March 27, 2000

Rose turns it around

Tonmy Cozier

A week ago, Franklyn Rose was at the heart of the Miracle of Port-of-Spain, helping to scatter Zimbabwe for 63 with his pace and swing and conjure up the remarkable first Test victory.

On the third day of the second Test yesterday, his role as saviour was in his unusual and little regarded guise of batsman, joining his single-minded captain, Jimmy Adams, in an unbroken, record eighth-wicket partnership of 124 that restored the balance that was distinctly tilting against the West Indies in a wildly fluctuating match.

They finally found the correct accord between the ultracaution that had handed the initiative to the Zimbabweans and the belligerence that had been flagrantly missing. And their 14 000 fellow Jamaicans, who filled Sabina Park to overflowing, celebrated the transformation as if Bob Marley had been reincarnated and he and the Wailers were doing their stuff in the middle.

Even against an attack sorely missing its injured spearhead, Heath Streak, the pair scored at a mere 2-1/2 runs an over.

Compared to what transpired earlier when the progress was even more pedestrian and given the significance of the revival, it was worth every shout, jump and wave. By the time fading light ended play with an over still scheduled, the ground was a frenzy of typical Caribbean bacchanal.

The West Indies were 295 for seven, just 13 behind, and the desperate fight for survival that seemed certain over the last two days had been converted into equity.

It is now by no means out of the question that they can pull off yet another victory against opponents who have again allowed a golden opportunity to slip from their grasp.

The fans had been drawn by the prospect of another Jamaican, the idolised Courtney Walsh, becoming Test cricket?s highest wicket-taker on home soil.

Walsh?s only appearance was during the tea interval when he was presented with a cheque for US$30 000 by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), but the Adams-Rose show was adequate compensation.

Adams was 87, within a few strokes of his first Test hundred in four years, a typical marathon that has occupied just over seven hours and 263 balls, included only five boundaries and demanded intense concentration.

Rose, who batted with equal determination and more flair for 152 balls, was 53, the first time he had reached such dizzy heights in his 15 Tests. His nine fours have come from a wide variety of authentic strokes. How good it was to see a West Indies fast bowler playing like a batsman.

It has been a critical innings for Adams personally.

Thrust into the captaincy on Brian Lara?s unexpected retirement, he has inherited a team short on confidence and, in Lara?s absence, on batting quality or experience.

His own recent form had been so patchy he had averaged just over 20 in his previous 16 Tests, a statistic not designed to make his job any easier.

Adams arrived late on the second afternoon with things already in strife at 85 for three, immediately to become 85 for four on Shivnarine Chanderpaul?s dismissal. He saw out the close at 108 for four, resumed with nine to his name and kept going at his own deliberate rate for the next 90 overs and six hours against steady, but hardly menacing, bowling.

His principal purposes were to restore equilibrium and then to deny Zimbabwe the time they would need to press for the result they need to make up for their dramatic defeat in the first Test.

He was losing the battle until Rose, with a Test batting average of less than ten, joined him in the eighth over after lunch when Curtly Ambrose edged a slip catch off the aggressive Neil Johnson.

By then, the stationary Wavell Hinds had snicked the first ball he received from leg-spinner Brian Murphy to slip after taking 50 minutes and 31 balls to add two to his overnight 14, and Ridley Jacobs had been well taken down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Andy Flower, gloving a pull off Henry Olonga?s first ball after lunch, the first with the second new ball.

That the total was 161 when it was taken after 90 overs told much of the story. The West Indies were going nowhere. They were fortunate to have even got that far. Jacobs appeared to have pushed his first ball, from Murphy, to silly point off the glove, but umpire Athar Zaidi did not have the aid of the television replay for a difficult decision.

After that, he put the oomph into the batting for the first time, a theme picked up by Rose from the moment he came in until he was well set and the game plan required him to remain with his captain for as long as he could.

Adams was not always in command. There were a couple of close lbw appeals and he offered a difficult chance to Johnson, diving wide to his left at second slip, off the left-arm medium-pacer Brian Strang when he was 35.

Characteristically, he could not be distracted from his goal, only allowing himself the freedom of a few shots once he was confident Rose had got the hang of things after tea. A square-cut and a pull to the boundary off Johnson were strokes of a batsman again beginning to regain his form and self-confidence.