WICKET - Flintoff c Chanderpaul b Pollard 3 - Eng 112-5 A Flintoff single brings up the fabled score of "Nelson", 111, but thankfully not for long as Colly clips a single off his legs. But then when Flintoff tries to accelerate, he chips the ball towards mid-wicket where Shivnarine Chanderpaul takes a quite magnificent diving one-handed catch. No doubt about that one. Can I hear the sound of England's innings derailing? Or is that just a vacuum cleaner in the next room?
Colin Croft on TMS: "The ground here is not big enough for you to run many threes, but you should get two if you can get the ball past the inner ring of fielders at extra cover and mid-wicket"
20th over - Eng 110-4 What can Andrew Flintoff do? Another man short of runs - he steers his first ball straight to backward point and there is no run, but he eventually works a single to leg before walking down the pitch to confer with Colly. Colly punches a single to long-on, while Fred keeps the strike with a single nudged towards fine leg.
19.2 overs - WICKET - Shah c Simmons b Benn 6 - Eng 107-4 Big Benn continues for his fifth over - Shah pulls a quicker ball to long-on, where Lendl Simmons doesn't even has to move to take the catch.
19th over - Eng 107-3 Time for some rebuilding as Paul Collingwood, often England's street-fighter in these circumstances, joins Shah. A couple of singles rotate the strike, then Shah expertly tickles a single to third man. Ramdin is keeping wicket bare-headed without even any sunglasses on, but has kept very tidily so far.
18.1 overs - WICKET - Bopara c Ramdin b Pollard 44 - Eng 104-3 England still have a two-over batting powerplay up their sleeves - when will they take it? Sammy is off after getting smashed for that six - Pollard's on, Bopara skies the first ball into the air, it stays up there a long time but keeper Ramdin makes no mistake with a straightforward catch.
18th over - Eng 104-2 Shah gives himself room to carve Benn for a single through the covers, then a leg bye brings up three figures for the tourists. Bopara steers a two to Bravo, who is doing an excellent job as the "Boundary Fox" on the cover fence.
Simon Mann on TMS: "England will do well to get to 200 from here, especially given the nature of the pitch"
17th over - Eng 98-2 Shah takes a while to get off strike, but then Bopara hoists another loose delivery for six - it lands several rows back into the stand at mid-wicket. A jogged two means that's nine off the over.
16th over - Eng 89-2 New batsman is Owais Shah - while replays of Sammy's catch are causing consternation as it looks blatantly clear that he grounded the ball as he took the catch - it bounced off his chest, onto the ground and then back into his hands! Shocking, he's a bit naughty to claim that. Shah off the mark with a single. Meanwhile, Colin Croft on TMS reveals that third umpire Goaland Greaves had a cameo part in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films! But in terms of cricketing film cameos, can it match Derek Pringle as "Tall student with glasses at the fresher's fair" at the beginning of Chariots of Fire?
15.2 overs - WICKET - Pietersen c Sammy b Benn 48 - Eng 88-2 Bopara drives Big Benn for a single to long-on - then KP cuts again and is superbly caught by local hero Sammy inches off the ground! Good catch - big wicket.
15th over - Eng 87-1 KP straight-drives and Sammy sticks out a foot to stop the ball shooting past him. He then plays an unorthodox shot, chipping the ball towards deep square leg from outside off stump - a single results. Plenty of variable bounce from the tall Sammy, who's bowled pretty tidily apart from that six in the last over. Bopara guides a single off his legs, just two from the over.
14th over - Eng 85-1 A superbly-timed cut by Pietersen races past backward point and just about makes it past the cover sweeper for four. KP then expertly flicks a two between the legside fielders before dabbing a quick single - he suddenly has 46 from 42 balls. After a single from Bopara, then it's KP's turn to run a risky single - and Ramdin's turn to shy at the stumps and miss. KP even has time to collide with Big Benn at the bowler's end - we're nearly halfway through the innings and it's time for a drinks interval, which the players somehow feel they deserve, having been sat around all day...
13th over - Eng 76-1 Pietersen cuts Sammy down to third man for a single, Bopara makes an expansive slog towards the mid-wicket area and completely misses the ball, which is taken by Ramdin standing up to the stumps. He takes on Pollard's arm with a quick single... but the Windies fielders' radar is still off. The England pair appear to have a bit of a disagreement about their running between the wickets... but when Sammy drops in a loose delivery, Ravi B gives it the treatment it deserves as he hoists it over square leg for six.
