Prior powers England to victory
BIRMINGHAM: Matt Prior''s one-day international best of 87 set up England''s 58-run win in the third and final match of their series against the West Indies at Edgbaston here on Tuesday.
Victory saw England win the series 2-0 after a six-wicket win in Bristol on Sunday following Thursday''s washout at Headingley.
Wicket-keeper Prior''s innings was the centrepiece of England''s imposing total of 328 for seven in their permitted 50 overs.
That was their highest in this form of cricket against the West Indies, surpassing the 306 for five they made in a 55 overs per side match at the Oval in 1995. West Indies, chasing 329 to win, finished well short on 270 all out.
Prior has not been selected for next month''s World Twenty20 in England, with James Foster the hosts'' specialist wicket-keeper.
But the Sus+++ gloveman, who has been struggling with a right ring finger injury, was not too disappointed.
"I''m actually quite looking forward to having time off to get the finger right," man-of-the-match Prior told reporters.
However, he added: "It''s a World Cup in your home country, of course you would be gutted to miss out.
"But there are a huge amount of positives to have come out of the last month. I couldn''t have wished for a better Test series and to get the opportunity at No 3 (in the one-dayers) was fantastic."
Defeat completed a miserable tour for the West Indies, who suffered a pair of heavy losses in their preceding 2-0 Test series loss to England.
They only arrived in the early part of an English season after Sri Lanka, the scheduled tourists, had pulled out because of their players'' commitments in the Indian Premier League.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle, whose side were beaten by six wickets in the second one-dayer in Bristol after the series opener at Headingley was washed out, did not look especially enthusiastic about having to cut short his time in the IPL to come on this tour.
Asked if this was one of his worst experiences as West Indies captain, Gayle replied: "It is. It wasn''t the best but I have to give credit where it is due, England set the game up in the batting department."
Prior put on 149 for the third wicket with Owais Shah, who made an entertaining 75, after Gayle had won the toss and chose to field.
Prior, batting at No 3 in place of the injured Kevin Pietersen, saw his innings better the 52 he made against the West Indies at Edgbaston in 2007.
Miscast as a ''pinch hitter'' early in his career, Prior was happy to be batting at first-wicket down. "I was told you are batting at three in your own right," he said.
Gayle - a man whom the tourists would have been looking to for a big score - fell for just 11 when he miscued a pull off Stuart Broad to Ravi Bopara at mid-on.
And when England captain Andrew Strauss held a brilliant one-handed catch in the covers off Stuart Broad to get rid of Ramnaresh Sarwan, the West Indies had slumped to 22 for two.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a class player in all forms of the game, steadied the ship with an innings of 68 and put on 82 with wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin (45).
But the run-rate was always against them and when they both fell in quick succession, Ramdin departing after a diving one-handed catch by Prior off James Anderson, the West Indies were 189 for six and the game all but over.
England openers Strauss (52) and Bopara (49) made a solid start.
The fifty came up in 62 balls and Bopara continued to find the boundary with some superb square-cuts and drives in a spell of four fours in nine balls. But Bopara was one short of his fifty whe he played on to Dwayne Bravo.
Strauss, who has opted out of the World Twenty20, did get to fifty, off 65 balls with seven fours, but his next ball saw him stumped by wicket-keeper Ramdin off giant spinner Sulieman Benn.
Strauss''s Middle+++ colleague Shah completed a run-a-ball fifty in flamboyant fashion with a wristily pulled six off Bravo that also brought up a century partnership with Prior.