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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 18:54 GMT

A day to forget
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

With three make-or-break matches to come, this was as flat a performance as England were capable of producing without actually losing.

We must, of course, give the Namibians great credit for taking the game to England, and JB Burger in particular for the innings of 85 which won him the man-of-the-match award.

But England should have thrashed the Namibians in the same emphatic manner in which they were disposed of by Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

On this showing, England stand no chance of qualifying for the Super Six stage of the World Cup.

Jan-Berry Burger celebrates his fifty
JB Burger had a day to remember, not England

I have some sympathy for England's batsmen.

The pitch at St George's was especially slow and low which made it difficult to get after the Namibia medium pacers.

A couple of dreadful, loose deliveries picked up wickets too, and this can have the effect of stifling the other batsmen who become too scared to play a shot in case they are trapped as well.

England's 272 was a decent enough total, and the Namibians should have got nowhere near it.

However, after 28 overs they were 132 for two and, with storm clouds brewing, were 11 runs ahead on Duckworth/Lewis.

It was only after 37 overs, by which time they had lost another couple of wickets, that England had any control of the game.

This was entirely due to the lacklustre, ill-directed bowling that allowed Burger and Keulder to put on 97 for the third wicket through a mixture of clubbing blows and searing cuts.

For England, a bleak day, indeed, but one Namibia will remember for years

England bowled far too short, in order, one assumes, to intimidate the part-time Namibia batsmen.

However, the moment they saw how slow the pitch had become, they should have resumed business as usual and settled for throttling the scoring rate.

In fact, England were surprisingly defensive all day.

Threatened by the prospect of a rain-affected match, they then lost the services of Nasser Hussain with a stiff neck.

Given all that, surely their best policy would have been to play another attacking bowler - Harmison or Hoggard - which would have helped finish the match quickly.

As it was, Ronnie Irani got a game, batted at nine and was trusted with the ball only when victory was assured.

And, to cap it all, Trescothick was overlooked as captain with Alec Stewart - who was sacked after England's dismal last World Cup campaign - standing in for Hussain.

For England, a bleak day, indeed, but one Namibia will remember for years.





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