Cricketing_stargazer on 606: "Strauss is a very good ODI batsman, but needs a stable partner to complement him. More than anyone, his form suffered when Marcus Trescothick withdrew. There are signs though that Strauss and Bopara could make a good opening partnership once they bed down, with complementary styles and also, usefully, being LHB and RHB to drive the bowlers mad with quick singles" Join the debate on 606
12th over - Eng 67-1 Our first taste of spin as Pollard's off after one over, and the gangly slow left-armer Sulieman Benn enters the attack - not having played a game since the Twenty20 international. Just the minimum four men in the circle, and it's as much as KP can do to work a single to backward square leg, before Bopara does the same. Big Benn is very adept at altering his pace and flight, but it's just three singles from the over.
11th over - Eng 64-1 The Beausejour crowd salute their local hero as Darren Sammy, the first international cricketer produced by St Lucia, replaces Bravo. KP nudges him for a single, Bopara swings and misses before smearing a single through the covers. Pietersen keeps pressing the singles, and 12th man Adil Rashid is ready to run on with some fresh gloves.
10th over - Eng 61-1 The medium-fast Kieron Pollard replaces Rampaul, and after an exchange of singles, KP's luck is in as he gets an inside edge past the stumps which scoots away to the fine leg boundary for four. However, England keep knocking the singles around at will.
West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards on TMS: "Today isn't a public holiday in St Lucia, but this is one of the most impressive crowds we've seen in this series. They're a bit starved of international cricket here"
9th over - Eng 52-1 Bopara nicks another single, KP tries to turn one off his legs and they trot through for a leg bye. An extravagant cut by Bopara over the vacant first slip position brings him four runs which takes his score to 19. Now the field will go back.
PSMP on 606: "I would love KP to put in an epic performance here. If England somehow manage to wangle a series win it won't look too bad overall, as they only lost the Test series due to THAT one innings." Join the debate on 606
8th over - Eng 46-1 Rampaul in for his fourth over (no bowler can bowl more than six in this reduced-overs match) and KP looks to be in Neil Fairbrother one-day mode, taking a minimum of a single off nearly every ball he faces. Bopara gently guides a single through the covers - then KP aims a big heave back over the bowler's head, over the advertising boards and that's six!
JP in NYC, in the TMS inbox: "So the umpires came out, I popped off for a cup of tea, clicked a couple of songs on Pandora and hit F5 to refresh the BBC and Strauss was out! Four hour wait for that."
7th over - Eng 38-1 ...but Cap'n Gayle decides to take the bowling powerplay immediately - so the Windies are allowed three men outside the circle for overs 7-9. KP straight-drives, but Bravo fields the ball one-handed and hurls the ball back at the stumps at the striker's end. A superb bit of fielding, which reminds both Paul Grunill and me of Roger Harper's astonishing run-out of Graham Gooch in the MCC Bicentenary match. It's referred to the third umpire, but KP survives as he had just made his ground in time. Pietersen then slices a shot over the infield for a single, Bopara is playing the support role well. KP prods a risky single to mid-on, he would have been out if it had hit... but the throw is wide.
6th over - Eng 35-1 Bopara cuts again and times it well on this occasion as the ball sails past backward point for four. The Essex man then delicately tips-and-runs a single to the same area, the Windies are a little loose in the field at the moment. KP pinches the strike - that's it for the compulsory powerplay...
5th over - Eng 29-1 New bowler, same action as Edwards is replaced by all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. KP hangs his bat out to bunt a single towards point, Bopara is rotating the strike well and then Pietersen goes for placement rather than power as he guides a two past the man at short mid-wicket. Bravo is having a bit of trouble with his line... and sends down a legside wide just as I type that. More impeccable timing brings KP two more - he has 16 from 15 balls and hasn't played a rash shot yet.
Syds_Sports on 606: "Ravi, Shah and Masco are favourites to do best - unless KP gets his finger out!" Join the debate on 606
4th over - Eng 22-1 Bopara flashes and misses at a wide one from Rampaul, which is signalled as a wide despite appearing to be just inside the white line painted as a guideline for wides. The England pair exchange singles as Rampaul looks to be getting a bit of swing. Two overs of the first (compulsory) powerplay left.
