June 30, 2000

Drama at Lord's as wickets tumble - 2nd Test day two

Cricket is the most perverse of games, predicted at peril. In an astonishing day's play, twenty-one wickets went down and amazingly all four innings of the match made an appearance (either in part or complete) on the same day. That in itself could make the day unique. Certainly it was a day that will remain in the memory of a capacity crowd.

Excellent aggressive bowling from England with Andy Caddick leading the way with the most remarkable figures of five for 16 in 13 overs has put England in control of this Test and all depends now on how they bat in the second innings.

    Fortunes fluctuate -
    Ambrose and Walsh strike first

It was a day that saw fortunes of both sides fluctuate with the balance of play swinging in favour of one team and then the other. The day began with the West Indies first innings being wrapped up with the first ball of the day on the overnight score of 267.

Thereafter, any hope that England may have held of a substantial innings was rapidly dispelled as Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh dominated the play. England's batsmen gave little sign of making a recovery after the disastrous start to the innings. The first three wickets had gone before even reaching double figures. The batting struggled throughout the innings and the fact that they managed to reach a total of 134 before being dismissed was quite surprising.

It was a couple of loose overs that helped England. Franklyn Rose's first over went for 17 with Graeme Hick striking four boundaries. Alec Stewart then repeated Hick's feat with the same outcome in the penultimate over before lunch off the same bowler. England's innings was soon ended with Ambrose taking four for 30 and Walsh four for 43.

Having dismissed West Indies in the first innings for what would be regarded a modest total, England should have shown more application to build an innings. Their bowlers had provided them with the opportunity to take a firm grip on this match but once again the combination of Messrs Ambrose and Walsh loomed over them like a spectre.

West Indies' lead of 133 on the first innings seemed huge for a low scoring match but the drama of the day was yet to unfold.

    West Indies humbled
    England pace keeps up pressure

An incredible final two hour session before the end of the day's play had brought about a humiliating capitulation of West Indies' second innings. Their total of 54 was only threemore than their lowest ever, which was against Australia in Port of Spain in March last year. It was, however, their lowest in Tests against England.

West Indies had no answer to England's pace attack which kept the pressure on for the entire innings and it proved that a strong West Indian batting line-up can be totally shaken under pressure. They certainly couldn't cope with it today and England's bowlers will need to keep that in the fore-front of their mind for the rest of this series.