August 20, 2000

Press rubs it in

Leeds - The British press yesterday predictably and understandably revelled in England's two-day innings victory in the fourth Test - and had a few words of condemnation for the West Indies performance as well.

In a reversal unprecented at a time when football rules British sport, the Test featured on most front pages, accompanied by pictures, and also superceded the first day of England's Premiership competition as the main item on the sports pages.

'Champagne for England' was the streamer across the Yorkshire Post's front page, above a photo of England's bowling heroes Darren Gough and Andy Caddick showering themselves in champagne after the match.

'Unbelievable!' was how the Daily Mail described the West Indies collapse to 61 all out.

'England in Wonderland" trumpeted The Guardian. 'England in madcap victory' was the Daily Telegraph's headline.

'England entered the world of fairytales with a win of historic and truly sensational proportions,' was John Ethridge's lead paragraph in The Sun.

There was praise everywhere for the bowling of Gough and Caddick, the batting of Michael Vaughan and Graeme Hick and the all-round England team efforts.

Some writers intimated it was payback time.

'It was a rout to equal any number of collapses...and to equal any number of beatings that the West Indies have inflicted on England in more than a quarter of a century of supremacy,' Christropher Martin-Jenkins commented in the Times.

Martin-Jenkins and others denigrated the West Indies performance.

'Gough and Caddick did truly bowl wonderfully well in ideal conditions for swing bowling but, as in the first innings, there was little resolution or strategy about the West Indies batting,' he wrote.

Michael Henderson was more forthright in the Daily Telegraph.

'The West Indies have been in decline for many years, sustained by the magnificence of their two fast bowlers, but this spineless show will have reminded Curtly Ambrose why his intention to retire after the Oval Test is rooted in common sense,' Henderson observed.

'Even before they had surrendered their second innings with batting of technical imperfection and moral servitude, the West Indies had disgraced their maroon caps with abject fielding and support bowling so poor that one's heart went out to Ambrose and Courtney Walsh,' he added.

There were harsh comments but they could not be said to be unjust.