Dan in Middlesex, in the TMS inbox: "Looks like its may come down to another 20-20 slogathon to decide the series... and we all know what happened the last couple of times. On the plus side, I'm in work till 8pm so won't miss that much of it at this rate!"
3rd over - Eng 19-1 Bopara fences and misses at Edwards before nudging a single, then KP is struck on the elbow when he mistimes a pull, but shows no reaction. A good stop by Pollard at backward point stops a likely single, but KP finds the boundary for the first time with a well-timed cover drive, then repeats the same shot with the same result.
2nd over - Eng 10-1 With the match nearer a Twenty20 than a full ODI, Kevin Pietersen strides to the wicket at first drop, ahead of Owais Shah. With two slips in, he shoulders arms to his first ball, and finally gets off the mark with a well-run two to third man off the last ball of the over.
Simon Hughes on TMS: "Although he will always have his critics, Pietersen has an uncanny ability to deliver when it's most needed - either by England or by himself"
1.1 overs - WICKET - Strauss c Bravo b Rampaul 3 - Eng 8-1 Rampaul, who hasn't played an ODI for more than a year, bounces a short one in to Strauss first ball and the England captain obligingly pops it into the hands of square leg!
1st over - Eng 8-0 Edwards opens with a speedy legside wide, then Strauss delicately tucks a two off his hip. A cut to third man brings the England skipper a single, bringing the right-handed Bopara on strike for the first time - he can't work his first couple of deliveries past the infield, but he crashes the last ball through point for four.
Simon Hughes on TMS: "I saw Fidel Edwards walking around the town last night, he was wearing a tea-cosy-like hat and trying to stay incognito - the trouble was, he was with Sulieman Benn, who's about 6ft 8ins, so they got recognised"
1827: Here come the umps - we're ready to begin, a mere four hours after the scheduled start of play. Andrew Strauss and Ravi Bopara opening up as usual for England, with Fidel Edwards taking the new ball for West Indies.
1821: Plenty of discussion about England's team selection (no spinner), given that West Indies have picked Twenty20 specialists Benn (who played in the Stanford Superstars) and Rampaul (who was in the same competition in the colours of Trinidad & Tobago). Right, while we get ready for the game, here's one final Elton John song title (and it's a good 'un):
From KA in Pinner: "I'm Still Stanford"
1815: Four bowlers will be able to bowl six overs, with the fifth only bowling a maximum of five. The powerplays will be six, three and two overs respectively. Here are the teams:
West Indies: Chris Gayle (capt), Lendl Simmons, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Sulieman Benn, Ravi Rampaul, Fidel Edwards.
England: Andrew Strauss (capt), Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior (wk), Dimitri Mascarenhas, Stuart Broad, Steve Harmison, James Anderson.
Umpires are Australia's Steve Davis and Jamaica's Norman Malcolm. The exotically-named Goaland Greaves is third ump on the TV replays, Clancy Mack is fourth ump. And my match-report "wing-man" is Jamie Lillywhite, who's already perturbed by the potential of a late finish and a dodgy late-night train journey home...
1810: There's rumours now of a 29-over match being staged. And we have the toss! Attended by match referee Javigal Srinath, with Darren Sammy's fiancee (the Carnival Queen of St Lucia) in attendance. Toss is won by West Indies - they elect to field first. They make two changes - Ravi Rampaul is in for Lionel Baker, while we already knew Sulieman Benn would replace Nikita Miller. England captain Andrew Strauss admitted he'd have made the same choice if he'd won the toss. It's confirmed - 29 overs per side, we'll start at 1830, and England are unchanged.
1801: Umpires are now inspecting for the third time. Cross your fingers, folks.
Suze in Vieux Fort, in the TMS inbox: "I'm going for a spot of liquid lunch now - a couple of Pitons and a rum & coke. Hope the beach bar on Sandy Beach (the best beach in St Lucia) is showing the start of the match on the TV. The sky is clearing here and a little hazy sunshine is trying to show its face"
James in Birmingham, via text on 81111: "It would be fitting if the tour ends in the damp squib of a no result"
1750: Whatever the situation, England have named an unchanged team, according to a Press Association report, which also states that play will start at 1830 BST. So Harmison stays in the side in place of Batty. I remember receiving an e-mail during the last World Cup which suggested that sides (South Africa in this case) failing to field a front-line spinner in ODIs should be docked 50 runs! And clearly Andrew Millington in the TMS inbox has been doing his homework on England's last visit to Beausejour:
"Last time England played an ODI in St Lucia in 2004 the pick of the bowlers was one Gareth Batty, who took 2-40 in nine overs. Simultaneously a remarkable and a very dull fact."
