March 25, 2000

Goodwin spoils plan

Tonu Cozier

Kingston - Things didn't go strictly according to plan for West Indians on the field or beyond the Sabina Park boundary yesterday.

Zimbabwe's two most accomplished batsmen, Murray Goodwin and captain Andy Flower, combined with a lifeless pitch to spoil the opening day of the second Test for their 11 opponents and the 7 000 or so hopeful Jamaicans in the stands.

They had flocked in from early morning in the confident expectation of seeing their beloved Courtney Walsh overhaul Kapil Dev's record number of Test wickets and he and his fast bowling colleagues once more scatter the hapless Zimbabweans as they had done in the famous first Test victory at the Queen's Park Oval on Monday.

Instead, on a hard, bare, beige pitch without the grass covering of Queen's Park's, Goodwin and the left-handed Flower led a recovery from 40 for three at lunch with an untroubled partnership of 166.

Only in the fading afternoon light could the muted crowd again erupt in typical Caribbean celebrations when both Goodwin and Flower were out to successive balls in the difficult closing overs against Reon King and Franklyn Rose, entrusted the second new ball by captain Jimmy Adams in preference to his trusted stalwarts, Walsh and Curtly Ambrose.

It tilted the contest back to an even balance as Zimbabwe, batting first on winning the toss, finished 220 for five.

Goodwin, backing up too far on Flower's leg-side deflection off Rose, was run out by Wavell Hinds' swooping pick-up and return to Adams at the bowler's end for 113, his second Test century in his 17th Test.

Next ball, the left-handed Flower, palpably distraught by his partner's demise, offered no shot to a late inswinger from Rose from over the wicket and had his off-stump sent cartwheeling, out for 66.

Nightwatchman Brian Murphy and left-hander Alistair Campbell survived another six balls before umpires Eddie Nicholls and Athar Zaidi called play 4.2 overs before time in the fading light.

The eager Jamaicans, who had queued for hours during the week to buy tickets in enthusiasm triggered by the miracle of Port-of-Spain and Walsh's impending record, had to wait only until 40 minutes for their man to add to his collection.

He and Ambrose had the ball darting this way and that in the early exchanges and his leg-cutter that found the edge of Grant Flower's bat for a catch to the wicket-keeper drew him level with the New Zealander, Sir Richard Hadlee, on 431 and to within four of passing the Indian Kapil Dev's 434.

By lunch, the lively King had dismissed opener Trevor Gripper to a ghastly, mistimed hook that Walsh - who else? -plucked out of the air at mid-on and left-hander Neil Johnson, third ball, to an edge to Chris Gayle at first slip.

Zimbabwe were tottering and a happy afternoon was seemingly in store. Instead, another wicket did not fall for another 4-1/4 hours as the pitch rapidly lost its early preparation moisture and reduced the West Indian fast bowlers who had been so devastating five days earlier to mere trundlers.

Once more, as in Port-of-Spain, a couple of difficult catches were floored in the slips before lunch. One proved costly.

Goodwin, a short, compact right-hander, played much of his first-class cricket on the bouncy pitches of Perth, appearing for Western Australia, his parents' adopted home, before returning home two years ago.

It is an unbringing reflected in his penchant for the cut, pull and hook. The cut brought him most of his nine fours in his 4-1/4 hours in the middle, but it should also have brought his undoing.

Adams let a low, difficult chance off Rose spill from both hands, diving to his right, when Goodwin was 16.

Flower, a left-hander whose Test average of 45, if not his method, places him among the elite modern batsmen, followed his unbeaten, first innings 113 in Port-of-Spain with another untroubled performance, stroking six fours in his 66.

He never offered the slightest encouragement to the labouring bowlers until Rose's late beauty took care of him.

Until then - or, to be more precise, until the second new ball was claimed - the two Zimbabweans gathered their runs with little hindrance.

They attempted nothing rash, putting away the loose ball, mainly Chris Gayle's wayward off-spin, and accumulating 79 off 27 overs between intervals.

Adams sent down nine useful, but unthreatening, overs of left-arm spin, Ambrose and Walsh could make no impression once the ball lost its hardness and the pitch its brief, early life, and Gayle and Chanderpaul were used briefly in tandem to speed up the second new ball.

Goodwin and Flower were well entrenched but the crowd, if not Adams, sensed something.

They chanted their encouragement, virtually urged Adams to go beyond the two slips he initally set and jumped, waved and shouted their joy when both batsmen were dislodged.

It was just in time.