Stewart celebrates 100th Test with a century
Old Trafford, close of play: West Indies 157; England 196 for three
Alec Stewart found the best possible way to celebrate his hundredth Test match: with a dominating century that took England from the brink of disaster to a position of clear superiority by the end of the second day's play. With him was debutant Marcus Trescothick, who fought his way through a torrid first hour to share with Stewart England's largest ever partnership against West Indies at Old Trafford.
Earlier England had done well to dismiss West Indies for 157 just after lunch, but once again the pace bowling of veterans Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh set them back as they sought to capitalise on their advantage, three wickets falling for 17 runs before Stewart came to the wicket.
West Indies resumed at their overnight score of 87 for four. Most of the early running came from Ramnaresh Sarwan, against bowling by Darren Gough and Andy Caddick that was not quite as accurate or as threatening as on the first day. Jimmy Adams seemed to have set his sights on survival but, when still on his overnight 16, he enjoyed the most fortuitous of escapes when he played Caddick hard on to his stumps without dislodging a bail.
The first wicket finally came with the first ball after the drinks break, Sarwan moving across his stumps to be lbw to Dominic Cork for a valuable 36. West Indies were 118 for five, and this was to prove the turning point of the innings. Ridley Jacobs (5) was deceived and bowled by a yorker from Caddick, while Adam's dogged vigil came to an end on 24 when he snicked Craig White low to Graham Thorpe at third slip, the fielder's third catch of the innings. At 130 for seven, West Indies had only their bowlers left, and they slid to 157 all out shortly after lunch. Cork took four wickets for 23 runs, Caddick three and Gough two. The last six wickets fell in 86 balls for 39 runs. It was a fine performance by England, but that score would be put in its proper perspective by the quality of the English batting. The start of the England innings would be crucial.
Ambrose and Walsh applied full pressure, giving nothing away. Only three runs came in the first ten overs, and England were reduced to 17 for three, all to Walsh. Mike Atherton (1) was caught by Sherwin Campbell at second slip, Nasser Hussain (10) by Adams in the gully, and Thorpe first ball was deceived and trapped lbw by a slower delivery. This 17 included a six by Hussain off Rose that had actually been caught by Walsh on the fine-leg boundary, only for the fielder to step back over the line. Trescothick had a fearsome introduction to Test cricket but fought with character to survive the early onslaught. The arrival of the perky Stewart soon changed the atmosphere in the middle, though. He and Trescothick weathered the storm until tea, when England were 47 for three.
Stewart played some fine drives through the covers after the break, overtaking Trescothick and becoming the first English player in the series to score a fifty. Trescothick followed him, reaching his landmark by swinging Adams over midwicket for six. As Stewart approached his 14th Test century the partnership passed 161 to become the highest for any wicket for England against West Indies at Old Trafford; the individual milestone came just before the close. Stewart finished the day on 105, with Trescothick 65, of a total of 196 for three. England are 39 runs ahead with seven wickets still in hand.