1745: Crikey, even the mild-mannered David Gower is going off on one about the abortive 1800 "start". He's furious that the 1800 start was announced if (as he fears) the officials weren't sure that it was definitely fit to start the game.
Phil in France in the TMS inbox: "I knew Claire Taylor when she was a promising young IT manager. I remember thinking she was brave but crazy when she gave it up to concentrate on cricket. But she's been England's most consistent player for some time now, and deserves this award more than any of the men on the list for her performances and the circumstances in which she excels. Considering the peanuts England pay her, Claire provides more value for money than the whole men's team! Well done Claire and well done Wisden for starting to recognise the rise of the ladies' game"
1736: Uh-oh - the fourth umpire Clancy Mack reveals that play will not start at 1800 BST - but there will be a further (third) inspection at 1800 BST. So it looks like the "33 overs per side" plan has gone out of the window...
Phil in the TMS inbox: "Please tell me were not heading for another 'can't-play-'cos-it's-getting-dark-and-the-floodlights-are-off fiasco... That really would round off this tour in fitting style. The professional game is becoming a laughing stock!"
1733: Less than half-an-hour to go now - we should get news of the toss any minute.
Paul in the TMS inbox: "I'll admit I've not been very good at keeping up with the World Cup Qualifier, but perhaps you or other readers can clear some things up for me: 1 - Who is ever going to attend the elaborate set of relegation playoff matches? 2 - Why do only some games have 'full one-day international status' - does that mean those teams get priority check-in and free drink served by the hostess during the lunch interval?"
When the "top" associate countries (like Ireland and Kenya) play each other, then it's classed as a full ODI (and counts for players' ODI statistics). If they're playing one of the minnows, it's not. If you get my drift.
Geoff (hardly working in Bagshot) in the TMS inbox: "Re: 1622 - Are you trying to tell us in your quiet way that they will not use lights if the light deteriorates? Are we setting up the game to finish in the same farce as the first one? When will common sense prevail?"
As I understand it, that's correct, they won't use the lights. In defence of the umpires and officials, they don't set the playing conditions - they just apply them.
1720: We're back. For those who are interested, Australia eventually made 286-7 against South Africa, with Mike Hussey - who has opted out of the IPL - top-scoring with 83 not out. South Africa v Australia: ODI scorecard
Rob Cook's housemate, via text on 81111: "Can't believe you're singing Cookie's praises ! I did get him out playing in the garden yesterday... spooned one up to mid-off! Although he was using a stump and I was using a tennis ball"
1704: Right, we've still got just under an hour before play. The ever-knowledgeable Paul Grunill has pointed out that in a reduced-overs match, the interval between innings will shrink to miniscule proportions - so we're going to disappear for a few minutes as it'll be our only chance grab a sarnie or two to see us through the evening. In the meantime, here's another batch of Elton John cricket songs (including my favourite so far from Flatley in Salford) - see you in a bit.
Chris in Leeds: "Are You FREDDIE For Love?" Matthew in Leeds: "A list of Elton songs wouldn't be complete without the classic Inzamam-ul-Hakuna Matata" Flatley, Salford: "Don't Go (Nathan) Bracken My Heart" Martyn, Holland: "Surely 'Trundle in the Wind' was written for every slow left-arm spinner?" Jimbo, London: "The forgotten man of West Indies cricket - Tino (Best) Dancer"
1654: Mention of the World Cup qualifier in South Africa reminds me of something else on the site you may have missed - former Olympic hero Matthew Pinsent, now a reporter with BBC TV's Inside Sport, has been out there and has posted his thoughts on his blog. The new series of Inside Sport begins on Monday, 6 April. Matthew Pinsent blog: Fun and games in South Africa
Will Aitkenhead, Bedford School, via text on 81111: "When on tour in St. Lucia last summer we played at the Beausejour Stadium. The pitch had a bit of life to begin with but got slower and lower as the game went on. I also took 3 for 4 from five overs bowling off-breaks. Get Batty in!"
