July 12, 2002

West Indies A flourish at Liverpool

Veterans Neil Fairbrother and Graham Lloyd made runs but a catalogue of poor running kept West Indies A on top of their tour match with Lancashire. Fairbrother hit 101 and Lloyd 68 as the home side responded to a commanding West Indian first innings with impressive gusto. Devon Smith had been the star of that innings, with 181 in a six and a half hour stay at the crease before he was last out.

Fairbrother and Lloyd added 158 for the fourth Lancashire wicket in a little over two hours. The evening session saw West Indies A take charge, as Lancashire were reduced 279 all out.

A mix-up with Lloyd bought Fairbrother's innings to end. As an act of penance, and in a move which must have doubled the expletive count in the dressing room, Lloyd ran himself out the very next ball. To complete a bizarre hour, Ryan Driver (5) was also caught short for the third run out of the innings.

Lancashire lost Jamie Haynes and Kyle Hogg to Reon King and Sulieman Benn respectively soon after tea as they threw away an excellent position. After a short rain delay, the same bowlers returned to wrap up the innings. Daren Ganga (11 not out) and Chris Gayle (23 not out) did not waste the ten overs available before the close, hitting 38 to extend the West Indian lead to 128.

Fairbrother is a special cricketer. He is an excellent professional, hits the ball crisply, and is as capable of smashing boundaries as he is at nudging singles. He reached his century from 121 balls, including 17 fours. It was the 47th century of a fine career.

Conversely, Lloyd is an enigma. It is never quite possible to tell what sort of performance the Accrington-born right-hander will give. Generally, he likes to play his shots, and today everything looked like working. After spending a year in the wilderness in John Crawley's last year of captaincy, Lloyd has been given more opportunities under Warren Hegg.

The pair, both former England internationals, played with great assurance. Fairbrother in particular was always busy, nudging at every ball, chipping into the gaps, and punctuating his innings with fierce front and back foot shots. They looked totally at ease, and it is only right that the visiting bowlers were credited with neither wicket.

Earlier, Lancashire had wrapped up the West Indian innings quickly. Smith was last to go for 181, a third wicket for James Anderson. In reply, Lancashire lost Mark Currie and Alec Swann to Test bowler Darren Powell. David Byas soon gave a catch to Keith Hibbert, to give the pacey Tino Best his first victim.