August 4, 2000

England, due to Alec Stewart's brilliance, fully in control

Courtney Walsh
Courtney Walsh
Photo © CricInfo

"Things really did not go according to plan. I had hoped that we could have been batting at least until tea on the 2nd day. That did not happen, and we really did not get it right when we went out to bowl. We started off okay, with Courtney (Walsh) and Curtly (Ambrose) bowling fairly well. It just did not happen after that, as England scored much too quickly for our liking. That is now behind us, so we have to concentrate on how we should approach the 3rd day, with how we should bowl and how we should back the bowlers up in the field. I do not think that our fielding was anything to write home about as well."

Cornhill Insurance

Jimmy Adams, the West Indian captain, seemed somewhat perplexed at the end of the 2nd day. He continued:

"We simply have to get seven wickets for as small a total as possible to bring ourselves back into this game on the 3rd day. We must aim for that, and execute that too. That is going to take a lot of discipline and hard work, but I still believe that we are capable of doing that. It will not be an easy job, but collectively, we shall have to work hard at it. I really do believe that we can achieve that breakthrough and get ourselves back into this game. I have seen this team turn games around in the past and I know that we can do it again. I will never lose faith or confidence in my team, as I know that they are capable at turning this around. We certainly have to play more consistent cricket. Not for an hour, not for a session, but for at least a day, and then for two days and then three days. If we can achieve that, then we will be in a very much more positive situation. That is all about team-work, everyone doing his bit."

Jimmy Adams may be the eternal optimist, but Alec Stewart, in his 100th Test, and Marcus Trescothick, in his first, have put England in a tremendously advantageous position at the end of Day 2. By that time, Stewart had joined just three other world class cricketers in making a century in his 100th Test match. Only West Indian Gordon Greenidge, Pakistani Javed Miandad and Englishman (Sir) Colin Cowdrey have achieved the feat so far apart from, now, Alec Stewart.

Stewart literally took the wind out of the West Indies sails, bludgeoning the fast bowlers, especially Reon King, for thirteen 4's as he amassed his 14th Test century, 3rd against the West Indies and his 2nd at Old Trafford, in only 136 balls and 172 minutes at the crease. Stewart was on fire, courageous and characteristically aggressive. Despite his team being 17-3, courtesy of the effervescent Courtney Walsh, Stewart, with great help from Trescothick, took on every thing the West Indies could throw at them and counter-attacked. It was batsmanship at it brutal best. While Trescothick played his normally organized game, despite being badly dropped by Wavell Hinds at square leg from a Franklyn Rose delivery, Stewart tore the attack apart.

"I really had no plan to come out and attack the bowling. I simply wanted to play my own game and it worked out well," said Stewart, "I knew that Walsh and Ambrose, great bowlers that the are, would have tried desperately to make the 157 that they (West Indies) made count. I got great support from Marcus (Trescothick) and he truly inspired me with his obvious poise at the crease in only his first Test. I simply played my own game and it worked. I could not tell why I have this purple patch in my batsmanship, but it is great to have not only played 100 Test matches, but to have made a century in it. I could not tell if this was better than the two I had in Barbados, but we won then, so this would be excellent if this could be topped off with a win too."

Jimmy Adams and the West Indies, both Courtney Walsh, who now has 470 Test wickets, and Curtly Ambrose, with 394 Test wickets notwithstanding, have a tremendously hard day ahead of them on Day 3. With England closing on 196-3, already a lead of 39, England have put themselves squarely into the driver's seat to win this Test. If the West Indies are to save it, they will have to bat well in the 2nd innings, and perhaps, just perhaps, we could get to the 5th day. The 2nd day certainly belonged to England even more than the 1st day did, thanks to the absolute brilliance of Alec Stewart and the obvious patience and playing within his limitations of Marcus Trescothick. Day 3 could be very painful for the West Indies.