West Indians made to work hard for win
West Indians 380 and 157 (Gayle 84, Willoughby 5-48, Hoggard 4-58) beat MCC 260 and 248 (Cook 89, Stephenson 58) by 29 runs
The West Indians warmed up for next week's first Test at Lord's with a 29-run win against an MCC side at Arundel. However, it wasn't all plain sailing. After a major lower-order collapse in the morning, in which the West Indians were all out for 157, MCC then overcame a sticky start to make Brian Lara sweat on the result before they were all out for 248 in the evening of the third and final day.
Resuming on 115 for 5, the West Indians lost their last five wickets for only 42 runs in less than 10 overs. However, their low second-innings total proved to be enough, despite half-centuries from Alastair Cook and John Stephenson, and a cameo 25 from Matthew Hoggard at No.10.
Charl Willoughby, who has played two Tests and three one-dayers for South Africa, took three of the wickets to fall at the start, while Hoggard and Simon Jones completed their way back to fitness with one a piece. Hoggard finished with figures of 4 for 58 - and match figures of 8 for 90 - as only three West Indians made it into double figures.
Chris Gayle and Brian Lara were the overnight batsman, and they started brightly until Lara inside-edged an inswinger from Hoggard behind to Riki Wessels, the wicketkeeper, for 43. That opened the floodgates with the last four wickets tumbling for only three runs.
Omari Banks was cleaned bowled by Willoughby trying to mow one over mid-wicket, and Jones then got rid of Gayle for 84 with his first ball of the morning. Gayle pulled Jones and Michael Powell, Jones's Glamorgan team-mate, took the catch at deep square leg. Willoughby then polished off the innings with the wickets of Fidel Edwards, caught by Stephenson at mid-on, and Jermaine Lawson, trapped lbw for 2.
That set MCC 278 to win, and Pedro Collins immediately pegged them back with three quick wickets. He had Sven Koenig caught behind, removed Powell leg before for a duck, and took the big scalp of Graham Thorpe, caught by Lara at first slip for 4. However, it was Cook and Stephenson, the youngest and the oldest members of the side, and former Essex team-mates, who stopped the rot with a stand of 74. Cook, aged 19 and playing in his first full first-class season, scored an impressive 89 with 13 fours before he was caught behind by Carlton Baugh off Banks's offspin.
Stephenson, who retired earlier this summer to take up his role as head of MCC, defied all of his 39 years by not only holding the West Indies attack at bay, but giving his side an outside chance of a win. He and Wessels put on a stubborn 62 to take MCC within 65 runs of victory, but once Stephenson was caught by Lara off Banks for 58, Wessels was then shortly run out for 34, and the end was nigh.
Lawson took his second of the innings when Min Patel edged him to Baugh, and Jones was caught by Devon Smith off Banks, who grabbed his third wicket. Hoggard made sure MCC didn't go down with a whimper, though, as he smacked four boundaries before he was bowled by Lawson.