England stage great escape

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss saluted his side’s never say die spirit after a thrilling 18-run win over West Indies prolonged their involvement in the World Cup.

England were staring down the barrel of a humiliating group stage exit while Andre Russell and Ramnaresh Sarwan were sharing a seventh-wicket stand of 72 in pursuit of 243.

But James Tredwell (four for 48) and Graeme Swann (three for 36) had other ideas, the former breaking the partnership and his fellow off-spinner in the wickets too, as the Windies’ last four fell for three runs.

Shock victories for both the Windies and Bangladesh in their final Group B matches against India and Bangladesh could still dash England’s hopes – but the percentage call is now firmly with them entering the knockout stages.

An almightily relieved Strauss said: “We’ve been inconsistent, no doubt. We haven’t played as well as we would like. We have pulled out results when needed, but now we must wait on other results – hopefully we have done enough to progress.

“This shows the spirit of the side – it is a close-knit unit. But we have to get better, no doubt about it.”

Earlier England were bowled out for 243, criminally inside 50 overs, as five of the top seven got in and all failed to post decisive scores.

The men from the Caribbean got off to a flyer in response with Chris Gayle smashing 43 from 21 balls and Darren Sammy making 41 from 29 deliveries faced.

But with those two back in the hutch England stemmed the tide thanks to their spin duo, allied to the medium pace of Ravi Bopara.

Some brutal hitting from Russell put the Windies back in command but England, Swann and Tredwell in particular, kept their nerve to see England over the finish line.

Tredwell, a journeyman county twirler, who has spent the entirety of this tournament on the sidelines as England’s forgotten man admitted he was surprised to be asked to come to his side’s rescue.

He said: “I was first of all delighted to get an opportunity to play and then take it and get a few wickets. I was a little bit surprised to get the call. Hopefully  I’ve taken my chance.”