1650: With more than an hour until play, the TV pictures have switched to the Champions Trophy final at The Oval from 2004, when Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw steered the Windies to a remarkable victory over England. Among the England team was Alex Wharf (whatever happened to him?) while Marcus Trescothick followed up his century by taking a wicket! REPORT: Windies clinch Champions Trophy glory (2004)
Dev in the TMS inbox: "Why can't we extend the D/L method further by calculating the resources of the teams in terms of how they have performed in the last four matches and arrive at a result for this match! That way you don't have to worry about the rain ruining the result! And you can ensure there will be a winner. Also Pietersen can go home a few hours early"
Paul in Swindon in the TMS inbox: "Re: 1550 - Duckworth-Lewis is the only way that England can win cricket matches (12 words)"
1637: Of course, there's still a few other games taking place around the world. In Durban, Australia are coming towards the end of their innings in their ODI against South Africa, where "Punter" Ponting has been out caught Morkel (A) bowled Morkel (M). Can the Husseys pull off a similar brotherly double when the Proteas bat? Meanwhile, India are 375-9 after day one of the third Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, which is quite possibly one of my favourite cricket grounds in the world. All the latest international scores
Ben, New Cross, in the TMS inbox: "Is that a portly William Shatner I see at Aintree for Ladies Day? (Pic 2 in your photo gallery)" GALLERY: Ladies' Day pictures
Shatner owns his own horse ranch, so it's not impossible. It's horse racing, Ben, but not as we know it...
1630: With no play due for an hour and a half, TMS are going off-air. They'll be back, but if you're sitting at your desk on a Friday afternoon waiting for home time, we're going to keep going here on the live text, where the debate has ranged from Afghan cricket, mental tiredness, Claire Taylor's Wisden honour, Duckworth-Lewis and an absolute shedload about Elton John. Just think what it would be like if we actually had some cricket to discuss...
Alok, Oxford, in the TMS inbox: "Re: Afghanistan's stunning rise in world cricket - I think England's whiny superstars would do well to adopt the passion and the self-belief that marks the Afghans as they consistently punch well above their weight in cricket, despite having about the same infrastructure and financial support as a club team. Here's hoping Afghanistan make it to the World Cup in 2011!"
"I agree with Josh giving F5 some hammer (1532). I could understand if the players were mentally tired from producing high-quality performances day-in day-out. But let's face it, we played poorly at the beginning of the tour, poorly in the middle of the tour and well, poorly at the end. After 12 weeks on holiday in the Caribbean, they need a break? Give us a break more like" Angry James in Chelsea, in the TMS inbox
And what will some of them do to "take a rest"? Play in the IPL...
1622: News just in - play will start at 1800. It'll be 33 overs per side with powerplays of seven, three and three overs respectively. Three bowlers can bowl no more than seven overs, any others can bowl no more than six. But what's important to stress is that although this game was originally scheduled to be day-night, it is a day game - so they will need to get the game in before the light fades.
"Thanks for mentioning Ireland and Scotland, our teams need (and deserve) your support. The Irish boys in particular are doing very well. Bring on the World Cup!" Matt Hague in the TMS inbox
1615: Colin Croft on TMS reckons we can expect the toss in about half-an-hour, with play resuming in an hour (circa 1715 BST).
"Given that Dwayne Bravo did not receive any pay from the WICB during his eight-month injury layoff, you can't blame him for wanting to choose the IPL over a tour of England" Shivfan on 606 Join the debate on 606
1610: Umps are still wandering around, while England captain Andrew Strauss is having a look too and adding in the odd comment. You'll hear any prospects of play as soon as we get them.
"Mark, seeing as it's raining over there, surely it's time for the tale of your only international wicket again! Setting the batsmen up with grenade-style bowling whilst setting the leg-side trap to great effect. Why weren't you snapped up for the IPL?" Rob 'Sobers' Cook in Lincoln, via text on 81111
Rob's too modest, he was man-of-the-match (49 runs, 2-12 from six overs and a stunning catch) in a victorious game we played against a club side in Barbados just after the fourth Test. I did mention it on my first live text shift after my return (Day 3 of 5th Test) - as for the IPL, I guess there'll be some vacancies once KP and the other England players have to return to the UK... Don't tell them about my fielding, though.
1601: Simon Hughes on TMS reveals how he's been getting confused by all the various Caribbean currencies he's accumulated over the past few weeks (I can sympathise, although it's good for one's mental arithmetic), but we're still waiting for any news from the second inspection. Simon reckons it could be as much as another hour until play could start - a comment which has my "gaffer" Paul Grunill sighing like a steam engine. Let's hope we get to see some cricket soon, I'm feeling like a substitute teacher brought in to teach on the last day of term when all the work's been done and everyone just wants to muck around.
