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Jamaica keep Lions at bay

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James Harris

James Harris claimed two early wickets and another two during a Jamaica collapse, but the Lions narrowly failed to force victory

England Lions ended their tour of the West Indies one wicket away from topping the WICB regional four-day championship table.

Jamaica hung on by the slenderest of margins to salvage a draw at Sabina Park today, denying the Lions the victory that would have seen them finish top.

Set 275 to win in a little under two sessions, Jamaica survived a rocky start and late collapse to close on 184 for nine despite James Harris and Danny Briggs claiming 4-42 and 4-56 respectively.

Although a 12-point victory haul eluded them, the Lions’ three points were enough to secure a more than creditable joint third place in the table alongside Jamaica. The tourists will not compete in the semi-finals because they fly home today ahead of the English domestic season.

That the Lions went so close to pulling off what would have been a remarkable win owed much to their healthy progress with the bat this morning.

They converted their overnight 149 for three into 292 for four declared, thanks to captain James Hildreth’s 77 not out, 42 from James Taylor and Craig Kieswetter’s lively unbeaten 36.

Credit must also go to Jamaica for the initially positive approach to their pursuit, albeit one that cost them Simon Jackson, Danza Hyatt and Marlon Samuels in reaching 47.

Harris was responsible for two of those wickets, but Briggs ended a recuperative fourth-wicket stand of 99 between Chadwick Walton and Brendan Nash by bowling the latter for 49.

Harris had Tamar Lambert taken by Jimmy Adams - the first of five wickets to tumble for just nine runs as the Lions seized control - before Briggs removed Walton, for 53, and Andre Dwyer in the space of three balls.

Bevon Brown’s duck spanned 19 deliveries - he too succumbed to Briggs - and Wavell Hinds spent 57 balls making seven.

Hinds’ dismissal left the last-wicket pair to survive seven tense deliveries, but Jason Dawes showed similar resistance to bat out the final over. He finished unbeaten on one from 31 balls.

While the Lions’ disappointment was acute, they can take great heart from a hugely encouraging tour.

Briggs, whose second-innings haul gave him match figures of 9-177, finished as the competition’s most prolific bowler with 33 wickets at 18.87 apiece.

Jade Dernbach took 19 at an average of 15.63 before winning a call-up to the England one-day squad, while Hildreth scored 546 runs at 60.66 and James Taylor 527 at 58.55. Only Samuels managed more.

Kieswetter and Andrew Gale also averaged above 40 and Adams, at 39.90, a shade under.

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