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Wharf relives Browne and Bradshaw effort

NatWest Series

Keep up to date with England's NatWest Series against West Indies with our in-depth day-by-day reports - plus all the reaction, highlights and photos

If West Indies find themselves seeking inspiration ahead of Tuesday's NatWest Series encounter with England at the Kia Oval, they would be well served to remember their historic triumph at the venue in 2004.

Brian Lara’s side went into the Champions Trophy final as underdogs, with the hosts buoyed having ended a 14-match one-day international losing run against Australia in the semi-finals.

Things started badly on September 25 for the hosts as West Indies won the toss and elected to field on a bowler-friendly surface that no doubt would have excited England's pace attack.

Among those, Alex Wharf was relatively new to international cricket having made his debut earlier that month against India.

He made a dream start, claiming the wickets of Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in the first encounter of a series England eventually won 2-1.

He told “It was unbelievable to get picked for India and then obviously start as well as I did. I could not have asked for anything better and it was magic.

Alex Wharf, Ian Bradshaw & Courtney Browne

Ian Bradshaw & Courtney Browne celebrate while a dejected Alex Wharf walks away in the background after West Indies win the Champions Trophy in 2004

“To beat India, with their team, ensured we went into the tournament high on confidence.”

Wharf went on to play every game of England’s Champions Trophy campaign, culminating in the final - where Marcus Trescothick’s 104 was the key contribution in a total of 217.

“We thought 218 was quite a good target,” he said. “Obviously, playing against West Indies late in September, you think your chances are good.

“It was always going to be a tight score, but it could have been a winning score - especially with the wicket doing a bit and West Indies wanting to play a few shots.

“As a bowling unit, we had bowled well all tournament and we took confidence in that. We were hoping we could get a few early on.”

A few early wickets were exactly what England got as West Indies stumbled in their reply, slipping to 147 for eight.

At that stage, Michael Vaughan’s side appeared certain winners yet Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne had other ideas.

“We got a few early wickets and kept them at bay for quite a while,” Wharf added. “After that, I just remember it being really dark.

“It was pitch black and I remember Harmy (Steve Harmison) bowling at what I would consider the speed of light; I think he bowled a delivery at 97mph.”

Despite the unfavourable conditions, Bradshaw and Browne batted in a manner that will forever go down in folklore, sharing West Indies’ highest partnership for the ninth wicket.

That astonishing unbroken 71-run stand ensured West Indian jubilation while England were left contemplating how they lost a contest they seemingly had wrapped up.

“I do not think you have ever done enough, but for them to come back and end up winning was a shock,” said Wharf. “It was obviously deflating but that is cricket.

“Whether they played better than us, I am not sure but they did well to get over the line and fair play to them.

“It was a great day and great experience and it was just a shame we lost really.”

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