August 5, 2000

West Indies fight back at Old Trafford

Cornhill Insurance

This was not as euphoric a day as the first two had been for England with West Indies top order batsmen making it a little more comforting for their side which had suffered the torment from England from the start of this third Test match.

Their second innings was much in contrast to the first as it took them within fifteen runs of wiping off a large 146 run deficit. They went about their business precisely as required under the circumstance with England bowlers struggling to penetrate the defence of the opening partnership.

There were times when both Sherwin Campbell and Adrian Griffith played and missed, especially at the earlier part of their innings, but neither could be removed. There were some upish shots from Campbell, in particular, which went perilously close to the outstretched hands of in-fielders but the batsman steadily picked up the runs.

They took the total to 96 before Campbell lobbed a catch to gully, off his glove, but by then he had reached his sixteenth Test half-century. He had played some attractive strokes, hitting nine boundaries. Perhaps, his concentration was somewhat disrupted by the appearance of the fourth streaker of the afternoon.

By stumps, Griffith had patiently reached 41 with his partner Wavell Hinds on 20, all of which came from boundaries reached with effortless leg-side strokes, two in succession off Craig White and two in one over from Darren Gough.

England will need to make early in roads into the tourists' innings on the fourth day to get back in full control of this match. As it stands at present, West Indies seem well placed to battle it out after being on the receiving end for two days. Their bowlers made little impression on England when Alec Stewart and Marcus Trescothick were in their record partnership on the second day.

On the evidence of their bowling so far in this Test, West Indies' selectors would be more than a little concerned about the lack of fire power in their attack.

With Curtly Ambrose insisting that this is going to be his last Test series and Courtney Walsh not too far away from making a similar decision, the cupboard appears to be bare of pace bowlers of quality.

It's a far cry now from the days when fast bowlers seemed to come off the production line in the Caribbean. For that one need not go as far back as the days of Wesley Hall, Charlie Griffith or Roy Gilchrist but more recently when Messrs Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft and the late Marshall were putting the fear of God in batsmen of all Test playing nations.

Just what Walsh at 37 and Ambrose 37 next month, mean to their side was illustrated yet again when England resumed their first innings on 196 for three this morning. Ambrose struck straightaway with the second ball, bringing an end to Stewart's memorable innings and two runs later his partner, Walsh bowled Trescothick. His 66 was the second highest score by an England opener on debut. Martyn Moxon had made 74 against New Zealand at Lord's in 1986.

After the excellent effort of the England batsmen on the second day, the remaining seven wickets went for 107 with the two ageing fast bowlers finishing with four wickets each. Ambrose , taking his tally of Test wickets to just two short of the exclusive four hundred club.