"In response to Josh's comment at 1530 about how this shouldn't be a decider, I don't know why people automatically think the West Indies should have won the first ODI. The game was in the balance and England had as much a chance of winning it. I can't see a result today if I'm honest" Pete, Mansfield, in the TMS inbox REPORT: England win first ODI after farcical finish
1555: My brain's hurting after all that D/L chat, so here's some more from the Reg Dwight cricketing concept album:
"If you're going to get into Elton John and left-arm spinners, then how about The BishanBedi Is Back?" (Phil, London) "Crocodile (Dwayne) Leve-Rock" (Ash in Barnet) "One for Steve Harmison - Wicket Man (I think it's gonna be a long, long time)" (Will, London) "How about this to sum up the whole England tour, 'Shamble in the Wind-ies' (Robbie Johnson, Northants) "On the domestic cricket front, Surrey Seems To Be The Hardest Word!" (Rob in Peterborough) "Unlikely though it may seem the song Daniel by Elton John was actually about Wayne Daniel the fearsome Middlesex and West Indies fast bowler - Elton being a keen cricket fan" (BM, Norwich)
1550: They say these things are sent to test us - Phil from Leeds in the TMS inbox has asked me to sum up Duckworth-Lewis method in less than 20 words. (Why do Tom and Ben never get sent such questions?) Well, here goes:
"Re: Will Martyn (1444) - how can you claim that discussing Claire Taylor being in the Wisden Five is like 'comparing apples with pears'? She plays cricket at the highest possible level and has helped the national side to World Cup success, scoring over 350 runs averaging 64! She sounds like a perfect candidate to me and someone we should be proud of" Owen Warne in the TMS inbox
"(Re: 1448) Dwayne Leverock is a better shout for the next England squad than Yardy" Andy Wood in the TMS inbox
1537: Despite the rain delay in St Lucia, I'm reliably informed by my colleague Oliver Brett - who's giving his horse racing leanings full rein this week - that it's bright sunshine at Aintree, where it's Ladies' Day ahead of tomorrow's Grand National. He recommends a look at our Ladies' Day photo gallery on the BBC Sport website. GALLERY: Ladies' Day pictures
Some of you e-mailers have mentioned how it's the day of the year when someone in your office (in our case it's the Brettmeister General himself) flits around enticing non-racing fans (like me) to take part in a sweepstake. (I've got Silver Birch). Anyway, take a look at Ollie's pinsticker's guide to the National - and we've even got a sweepstake kit for you to print out and use. Grand National runners and riders, by Oliver Brett
"Where is Ajantha Mendis in players of the year? He's absolute sauce. What about Duminy ahead of McKenzie too? Gambhir? Ross Taylor? Jesse Ryder? Crackers" Wizard, Grays, Essex, in the TMS inbox
1532: If you've just joined us (and you're very welcome if you have), we're still waiting for the start of play in this, the fifth ODI, which should have started at 1430 BST. Rain in St Lucia has delayed the start, and although it's stopped and the covers are off, we're now having to wait for the outfield to dry. (It's not as quick-draining as Lord's). There will be an inspection at 1600 BST, and you can expect a reduced-overs game when we do begin. TMS commentator Simon Hughes is very pleased he sampled some curry roti while in the Caribbean - and having eaten it in St Lucia myself, I heartily agree.
"I can't quite understand how some of the players are feeling sorry for themselves for having 'a long and difficult tour' and some of KP's statements, I mean, in the current climate, I would snap anybody's hand off if they gave me a chance to go to the West Indies for 12 weeks playing the sport I love'. I think I may even do it for free!" Josh, giving F5 some hammer at work in Castleford, in the TMS inbox
1530: It seems the "signing Aussies in the lead-up to the Ashes" has stirred up a hornets' nest. Some strong words from someone (literally) "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells"...
