February 16, 2001

Jacobs leads Leewards run-spree

England A found themselves under pressure in Anguilla today when Leewards Islands made the most of some wayward bowling and a fast scoring track.

Ridley Jacobs
Ridley Jacobs : Strokeplay
Photo CricInfo

Despite the first day of this final round Busta Cup match being shortened to just over 81 overs due to rain, Leewards rattled up 300 for five, Alex Adams and Ridley Jacobs providing some of the best entertainment of the tournament so far with some ebullient strokeplay.

On such a lively pitch, control of the game was always going to lie with the side that made the least mistakes so a disappointing day for England A started when skipper Mark Alleyne lost the toss, giving the chance for Leewards' batsmen to make first use of a pitch which promised plenty of runs.

The onus was on the seamers to stem the flow but Alex Tudor, who missed the last two games with a side strain, took his time to find his rhythm, his first four overs going for 25.

In keeping with the recent weather patterns, a monsoonal shower swept across the island just 20 minutes into play and the groundstaff scurried on with the covers to protect the glossy sheen that groundsman Dale Rogers has worked hard in recent weeks to achieve.

Rogers, a mechanical engineer who tends the Webster Park pitch in his spare time, has produced the best track in the Caribbean, he says, and he is not far wrong. Flat, quick and bouncy, it offered something for everyone with runs coming thick and fast for the batsmen and bowlers rewarded for consistent line and length.

The first half hour break for rain proved worthwhile for England A, who exploited a lapse in concentration by the batsmen. Junie Mitchum failed to get behind the line of a ball from Chris Silverwood and mistimed a hook shot down to long leg. The catch was safely taken by Tudor, which went some way in making up for the hammering he took earlier.

He made up more lost time after changing ends when he struck with two wickets in three balls, Stuart Williams eventually caught in the slips after a fumble from wicketkeeper James Foster and Sylvester Joseph bowled for a duck.

But the introduction of spin into the attack gave Adams and Wilden Cornwall a chance to find their feet and Cornwell pounced, hitting four identical boundaries off the back foot off in one Graeme Swann over.

The onslaught continued until the stand was worth 69 runs when Cornwall, flashing wildly at a wide ball from Tudor, edged it to slip giving Swann the chance to wreak his revenge.

A second stoppage for rain served to focus the mind of Adams and the rest of the day belonged to him and later to Jacobs, who on Tuesday landed in Anguilla following his exhausting three month tour of Australia.

The fielders could do little about the barrage of boundaries coming from the blade of the powerful Adams as he found gaps all round the wicket with a composure and instinct that makes him an exciting prospect for the future.

By the time he fell lbw to Jon Lewis, he had made 75, in an attractive innings that included 11 fours. His departure paved the way for another onslaught, this time by Jacobs who seemed relieved that after three months of facing Glenn McGrath, he was back in paradise able to play whatever shot he chose to good effect.

At stumps, he had made his way to a quickfire 88, his partner Carl Tuckett increasing in confidence with an unbeaten 43.

Afterwards, coach Peter Moores admitted England A's bowling had fallen below the normal standards shown on this Busta Cup tour.

"It was a different sort of wicket with much more pace and bounce and one of those where anything too full or too short or wide was penalised," he said.

"But you have to give them credit - they played really well and took the game to us, keeping the pressure on us all day. Jacobs and Adams were particularly strong. In all our previous games, we have been able to squeeze people and allow them to make mistakes but today we did not bowl well enough and on a proper pitch like this, you have to get the ball in the right area every time. We bowled too many `four' balls and paid the price," Moores said.