September 2, 2000

West Indies struggle against excellent bowling led by White

Cornhill Insurance

If there has been a theme to this summer's Test series it has been the success of England's vitalized band of pace bowlers. Regardless of the outcome of this final Test or how strongly West Indies batsmen might respond in the second innings, England's pace attack has provided all that was required of it.

While Marcus Trescothick, has made such an impact with his impressive batting since his entry into the international scene, Craig White has forged ahead so emphatically after being drafted into the team for the second Test.

Today, in an inspired burst of fast bowling, he made three quick incisions into the West Indies top-order batting, claiming three wickets for four runs in just eight balls. And that included the most important wicket of Brian Lara who was bowled first ball. It was superbly bowled, with White switching to round the wicket for the left hander, the ball came diaginally across at almost a yorker length and as Lara shuffled across he lost his leg stump.

It was Lara's fifth 'duck' in Tests and the first from the first ball that he received. With White having Adrain Griffth caught off the previous delivery and Sherwin Campbell falling to Dominic Cork in the over before, West Indies were 32 for three. White's marvellous sequence of dismissals continued, after Cork removed Wavell Hinds in the next over, White struck again with the wicket of Ramnaresh Sarwan.

The tourists' batting was in total disarray on 39 for five and both Cork and White in particular seemed unplayable. There was no recovery to come as West Indies were further reduced to 75 for eight. But the contribution of the tail-enders, helped by Ridley Jacobs, pushed the final total to 125.

White's figures of five for 32 from 11.5 overs were the best in his twelve Test matches. Having taken five for 57 in the previous Test, White and Andy Caddick are the only two England bowlers who have taken five wickets in an innings twice in this series.

It is not just a general improvement in White's bowling but also in the speed that he generates. Of the four England pace bowlers he has been the quickest in this match with his fastest ball recorded at 89.3 mph.

This was another day disrupted by the weather and when bad light stopped play at 6.45pm, as was the case on the previous day, England, in the second innings were 56 for 2 with an overall lead of 212. While it has been a most satisfying day for England bowlers, the captain must be getting increasingly concerned with each innings about his own batting form.

Having been dismissed without scoring, he bagged his first 'pair' in his first-class career of 270 matches. With 61 runs in seven innings in this series he now averages 10.2 and has a top score of 22. As this was his last Test innings of the series he does not have the opportunity of improving his lot before embarking on the winter tours of the sub-continent.

England, however, are more happily placed with the probability of setting West Indies a difficult victory target in this final Test.