"On the subject of Aussies being signed up by counties in an Ashes year - I never was a great fan of 'win at all costs' and, although I am sure it won't cause anyone any sleepless nights, I shall no longer be a supporter of Kent, but of Sussex. It was bad enough them slurping up all the Kolpak players, but as far as I am concerned, signing Stuart Clark is the last straw" Mick in Tunbridge Wells, in the TMS inbox
"The long and short of this decider is that it shouldn't have been a decider in the first place. If I was Strauss going to pick up the trophy at the end of today I'd feel a little embarrassed. The only thing that could make this whole tour more of a farce would be if we were to win it on the back of Dysongate" Josh in the TMS inbox
"Hi Mark. Along with Scotland and Ireland it's interesting to note the progress of Afghanistan who have won their first two games! Would be incredible if they qualified for the World Cup!" Tom in cricket-hating France, via text on 81111
1523: Simon Hughes has noticed that while the England players are going through their usual warm-up by playing football, the Windies players are nowhere to be seen. Despite the assurances we've had that the threat of strike action was over...
"The IPL's not going to go away, so the various national boards need to work out how they can accommodate it. But in return, they need some loyalty from the players - and compromises need to be made on both sides" Former Middlesex and Durham seamer Simon Hughes on TMS
1515: And it's just as well they're still not playing yet, as the TMS inbox is more flooded by Elton John song suggestions than it normally is by regular cricket chat:
"For Rashid, Elton's 'I Get A Little Bit Lonely' might be appropriate" (John Sayer) "Sarwan Seems To Be The Hardest Word"(Toby, London) "Saturday Nick Knight's Alright for Fighting" (Thomas Lester) "Another left-arm spinner named after an Elton song - Phil Tufnell, whose middle names are Adelphia Freedom" (Danny, London) "For everyone watching England this winter... 'I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues'. I'll get my coat" (The Drumming Gibbon)
1510: The covers are off - but they're not going to inspect again until 1600 BST. Ho hum. There's been some interesting chat on TMS, about the Indian Premier League and whether money should be a motivation for players who make such decisions to play abroad. Sir Viv Richards points out how he was offered a small fortune to tour apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, but he and many other West Indies stars felt they could not do so on moral grounds.
"I wouldn't say that Claire Taylor is the shock choice - I would say she is the strongest out of the list that was selected. You're doing Claire a disservice calling her the shock in a list which contains James Anderson! A tip for next year if he carries on his form from South Africa (and I hope he doesn't) is Australia's Phillip Hughes" Tom, dissertation-ing, London, in the TMS inbox
"With yet more rain today in the 5th ODI, what are the chances of England winning a game this winter without reliance on the foibles of the D/L system?" Baary, Amersham, UK, in the TMS inbox
1505: Covers are coming off at great pace now, with umpires Steve Davis and Norman Malcolm carefully inspecting the pitch underneath.
"We musn't forget Elton John's tribute to Sri Lankan cricket, Kandy In The Wind" Louis, Marlow
1459: Kevin Pietersen hasn't been too far from the news on this tour - with his recent comments about "being at the end of his tether", coupled with his lack of form in the ODI series, provoking a lot of debate. If you haven't seen it already, I'd recommend a look at Kevin Howells' recent analysis of the KP situation on the TMS blog. TMS BLOG: The loneliness of a long-distance cricketer
"Those aren't waterhogs, they're too small - they're water-piglets" Former West Indies pace bowler Colin Croft surveys the ground staff's water-soaking-up equipment on TMS
1452: Some other encouraging cricket news to report - Ireland and Scotland have both made encouraging starts to the ICC World Cup Qualifier in South Africa, while everyone's favourite pie-eating portly left-arm spinner/prison van driver Dwayne Leverock has been starring for Bermuda, bowling his 10 overs for just 13 runs against the United Arab Emirates. ICC World Cup Qualifier: fixtures and results
"Re: Elton John songs. Not forgetting the Bangladesh version of Don't let (Shakib Al) Hasan Go Down On Me" John, Brighton, in the TMS inbox
1448: Simon Mann on TMS reveals that most of the umbrellas are down and the Beausejour ground staff are starting to take some of the covers off. Meanwhile, Michael Yardy's name was suggested for an England recall in the office just now, and the suggestion was met with laughter.
"I would not be confident that we're going to get a game here. I think that a 3pm (BST) inspection is pretty optimistic. However, if it comes to Duckworth-Lewis: John Dyson's mathematical brain v Andrew Strauss' thunderbat... I know who I'd put my money on!" Cricketing_stargazer on 606 Join the debate on 606
1444: TMS are also discussing the England head coach vacancy - apparently West Indies coach John Dyson was spotted speaking to England team's managing director Hugh Morris over a coffee yesterday, with a baseball cap pulled down over his face... Morris isn't saying who's being interviewed, but the word is that several interviews will take place next week.
