Third Test Match


At Bridgetown, Barbados, March 21, 22, 23, 25. West Indies won by an innings and 30 runs. A disastrous third day, on which fifteen wickets were lost for 211, condemned England to their eighth successive defeat by West Indies. Only once before had England suffered a losing run of equal length, against Australia in the first two series after the First World War. This Bridgetown Test, which enabled West Indies to retain the Wisden Trophy, did particular damage to Gower's team in that it was watched by an estimated 4,000 British spectators, among them the chairman of selectors. It did nothing to lessen Mr May's disappointment that after two days England were seemingly as well placed as any side since Pakistan six Kensington Oval Tests earlier (1976-77) to prevent West Indies winning, only to lose before lunch on the fourth. Before returning home, May called for greater resolve, questioning the team's attitude. Out of loyalty to Willis, his assistant, who was responsible for practice, Brown, the manager, refuted that, but May's sentiments were widely shared.

Dujon and Holding returned for West Indies, while for England, Robinson replaced Slack and Foster came in for Ellison, who was unwell. Gower, winning what looked an essential toss, followed the normal practice for the ground by putting his opponents in to bat, but the move misfired. If there was life in the pitch, Botham and Thomas were unable to extract it, and though Foster dismissed Greenidge in the eighth over (his own first), West Indies were 115 for one at lunch off 25. Richardson made a brilliant start, hitting nine 4s in reaching 50 off 44 deliveries, straight-driving, cutting and hooking with confidence and power. Twenty minutes before lunch, however, forcing Thomas off the back foot to extra cover, he was dropped by Gooch at 55. That miss, in conjunction with a life for Haynes at 51 (Edmonds at square leg from a hook off Botham) consigned England to a wait of 260 minutes for a second wicket. Haynes, doggedly adhesive, had helped Richardson add 194 when, in the first over of another Foster spell, he was caught by the only slip.

After their erratic start, England bowled and fielded well to limit West Indies to 269 for two, Richardson 150 not out, off 81 overs in the day. Much of the credit went to Emburey who, by pitching the ball on off and middle stumps to a three-six leg-side field, made the Antiguan labour 270 minutes for the last hundred of his runs. At 92 he survived a concerted appeal for a catch off his gloves by Downton, diving forward past the batsman's legs.

Emburey won his due reward after 25 minutes on the second morning when Richardson misjudged the ball to sweep and was lbw after batting for 347 minutes in his second hundred in successive Tests. Thus began England's best day of the series to that date. Though Richards, carressing Emburey for two driven 6s, played masterfully to reach 50 in 80 minutes, the innings fell apart directly the new ball was taken after 108 overs, following a long spell in harness by the spinners. Thirteen minutes before lunch, in Thomas's first over, Gomes chipped low to Gower at square leg and West Indies were 361 for four: 90 minutes into the afternoon they were all out for 418. Thomas, striking the vital blow when he had Richards caught by Downton off a late out-swinger first ball after lunch, took four for 14 in 6.1 overs, yorking Holding and having Garner caught at second slip to polish off the innings.

Robinson, in two minds whether to hook or take evasive action, was caught off his gloves in the last over before tea. But Gooch and Gower, playing with great skill, negotiated a lengthy passage of dull light to take England to 110 for one by close of play. On the third day, however, their splendid effort came to nothing. Bowling of high class destroyed the first innings; much poor batting accounted for six wickets in the second. It was clear England were up against it when the twelfth ball of the day, bowled to Gooch by Garner, missed off stump a few inches off the ground. There was swing and movement off the ground as well. The collapse started when Gower edged a ball that did little more than hold its line to give Dujon the second of five catches in the innings. But Gooch (who went 37 minutes before adding to his overnight 46) and Lamb received near unplayable balls, while Willey was the victim of a poor decision. Botham batted soundly for an hour, but then his concentration went, he skied a hook five minutes before lunch, and the tail was swept aside.

With the sky clearing, conditions were easier when England followed on 229 behind. But once Patterson bowled Gooch and Robinson in one of the fastest spells of the match, determination was in short supply. England's capitulation reached an ignominious level when Gower chased a wide half-volley and Botham swished 21 in four overs before getting out a minute from the close. After a rainy rest day, play was twice interrupted when the game resumed. But despite a fighting stand of 50 between Downton and Emburey, West Indies completed their victory ten minutes before lunch. Richardson won the match award.

© John Wisden & Co