August 7, 2000

Weather forces premature conclusion to Third Test

Cornhill Insurance

England began the final day knowing that a quick breakthrough by their bowlers might just give them an outside chance of victory in the Third Test against the West Indies. Although they took one quick wicket, this was not to be, but at lunch they looked well on their way to securing the draw that was now their only realistic option. In the event, most of the afternoon session was lost to rain, with bad light finally ending a match that had so much potential for a fine finish.

The day began with West Indies 381 for six, 235 runs ahead, in their second innings. Three runs were added before Franklyn Rose (10) moved across his stumps to be trapped lbw by Craig White. Curtly Ambrose (36 not out) played some lusty strokes, including a six into the sightscreen off Robert Croft, as he and Ridley Jacobs (42 not out) ran up a brisk unbroken partnership of 54 before Jimmy Adams declared at 12.05. The West Indian total was 438 for seven.

England needed, in theory, 293 to win in a minimum of 71 overs, a task that was never likely. The highest winning fourth-innings total at Old Trafford in more than 100 years of Test cricket is only 145 for seven, in 1955 when South Africa beat England.

Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were not at their best, however, and after surviving a few magnificent deliveries early on Mike Atherton and Marcus Trescothick settled in with an increasing degree of comfort. By lunch they had put on 43 together and were 15 and 26 not out respectively.

They continued for 25 minutes after the interval before a period of black comedy, where the rain initially drove the players from the field and every time the umpires stepped on to the field to restart the game the rain returned. 56 minutes were lost, which made a draw more likely, barring a disastrous England collapse.

Atherton (28) fell to a catch at the wicket, pushing outside off stump to Walsh after an opening stand of 61. Two runs later, however, further drizzle caused a further interruption, with Trescothick still unbeaten on 31.

Tea was taken and play resumed at 4.50, although by now there was no realistic chance of a result. Hussain enjoyed a rare piece of luck, dropped at the wicket when still on 1, and was unbeaten on 6, when play was called off due to bad light at 5.20 with the score 80 for one. Trescothick, not out with 38, will carry a Test average of 104 into his next Test match.