WEST INDIES v ENGLAND 1953-54

First Test Match

WEST INDIES v ENGLAND 1953-54

Toss: West Indies. Test debuts: West Indies - M.C.Frederick, J.K.C.Holt, C.A.McWatt; England - A.E.Moss.

A game of many fluctuations which roused intense excitement finally turned in favour of West Indies through a second England landslide in excellent batting conditions. Influenced by the moderate performance of the West Indies batsmen against Australia's pace attack in 1951-52 and expecting a fast pitch similar to that of the opening colony game, the England selectors picked four fast bowlers.

Instead the pitch, resembling polished marble, played appreciably slower than in the Jamaican match. England thus did well to restrict West Indies, who lacked Worrell (unfit) to 331 for six by tea time on the second day. Then came the first of their several black periods. In the next hour Gomez and McWatt took 60 runs from Statham and Trueman using the new ball. McWatt, a left-hander who struck powerfully, enjoyed remarkable luck, being missed from successive balls when 14 and altogether five times before reaching 50. Only one of the chances was easy.

Flight and change of pace, skilfully exploited by Ramadhin and Valentine, brought about an England batting debacle, but West Indies lost their first six second innings wickets for 119. Impatience at their inability to score freely against defensive bowling, some down the leg side, cost several batsmen their wickets. McWatt, more sound than in the first innings, helped Weekes (twelve fours) in another seventh wicket recovery before a declaration which left England nine hours and a half to make 457 to win.

With the outfield extremely fast, this was not an impossible target, and Watson (sixteen fours) and Hutton opened with a century stand notable for confidence and certain stroke-play. May took over where Hutton left off and England finished the fifth day 227 for two.

All continued well on the last day until Stollmeyer switched to negative tactics. Gomez and Kentish conceded only 23 runs in the last hour before lunch, and just before the interval May, in frustration, groped for a ball outside the leg stump. In an instant the situation changed. An hour after lunch the match was over, seven wickets having toppled in that time for 39 runs, of which the last pair, Bailey and Moss, made all but eight. Apart from that of Bailey, who batted three and a half hours in the match without being dismissed, the resistance was feeble. Kentish gained his success by accurate medium-fast bowling at or outside the stump to an on-side arc of seven men.

Two unhappy incidents underlined the intensity of some of the feeling of the crowd. Stollmeyer was booed on three separate occasions for not enforcing a follow-on and physical attacks, fortunately not serious, were made on the wife and son of umpire Burke, presumably because he gave out Holt when the local batsman was within six runs of a century in his first Test. In the second West Indies innings Lock was no-balled once for throwing.

© John Wisden & Co