"Delighted to see Jimmy Anderson get the nod - I feel he's our most improved player over the last 12 months, not just with the ball but with his batting/fielding. Graeme Smith deserves a mention, but is Neil McKenzie possibly the most defensive, and boring batsman to ever get the Wisden recognition? As for Claire Taylor, it's like comparing apples with pears but in relative terms, it's a great achievement and well deserved. She's English after all!" Will Martyn, West Sussex, in the TMS inbox
As I mentioned, you can only be chosen for the "Wisden Five" once - Graeme Smith was chosen in 2004 alongside Flintoff, Chris Adams, Ian Harvey and Gary Kirsten.
1432: While we wait, what else can I tell you from the world of cricket? Leicestershire have signed flame-haired Aussie all-rounder Andrew McDonald - but for 2010, not this season, as chief executive David Smith felt it was "wrong" to sign an Australian in the lead-up to the Ashes. That'll make him popular with his counterparts at Kent and Middlesex, who have signed Stuart Clark and Phillip Hughes respectively... And in some news just in, I've heard that Warwickshire have signed New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel for this summer.
"There's a lot riding on this game - we want to finish a long and difficult tour on a high" England captain Andrew Strauss speaks to TMS's Kevin Howells
"I know it's not Elton, but what about 'Emburey and Ivory'?" Chris in Germany
1426: The TMS crew are momentarily flummoxed when they hear of an inspection at 3 o'clock - until Simon Hughes points out it will be at 1500 BST, not 1500 local time!
"I am in Vieux Fort at the other end of St Lucia to Beausejour and it has been absolutely honking down with rain for most of the morning. Don't know what it is like up north so would appreciate a weather forecast. Can't get to the match as someone has to keep the wheels of industry turning so will be following your text" Suze in the TMS inbox
1419: The rain is "light but persistent" according to Simon Hughes and Colin Croft on TMS, who are discussing the geography of St Lucia - such as the Pitons (two volcanic mountains) and the self-styled "world's only drive-in volcano" at Sulphur Springs. I was in St Lucia myself between the Antigua and Barbados Tests, and I can tell you that Sulphur Springs really does pong like a chemistry lab, but Simon Mann's right (below) - St Lucia is a lush, verdant, pretty island, a lot less "touristy" than some others in the Caribbean.
"St Lucia is a lovely island with a lovely climate. The setting's a bit like the Rose Bowl (without the M27, while the ground is a bit like the one in Bloemfontein which they keep changing the name of" Simon Mann on TMS
"How about the Elton John song for all 12th men - I'm Still Stand-In!" Steve Mitchell, London, in the TMS inbox
Which reminds me, I'd love to know what benefit Adil Rashid has got from being made to carry the drinks for the entire Windies tour. Surely if he's in contention for the World Twenty20 or the Ashes, they could have given him a game or two here?
1403: Now the bad news - it's raining in St Lucia (just for a change). The covers are all on, the TV guys have their brollies up and apparently we're going to have an inspection in an hour.
Still, this gives us the chance to spark some debate. Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year were announced earlier today - England's James Anderson, Durham's County Championship-winning captain Dale Benkenstein, South Africa pair Mark Boucher and Neil McKenzie, and the shock choice: England's World Cup-winning batter Claire Taylor, the first woman cricketer to have been honoured in the "Wisden Five". So who deserves their place, who doesn't, and who has been unfairly left out? Remember the Wisden criteria - you can only be named in it once, and it usually reflects the previous year's county season (hence the inclusion of the South Africans). REPORT: Taylor named in Wisden Five Cricketers of the Year
1400: Afternoon, everyone. It's been one of those tours that has felt like it's never going to end - but I can assure you this is the final game of England's West Indies tour. What's more, with the ODI series level at 2-2, we have a "decider" on our hands.
No team news yet, although the Telegraph reckons that having failed to field a front-line spinner in the last game, England will bring in off-spinner Gareth Batty for paceman Steve Harmison. For West Indies, injured spinner Nikita Miller is replaced in the squad by fellow slow left-armer Sulieman Benn - Nikita's absence thus depriving me of an entire line of Elton John gags. But what is it about EJ song titles and left-arm spinners? I refer you to "Nikita" Miller, "Daniel" Vettori and even Sulieman "Benn-ie and the Jets"?
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