September 3, 2000

Atherton and Stewart take risk free option

Cornhill Insurance

England put on an exhibition of patience and prudence at The Foster's Oval this morning to extend their lead over the West Indies to 250 in the final Cornhill Test Match.

Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart took the risk-free option against the West Indian pace attack putting on just nine runs in the first hour of play, and 38 in the second on a painstakingly slow morning, the penultimate one of the international summer.

At lunch England were 103 for three and on course to set West Indies a substantial target on the final day's play.

A sell-out crowd watched 43 balls bowled by Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh before Atherton, on 36 not out overnight, flicked Ambrose through backward square leg for the first runs of the morning.

And an unusually circumspect Stewart faced 18 balls before he was able to make an impact on the scoreboard and his home crowd applauded his opening runs warmly as he scampered two.

The pitch continued to cause uncertainty among the batsmen and England, who were 212 runs ahead of the tourists overnight, appeared unhurried in the run in to lunch, the priority to preserve wickets rather than accelerate the run rate.

After 17 overs of the morning session, Atherton, who scored 83 runs in the first innings, had reached his half century - the 41st of his Test career though in taking more than four hours and using 184 balls, possibly one of his slowest - and by lunch he was unbeaten on 59, his sixth boundary bringing up England's 100, and Stewart was 20 not out.