West Indies have a major task ahead
Ramnaresh Sarwan - playing in only his
Photo © AllSport
The start of the third Test almost feels like the start of a new Test series after a yawning five-week gap. On a day when Manchester enhanced it's reputation of providing wet condition when it's least required, play was restricted to just three hours.
In the past, the trend, which was primarily fashioned in Australia, was to bisect a Test series with a plethora of one-day matches; not so much in England but certainly in many other countries.
Sensibly, that was altered and the limited-overs games now, usually, either preceed or follow the Tests. However, with Euro 2000 taking up most of June, a clash of interest for the enthusiasts of the game of the small leather ball and its bigger brother, was avoided and the limited-overs competition divided this Test series.
The day will, however, be monumental for two members of the team, both former captains, Alec Stewart and Michael Atherton who are making their hundredth appearance for England. It is the first time in Test history two players have reached this milestone in the same match. While the start of play was delayed by an hour, with mopping up operations taking place, the two centurions ceremoniously, collected their momentoes.
In between three stoppages for intermittent showers, only forty two overs play was possible during which England's bowlers rapidly gained ascendency. Jimmy Adams, the West Indies captain, had decided to make first use of a dry pitch which did appear to have a slight tinge of green and which had to remain under covers for much of yesterday.
Despite the pitch at Old Trafford having been of greater assistance to spinners on the county circuit this season - a fact that West Indies' captain may well have noted - England's pace bowlers found considerable movement. They bowled with discipline, keeping excellent line and length.
Darren Gough and Andy Caddick were quick to strike with Gough moving one away slightly from Sherwin Campbell in the third over and three overs later Caddick trapped Adrian Griffith leg before wicket. It was the ideal start for England with West Indies two down for twelve. Wavell Hinds and Brian Lara then appeared to be putting up a stand which hinted that a recovery was on the way. Lara was particularly cautious having survived a confident appeal for lbw on the first ball from Caddick.
He had taken 19 balls to get off the mark and Caddick meanwhile had completed his accurate first spell of nine overs, conceding only eight runs for his wicket. However, with the total on 49 both batsmen departed. Hinds, on 26, was most unfortunate to be given out, caught behind, to a ball that he did not appear to make contact with.
Eight balls later Lara fenced at Gough and edged the ball to third slip. It was a restrained innings from such a fine stroke-maker, he had batted for over an hour and a half for 13.
Much will now depend on the last pair of the tourists' specialist batsmen Adams and the twenty-year-old Ramnaresh Sarwan who is playing in only his third Test match. They took the total to 87 for four and have a major task ahead in re-building the innings which has been severely dented by England.