September 1, 2000

Rain and bad light disrupt second day's play

Cornhill Insurance

Squally showers disrupted the second day's play with England's middle and strong lower order batting failing to re-build the innings which had seen a succession of wickets fall on the previous day after the diligent work of the two openers.

While there is no doubt that the performance of the England team has shown remarkable improvement this summer, there does remain concern over the batting as a whole.

With the second innings of this fifth Test yet to come, we have had just five individual scores of over fifty, two of which have been from one batsman - Marcus Trescothick - and only one century in this series.

England's remaining five wickets fell today for just sixty runs with the two specialist batsmen among them, Graham Thorpe adding only nine to his overnight score and Graeme Hick adding fifteen.

Much of the credit for England's successes so far in the series must go to the bowlers who have restricted the West Indies' scoring. Even if England were to win this series, some thought will have to be given to their batting, not least of the captain's, with the forthcoming tour of Pakistan where England's batsmen will come up against high-class pace and spin bowling.

After the excellent start to their first innings, England, alarmingly, lost nine wickets for 122 runs. While the tourists' two great veterans Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were, of course, among the wickets, as has become customary, Walsh taking three and Ambrose adding Hick's wicket to the one he took yesterday, they will not be dissatisfied with the bowling of Nixon McLean.

West Indies' search goes on for promising fast bowlers with the imminent retirement from Test cricket of Ambrose and possibly of Walsh soon after. There has not been any startling performances from the other two pace bowlers in the squad, Reon King and Franklyn Rose. King did, however, have most impressive figures in the first of the four previous Tests.

McLean finished with three important wickets at 26 apiece and although, not outstanding, his figures and the manner in which he bowled would have been encouraging to West Indies in view of the dearth they are facing.

When bad light stopped play for the day in which forty overs were lost to the weather, the tourists, on 13 without loss were 268 behind and have much batting to do.