September 2, 2000

Again!! West Indies in Shambles

Cornhill Insurance

I think it was Nat "King" Cole, the Blues & Soul singer, who had a major hit song called "Again" some time in the past. That song must have been specially dedicated to the West Indies cricket team, for, again, they were destroyed by some good fast bowling. While good, the bowling was not so good that the West Indies cricket team should only have made 125 on such a perfect batting pitch. The West Indies batting on Day 3 was shameful, at best. They can hide behind no excuses this time. 54; 61; now 125. What next, one wonders!

The West Indies started at 11:00am BST at 13-0. By 11:35am BST, they had progressed to 32-0. Then hell, or more aptly, Andy Caddick, Darren Gough, Dominic Cork and especially Craig White broke loose. Perhaps that is the concept of "hell" that the West Indies cricketers now have. In exactly three hours, at 2:35pm BST, the West Indies had been dismissed; the 1st innings in complete disarray, all out for another "lottery number".

Again, Sherwin Campbell played away from his body to Dominic Cork. Again he got an inside edge, since the batsman's feet had not moved. Again that inside edge cannoned on to the off stump. One wonders if Campbell will learn at all, or if the Coaches are getting through to him, or if the Coaches are getting through to anyone at all.

From 32-0, the West Indies were destroyed by some of the most determined and careful fast bowling seen for some time, except the aggression was not the "bouncer and body-line" type, but the type which suggested that a plan had been devised by England for the plethora of left handers that the West Indies presented as players masquerading as batsmen. The English fast bowler, in contrast to the 'body-line" aggression at Lord's during Test No. 2, bowled at a much fuller length, but the batsmen wilted just the same; again!

Again, playing as mindlessly as he had done at Leeds, Adrian Griffith drove away from his body to a Craig White delivery, immediately after Campbell's dismissal, only to see the resultant flying edge taken high but well by Graeme Hick at 2nd slip. Remembering that he lost his off stump in a similar manner at Leeds, one wonders if this team has any hope. They just keep doing the same things over and over again.

Then, the real nail in the West Indies coffin was effected. Brian Lara, whom the press everywhere had put great pressure on by suggesting that he will be the man to change things for the West Indies in this Test, played across the first delivery he received, from Craig White, bowling around the wicket, instead of playing fully out, and heard rather than saw his leg stump disturbed behind his back. The shout of celebration from White, his team-mates and the English supporters could have been heard all the way to Maraval, where Lara lives in Trinidad & Tobago.

I am convinced that the English cricket team had done their homework on the left handers in the West Indies cricket team. Immediately that Craig White came on to bowl, he started from around the wicket to Adrian Griffith, the batsman just digging out a yorker, because he was at the crease for a spell; White's first delivery. Lara was not so lucky, He saw nothing as the ball slanted into and away from him to leg, to hit the leg stump.

That did not happen by accident, as White never bowled over the wicket for the entire day while bowling to a left hander. That was definitely a plan!

Wavell Hinds soon took a delivery on his pad which was headed to middle stump, and suddenly, the West Indies were 34-4. England's bowlers were being tremendously accurate, and Craig White and Dominic Cork, the 2nd tier of England's attack, were the destroyers this time. What an attack this is turning out to be.

For once Ramnaresh Sarwan let ambition become greater that his team's position, for, as he drove with his head in the air, he lost his balance, the resulting edge careening to Marcus Trescothick at gully for the fieldsman to take a great sharp catch. At 39-5, the West Indies looked as if they were not even going to be able to save the follow-on; 82 required.

It was suggested by many that Jimmy Adams looked very tired when he approached the crease to bat. Certainly his stroke, to give catching practice to Hick at slip from Cork's bowling, suggested that Adams was indeed tired, probably from the tour, probably from his team's efforts. 56-6 was not a great position to be in when England had already made 281.

Had it not been for a real face saving partnership of 44 between a much improved and gutsy Nixon McLean; both his batting and bowling looked tremendously useful; and the resurging Ridley Jacobs, the West Indies would have been embarrassed even further. They had come to the crease after Mahendra Nagamootoo, picked to bowl leg breaks, but recognized as a fair batter, showed his worth for 18, helping Jacobs to carry the score from 51-6 to 74-7. What a completes shambles this was!!

Once Mc Lean was gone, bowled from the inside edge from White, again from around the wicket, it was all over, not including the shouting. That, of course, continued apace, and rightly so. The West Indies were again decimated by fast purposeful fast bowling, operating with a plan. That final score of 125 attested to that.

A final thought on England's 3rd Day efforts. There was no real help from the pitch for the bowlers. It was true and firm and played very well. The bowlers simply put the ball down in the right places and allowed the West Indies to, again, make themselves look like fools batting. How a team could manage to make itself look like a kindergarten school's cricket team as well as the West Indies cricket team does is anyone's guess. England's bowlers were magnificent, and Craig White, who got his best Test figures to date, 11-1-32-5, deserves to be the head of the pack. He, and the rest of the English contingent, planned their efforts well and executed well.

Even with the eventual wickets of Marcus Trescothick and the luckless Nasser Hussein, the West Indies are slowly being, if indeed it has not yet happened, played out of the game. With a lead of already 212 with eight wickets in hand, and only six sessions left in the game, it is still possible for the West Indies to pull of a magnificent, magical win, but not very likely.

England hold all of the aces now. All they have to do is bat at least two of those sessions and score perhaps another 100 runs. Making over 300 runs is possible, but who would bet on the West Indies doing a Barbados again, when Lara and his boys managed a miracle? Again?