August 5, 2000

Fletcher left pondering missed opportunities as England falters

Staff and agencies

Cornhill Insurance

England coach Duncan Fletcher was left to rue a day of wasted opportunities after his team squandered its potentially match winning advantage on day three of a fluctuating Third Test against West Indies at Old Trafford.

Following a surrender which saw the tourists capture England's last seven first innings wickets for 107 and then move to within fifteen runs of wiping out the 146 run deficit for the loss of only Sherwin Campbell's wicket in the second innings, Fletcher admitted to frustration.

"I would have expected a bit more from the bowlers but it often happens like that when you get a big lead. It's getting the balance right with the time to attack and the time to defend," he said.

"We played the first two (days) very well and today we probably faltered a little bit. Obviously the first ten overs were crucial, if we'd got away by losing one wicket we'd probably have been happy with that. But we lost three.

"They've got two great bowlers in Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh who can bowl well on any wicket. If they strike, it makes life difficult for the batters.

"And then West Indies batted well. They put their heads down and Adrian Griffith (41*) showed he was very determined. He didn't play any loose shots and Sherwin Campbell (55) played a good innings.

"Now we've got to put on pressure on the fourth day, not let them get too many runs, too much of a lead. This has been a good wicket; the others in the series have suited the bowlers.

"The Lancashire guys say it generally stays a good pitch. The odd ball is a little bit uneven but not to the extent where some deliveries are keeping low and others are taking off.

"We are happy to get 303 and it was nice to see they struggled to knock over the tail-enders, who put up a commendable performance."

As for Campbell himself, he was satisfied with his team's fightback, especially in view of his own surprise at the way some balls reacted from the pitch.

"My target was just to go out there and bat and not think too much about the total, enjoy myself and be as positive as I could," he said, after compiling his defiant half century.

"Some balls are taking off from a length. That's good for us in a way as we are not batting last and England will have to worry about that. But there's two days left and it's too soon to predict anything.

"We came out positive in the morning and kept things as tight as possible. We came back raring to go and get things back in our favour.

"Alec Stewart batted very well, he got a good start and kept flowing. It was important to get him out early because while he was there we knew he would score quickly."