England 172-5 (Pietersen 48, Benn 2-23) beat
West Indies 146 (Flintoff 5-19, Anderson 2-32) by 26 runs
Not so much a son of York making a glorious summer out of England's winter of discontent, but a son of Lancashire bringing a smile to England players and supporters: an Andrew Flintoff hat-trick helped England seal a series-clinching 26-run win over the West Indies in the decisive fifth One Day International in Gros Islet, St. Lucia.
England reached 172 for five in 29 overs in the rain-reduced match before Flintoff picked up five for 19 as the West Indies were bowled out 146 in reply with England bowling and fielding superbly.
Kevin Pietersen (48) and Ravi Bopara (44) top scored while an unbroken half-century partnership between Paul Collingwood and Matthew Prior, including 23 runs from two batting Power Play overs, helped the tourists put a competitive total on the board.
Rain prevented the match starting on time and after England were put into bat, they lost captain Andrew Strauss early when he was caught at square leg by Dwayne Bravo trying to pull Ravi Rampaul for three.
Fortunately for England, Bopara and Pietersen were not about to throw their wickets away and they added 80 with some sumptuous strokes, Bopara hitting two sixes and Pietersen one. Pietersen was dismissed when he cut Sulieman Benn to Darren Sammy, who at first glance appeared to have taken a sharp catch but replays suggested that he dived over the ball as it bounced, surfacing, so to speak, with it in his hands.
Bopara was then caught by Denesh Ramdin when he tried to slog Kieron Pollard and his departure was the catalyst for a mini-collapse as Owais Shah (6) and Andrew Flintoff (3) fell in quick succession as with pace taken off the ball, England lost four wickets for 24 runs.
Collingwood, unbeaten on 35 and Prior, not out on 25, rescued them with some hard hitting at the death, Collingwood clubbing two fours and a six.
Pollard closed with two for 31, Benn with two for 23, also picking up his 50th wicket in One Day cricket when he had Shah caught by Lendl Simmons at long-on.
England started their quest for an elusive series victory in perfect fashion when James Anderson had Chris Gayle caught at second slip by Andrew Flintoff as he followed up a wide with a ball that Gayle had to play at just outside off stump.
Ramnaresh Sarwan played some delightful strokes, driving and pulling Stuart Broad for boundaries and flicking Anderson for another four, effectively hiting both out of the attack before he tried to cut Flintoff and only succeeded in edging to wicket-keeper Prior for 23 in 28 balls.
Lendl Simmons (17) followed soon after when he also tried to take Flintoff on, spooning the ball up to Broad at mid-on.
Just as West Indies' slower bowlers had brought them back into the contest, so England's medium pacers Dimitri Mascarenhas and Collingwood stemmed the flow of runs and although Shivnarine Chanderpaul (13) connected with a pull stroke off the former that raced to the fence, the same shot off the latter brought a top edge and simple catch for substitute fielder Ian Bell at square leg.
Bravo had earlier smashed Mascarenhas over long-off for a maximum in brutal fashion and after Chanderpaul's dismissal, Pollard put Collingwood over long-on for six as the West Indies showed signs of fighting back.
This attack continued during their two overs of batting Power Play when Bravo smashed Flintoff for four and Pollard hammered Broad for another six, this one over cover, but the bowler came back strongly to have Bravo (33) caught at cover point by Flintoff. Pollard's six had brought up the half-century partnership, but England ended the Power Play back in the driving seat.
It left them five down and needing 49 to win in 30 balls and that became six down with 29 balls when Pollard (30) tried a straight hit off of James Anderson. Instead of clearing the ropes for a third time, he was well taken by Collignwood running in from long-on and in two balls, the danger men were both gone.
With no time to play themselves in, it was down to Ramdin (12) and Sammy to pull off something special. Ramdin pulled Broad for four to leave the home side needing 38 to win from 18 balls. A flying edge from Ramdin to third man off of Flintoff gave the crowd hope but it was the England fans shouting one ball later when Ramdin played on trying to flick to fine leg.
Ravi Rampaul strode to the crease with a big smile on his face but left almost immediately when Flintoff had him trapped in front with a full toss for a golden duck, and that was the cue for both the locals to start pouring out of the ground and for Flintoff to york Benn to complete the hat-trick.
He almost emulated Lasith Malinga's four in four but Fidel Edwards was able to dig out another searing yorker and Flintoff had to be content with career-best figures and joining team-mates Anderson and Steve Harmison in taking ODI hat-tricks for England.
The match ended in high farce when Sammy decided to try and run two to long-off, was run out by yards and England celebrated a first ever ODI series victory in the Caribbean.
© Cricket World 2009