June 29, 2000

England's Cricket Team: Fighting for Pride, History and a Series

By close of play of the 1st day of this Test match, # 1503 overall, the West Indies had given away, or was it England had taken away, most of the advantages they, the West Indies, may have had at the end of the 1st session, when they were 70-0. In the true context of the day's play, England are certainly in the ascendancy, as with the start that they had, the West Indies should not have scored less than 350. They will not get to 300!

Somehow, it seemed as if the West Indies were bent on self-destruction. They moved from being 80-0, and 162-1, to being 186-5 in next to no time, thanks mainly to the truly irresistible Dominic Cork; (England's selectors should be garroted, tarred and feathered, and shot for leaving him out of the 1st Test); and the great heart and determination of Darren Gough. By the time Umpires Venkateraghavan and Hampshire called it too dark to continue, with only 4 deliveries of the day left, the West Indies were 267-9, a far cry from the 350-400 envisaged earlier.

England made four changes from the last game, with opener Michael Vaughan, all-rounder Craig White, all-rounder Dominic Cork and fast bowler Matthew Hoggard, the latter making his Test debut, replacing fast bowler Ed Giddins, all-rounder Andy Flintoff, off-spinner Robert Croft and Nasser Hussain, out injured.

The West Indies, after much speculation and probably deliberation, decided to continue with the injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul, but replaced Chris Gayle with Adrian Griffith, who made a century last week against New Zealand "A".

Up to when England won the toss and elected to bat, everything was going to plan for the West Indies, as it could well have been that this was a toss, and decision, had the West Indies won it, that they might have been somewhat confused about. By winning the toss, England took that worry away from the West Indies.

Dominic Cork is very good for Darren Gough. The two always bowl well in tandem, but they could be even more effective if they could have had another pair of good fast bowlers, or even another really fast bowler ahead of them and then perhaps a good spinner. When England left Croft out of the team, the only spinner in the squad, they backtracked on their plans for the left-handers, but perhaps understandably so. For a while, the English plan seemed to backfire, as Sherwin Campbell and Griffith got off to a great start.

Remembering that the last time he played at Lords, Campbell got 93 in a losing effort, courtesy of a dominant Dominic Cork, then, on his Test debut, with 7-43, the attitude of the West Indies openers were great to watch, very positive indeed.

By contrast, England were rather flat at the start, despite all of the hype that this game was the 100th Test to be played on this hallowed turf; the 50th anniversary of the first West Indies win in England; and 100 years since a West Indies cricket team first toured England, among so many other special statistics.

It was 48-0, with Griffith on 18, before anything of note happened. Griffith played away from his body a bit from a swinging delivery from Cork's first over, the resulting edge flying to Craig White at slip, where he promptly dropped the chance.

The 50 partnership came up in 13.4 overs, and in only 55 minutes. England, and their supporters, would have been wondering if they had made the correct decision to field first.

Soon after that, Campbell was also dropped, from the Cork again, as Graeme Hick and Mike Atherton contrived to spill a difficult chance.

When Campbell motored to yet another half century, his 15th in his 43 Test, including eight classy fours, especially his straight driving, he too must have had a thought of that special century, one at Lords. At lunch, future situations were looking very good for the West Indies at 79-0.

Whatever Adrian Griffith had for lunch should be banned, as it made him stupid, or high, or something. From the 2nd ball after lunch, the entire day's play, and perhaps the outcome of the match, certainly the outcome of the West Indies innings, changed permanently. The way he got out was so insipid in itself that Griffith would wonder for the rest of this tour what the hell happened here.

From that 2nd delivery after lunch, Griffith glanced Gough to fine-leg, for what most thought was an easy single. Somehow, Griffith saw differently, and called his partner, correctly his call, for an incorrect run, a crazy run. The ball was already in the hands of Andy Caddick when Griffith turned for the 2nd run. It was never on, even though Umpire Venkat still called for the television umpire to make the call. Griffith beat his pads with his bat, in disgust, at being run out for 27. Perhaps someone should have beaten him with the bat instead. The West Indies were 80-1.

