THE OVAL: New Zealand beat England by one wicket
Justice was finally done off the last ball of the match at the Oval, when New Zealand won by one wicket off the last ball of the match, after it seemed that a disgraceful incident cost Grant Elliott his wicket half an hour before the end.
The batsman was charged to the ground as he tried to run a short single and it seemed that the umpires suggested to England that they should not appeal for the run-out.
To the fury of the New Zealand side and most of the 20,000 crowd, Collingwood declined, to provoke distasteful scene at the end of the match in which the Kiwis not only refused to go on the outfield to exchange greetings with the opposition, but when Collingwood tried to go into their dressing room, the door was shut in his face and he was barred.
The spirit of the game was in tatters thanks to Collingwood and his players, and if that sort of win-at-any-cost behaviour is on show in an ordinary one-day international with minimal rewards on offer, what on earth will it be like when the blinkered England cricketers are playing for Allen Stanford’s millions in Antigua?
Collingwood will regret for the rest of his career that he was not big enough to call Elliott back, as he admitted after the game. “The heat of the moment got to me, and I made the wrong decision. I asked the bowler if the collision was accidental and Ryan assured me that he went for the ball.”
Daniel Vettori then said, “I am glad that Paul apologised for the whole incident. We were very upset in the dressing room, and I have apologised to him for refusing him admission to our dressing room.
“That should be the end of it and we look forward to Lord’s on Saturday.”
Generous words, but Collingwood’s black mark besmirches his tenure of the one-day captaincy, because it was so clearly the wrong thing to do from every angle.
It took the shine from a game in which both sides held an advantage, only to shy it away with brainless cricket. England were well placed at 173 for four after 35 overs to reach a par score of around 280, but lost their last six wickets for 73, including a stupid run-out of Owais Shah, the top scorer with 68.
New Zealand were similarly placed at 176 four after 35 overs, with Man of the Match Scott Styris on 68 and Jacob Oram on 38 off 29 balls.
The tourists were cruising to victory with England’s main three pace bowlers only having six of the last 15 overs left, but firstly Oram was bounced out by James Anderson and then Styris was run out by the combined efforts of Graeme Swann and bowler Collingwood as he unwisely tried for a poor second run.
The Elliott dismissal came at 189 for seven, and Vettori soon went to leave Kyle Mills their main hope among the bowlers to win the match. Tim Southee helped to take the score to 233 when he was ninth out, splendidly thrown out by Ian Bell.
Mark Gillespie came in to the sort of situation number elevens dread, but blocked a maiden from Swann to leave Mills to face the 49th over from Collingwood.
He hit a massive six measuring 120 yards, but with every run important, could not leave himself on strike for all of the last over. Luke Wright bowled a wonderful 50th over in the tied match in Napier three months ago and all but did it again. The hapless Gillespie played four dot balls to leave one to tie needed off the last ball and two to win.
It took three minutes to bowl with at least six conferences before the near yorker was squeezed out and the shortest of singles produced an overthrow as four England fielders converged on the stumps, with nobody left to back up. The cricket gods smiled on the right side for once and New Zealand won by the narrowest margin.
The England innings was a mess. Wright showed again he is not an international opener. Bell played well enough but not for long enough and Kevin Pietersen mistakenly thought it a good idea to hit his second ball for six. Collingwood played on to leave Shah and Bopara to re-group at 101 for four after 22 overs.
It was almost a match within a match, because a batsman will drop out when Andrew Flintoff returns against South Africa in August. Bopara had done all the hard work when he hit a slower one from Gillespie to mid-on, and then Shah ran himself out, going for a second run to the bowlers’ end off his partner’s hit.
Tim Ambrose failed again, this time top edging a hook to mid-wicket and Swann and Stuart Broad were caught by James How. A score of 245 was only good enough if Brendon McCullum went quickly, which he did with an edge off Ryan Sidebottom, and the New Zealanders lost their nerve.
Thanks to Styris (dropped on nought, 27 and 28) they did not, but what should have been a great close game will be overshadowed by Collingwood’s monumental misjudgment that will live with him for life.