Third Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v WEST INDIES 1988

Graham Otway

Toss: England. Test debuts: J.H.Childs.

With England unable to cope for any length of time with the West Indian fast bowlers, and in particular with Marshall, a Test match which had been scheduled for a minimum of 455 overs ended after 243.1 had been bowled. The game lasted until the fifth day only because of constant interruptions for bad light and rain. In terms of the fifteen-overs-per-hour equation of the Playing Conditions for the series, the match theoretically finished shortly before tea on the third day.

England made four changes. Broad was dropped, ostensibly for his consistent failure to make runs in home Tests, but there was always a suspicion that he was being disciplined for the incident at Lord's when he was spotted by a television camera mouthing his disappointment at an lbw decision. Moxon was promoted to open, Gatting came back into the side, all-rounder Capel replaced Pringle, and DeFreitas returned in the absence through injury of Jarvis and Small. When Cook, the Northamptonshire slow left-armer, failed a fitness test, Childs, a slow left-arm spinner with Essex, became at 36 years and 320 days England's oldest débutant for more than 40 years. A hamstring injury ended Haynes's run of 72 consecutive Tests for West Indies, who included a spinner, Harper, for the first time in the series and brought in Benjamin for Patterson.

Under overcast skies, England on the opening morning slumped to 55 for four by lunch and thereafter were always staring at a defeat. Marshall, although rumoured to be carrying a rib injury, lanced his way through Moxon's defences and, recalling memories of Lord's in 1984, trapped Gatting leg-before without the batsman offering a shot. Gower edged Walsh into the safe hands of Harper at slip, and when Gooch edged Benjamin to the wicket-keeper, West Indies were firmly in command. Lamb and Downton provided brief resistance as the afternoon saw a series of stoppages for rain, but England's innings of 135 lasted only 60.2 overs. Walsh, who at the start of the summer was struggling to hold his place, was the pick of the bowlers with four for 46.

Emburey, who had claimed the wicket of stand-in opener Richardson on several occasions, took the new ball. And in the three overs before the close of play, England missed two catches that might just have made the West Indians struggle. Instead, for the next two and a half days, as the rain continued to sweep in from the west, England were kept in the field while their opponents cruised to a first-innings lead with only three wickets down and then stamped their complete authority on the match. Although the pitch provided some movement off the seam and the bounce was erratic, England's pace attack lacked the skill and extra yard of pace to take advantage. Childs accounted for Hooper with his fourteenth ball in international cricket, and for a time managed to subdue Richards, but his control and steadiness were inadequate compensation for the lack of penetration that was England's main weakness. The West Indian innings owed much to a partnership of 94 for the sixth wicket between Harper and Dujon. The former had shown excellent form in recent games, while Dujon was merely confirming a return to form after two lean years.

No play was possible before lunch on the fourth day, and with the forecasts predicting little improvement in the weather, Richards was faced with a dilemma over the timing of his declaration. Eventually, when play was due to resume at 4.15 p.m. after a second stoppage, he decided that a lead of 249 would be sufficient for his fast bowlers in the possible 136 overs that remained. Although his decision could not be regarded as erring towards caution, the events that followed showed that he could have let West Indies' innings follow its natural course.

By the close of play, England were 60 for three, with Marshall accounting for Gooch and Gatting and Benjamin having Moxon caught at slip. One refreshing factor of the day's play had been the sight of the umpires carrying out inspections wearing their white coats. They were able to signal to the dressing-rooms when conditions were fit for play to restart, instead of following the time-honoured, and time-wasting, tradition of walking back to the pavilion to inform the teams of their intentions.

On the final morning, England's only chance of survival lay with the weather, but Manchester dawned bright and steamy. In a shade over an hour, England lost their last seven wickets while only 33 runs were added - and then it rained. Marshall, maintaining a strike-rate of a wicket every 26 balls in the series, was the chief destroyer, sending back five Englishmen to finish with a career-best seven for 22, while Lamb and Emburey fell to the fast-improving Ambrose. The 6ft 7in, 24-year-old Leeward Islander, although unknown to most English followers, was not without local knowledge, having taken more than 100 wickets the previous year in the Central Lancashire League. He kept the ball well up to the bat and relied on pace and movement. The same could be said of Marshall. England could not blame this defeat on the hostility of fast short-pitched bowling. Their undoing was the intelligent use of the conditions by a far superior force.

Man of the Match: M. D. Marshall. Attendance: 45,854; receipts: £414,474.

Close of play: First day, West Indies 4-0 (C. G. Greenidge 4*, R. B. Richardson 0*); Second day, West Indies 242-5 (P. J. L. Dujon 35*, R. A. Harper 23*); Third day, West Indies 357-6 (R. A. Harper 61*, M. D. Marshall 37*); Fourth day, England 60-3 (D. I. Gower 24*, A. J. Lamb 6*).

© John Wisden & Co