August 5, 2000

England fight back after early West Indies breakthrough

Cornhill Insurance

Old Trafford, lunchtime: West Indies 157; England 253/7

England went in to lunch on 253 for seven wickets, rather a disappointment when they had anticipated a strong strengthening of their lead over the West Indies. But, after an early West Indian breakthrough, they were forced to fight their way back, with the calm figure of Michael Vaughan at the centre, and by the interval were 96 runs ahead with three wickets left.

England resumed at their overnight score of 196 for three. The overnight partnership lasted exactly two balls; Alec Stewart (105) fished at Curtly Ambrose's second ball, just outside off stump, and snicked a regulation catch to keeper Ridley Jacobs. Walsh, at the other end, was as usual the ideal partner and two runs later removed the gallant Marcus Trescothick for 66, a little fortuitously: the ball moved in to the batsman and would have missed leg stump, but it struck him on the pad and rebounded on to the wicket. England were now 198 for five, much of their advantage gone already.

Vaughan and Craig White saw off Ambrose and Walsh, but White had only 6 to his name when King moved a ball back in off the seam to bowl him through the gate; England 210 for six. Vaughan and Dominic Cork resisted stoutly and began to take on the West Indian fielders, taking risks at times but causing some of them to crack under pressure.

At 247 for six Ambrose and King took the second new ball, a crucial period. Ambrose did the trick with Cork (16), who pushed fruitlessly outside off stump to be caught at the wicket; England 251 for seven. Croft unconvincingly survived until the interval, with Vaughan unbeaten on 23 at the other end.