Even with that, though, the West Indies still persevered with the positive stuff, and Wavell Hinds, while not altogether correct in his batting stance, seemed unaware of all of the history of Lords or what had gone before. He played some wonderful strokes, pummeling the bowling through the off-side as if it was his alone. In the meantime, Campbell was his old reliable self, looking on with admiration as his younger partner tore into England's, up to then, hapless attack.

Campbell had managed 82, including eleven 4's, and the score 162-1, when he tried to hook at a lobbing bouncer from Cork, the resulting top-edge taken well by Hoggard, his first Test catch, at fine -leg. Campbell had batted for 222 minutes, facing 155 deliveries, but spoiled it all by the shot he played to get out. He knew this as he trooped off wearily. That wicket not only dismissed him, but started the absolute disintegration of the West Indies innings. It was also Cork's 99th Test wicket.

From being 162-1 before Campbell fell, the West Indies were blown away with self doubt, some strange strokeplay, and some good, aggressive bowling too from England's premier fast bowlers. At tea, the West Indies were 172-2, still looking good, but continuing after the 2nd interval of the day.

Lara came, and quickly, Lara went. The airy-fairy shots of Edgbaston did not work here, as he drove at Gough with the high back-lift and flourish that is characteristic of Lara, the resulting edge greedily snapped up by Alex Stewart; Lara gone for 06, the West Indies 175-3. Even with the encroaching gloom, England's immediate future looked decidedly brighter. Indeed, at 4:25BST, the umpires decided that the surrounds were too dark, and left the field, only to return at 5:00BST. By then, Shiv Chanderpaul had also arrived at the crease.

The weather and the game then became much brighter, from England's perspective. Wavell Hinds had continued to a well made 59, his 50 coming in only 87 deliveries and including 10 luscious fours, when he too drove at the bowler, Cork this time, the easy catch again being snapped up by Stewart; West Indies 185-4; Dominic Cork's 100th Test wicket.

That was soon 186-5 as Jimmy Adams was palpably out LBW to Gough for 01, the batsman seeming to fall over a bit as the ball swung into him. By replay, it was a great decision by Umpire Hampshire.

By over # 78, and with the score 207, Ridley Jacobs had become the 6th batsman out, caught by Stewart off Cork for 10. Then Curtly Ambrose was caught by Mark Ramprakash off a bat-pad chance, from Cork, for 05; 216-7. Stewart, the captain, who took the 2nd new ball after 83 overs, was now enjoying his decision to field first and the response, especially after tea, from his two fast bowlers, Gough and Cork, had been truly inspiring.

Franklyn Rose fluttered a bit with luck and got away with it, hitting a six and two fours from Hoggard's 16th over. In all, he hit four fours and that six in his airy 29, putting on 37 precious runs with Chanderpaul, before he swung completely around a Gough special; out LBW for 29, West Indies 253-8. As if he was in sympathy with that dismissal, Chanderpaul himself did not last long afterwards, as he became the 9th wicket, bowled from the inside edge by Gough for 22; 258-9.

The day ended just a few deliveries short of the full quota with Reon King not out on 12 and Courtney Walsh not out on 1.

Both Darren Gough, with his ebullience, confident self, and Dominic Cork, with some swing, some guile and some great bowling too, put in yeoman service as England made a gallant effort to stay in this game, even with it being only one day old.

They did a magnificent job for their captain and their country, as, had the West Indies managed to make over 350, England would have effectively been shut out of the game. Gough finished with truly impressive figures of 21-5-72-4, while Cork had 24-8-39-4.

The first day of Test 2 was a combination of very good cricket in parts, firstly by the West Indies, and later, by England, coupled with some staid cricket by England initially, but more importantly, aided and abetted by some putrid cricket from the West Indies in especially the middle session.

England certainly has the advantage, even if miniscule, but perhaps a psychological one, coming into Day 2. At least the near capacity crowd on Day 1 could not complain. Remember, with all of those past records at Lords, there are still more records to be made. Day 2 could conjure up some specials.