Fourth Test

WEST INDIES v ENGLAND 1989-90

Toss: England.

This, in its way, was every bit as dramatic and emotional as the two previous Test matches. That it ended in a West Indian win, with perhaps half an hour of daylight to spare, was the right result if the match is viewed in isolation. In the context of what occurred in Trinidad, it was particularly rough on England. They were outclassed here, as West Indies played to their potential at last, but never outfought. The stirring defiance of Russell and Smith on the final day will live in the memory as long as the earlier centuries from Best, Lamb and Haynes.

Amid the great and good, however, there was bad and downright ugly. England indulged in time-wasting every bit as blatant, if not quite so theatrical, as West Indies' efforts in Port-of-Spain. Then, on the fourth evening, with the crowd at fever pitch as England's second innings staggered, came an incident with loud repercussions. Bailey was given out in controversial circumstances by umpire Barker after a charging finger-flapping appeal by Richards which was at best undignified and unsightly. At worst, it was calculated gamesmanship.

England won the toss and Lamb chose to bowl. He was working on the theory that the pitch supported seam on the first day, but he was flying in the face of recent evidence. The previous two England captains in Tests on this ground made the same decision and were beaten by 298 runs and by an innings and 30, respectively. When West Indies reached 311 for five by the end of the opening day, Lamb knew he was not about to reverse the trend. It was a day belonging to Best, a local hero, delighting in the first century of a hitherto frustrating Test career. For England, shorn of Fraser's reliability, it was a day on which Malcolm's inconsistencies were reiterated. Richards deliberately assaulted his bowling, taking 18 in one spectacular over. On a pitch playing well, and without the valuable variety of spin, Lamb was at a loss. This, surely, had been an opportunity to make use of Hemmings, but England persisted with their policy of four fast bowlers.

West Indies, who had won their previous eight Tests on this ground, completed a total of 446 by mid-afternoon on the second day. England then made the worst possible start, Larkins out first ball to Bishop. Stewart, pressed unsatisfactorily into service as an opener lived dangerously for his 45, and not until Smith and Lamb came together was any authority imposed on the England innings. These two carried a heavy burden in Gooch's absence, and they stayed together for five hours, putting on 193 and raising the genuine hope that England could match West Indies' score. Instead, once Lamb had gone for his second century of the series, an innings of brilliance, and Smith for a six-hour, self-denying 62, the collapse was swift. The last six wickets fell for 61, and West Indies quickly set about building on a lead of 88. This time it was Haynes who fired, for the first time in the series. His century occupied much of the fourth day and defied all Lamb's attempts to waste time, tactics which reduced the over-rate to a funereal eleven per hour. Haynes's hundred was his thirteenth in Tests and his fourth against England.

Richards delayed his declaration well beyond most neutral estimates, but the before the customary curtailment because of the light, 50 minutes into the extra hour, England, needing an improbable 356 to win, had plunged to 15 for three. Larkins lasted one ball more than in the first innings, Bailey appeared to be caught behind off his hip, and the night-watchman, Small, was lbw. A rest day followed, necessary to cool some high emotions and to give England time to regroup. What was plain, however, was that either Lamb or Smith, or preferably both, had to be at his best to save the game. In the event it was Smith, unbeaten with 40 and extending his batting time in the game to eleven hours, who held up West Indies, in company with the marvellously game Russell. Russell batted five hours for 55 and was not dismissed until the new ball was claimed, more than an hour after tea. England had been 166 for five at the time, but Ambrose suddenly inspired, took the last five wickets in five overs. All but one were out l. b. w., giving Ambrose final figures of eight for 45, the best of his short but destructive career, and levelling the series.

Man of the Match: C. E. L. Ambrose.

Close of Play: First day, West Indies 311-5 ( C. A. Best 102*, P. J. L. Dujon 2*); Second day, England 155-3 ( A. J. Lamb 63*, R. A. Smith 17*); Third day, West Indies 19-1 ( D. L. Haynes 10*, R. B. Richardson 6*); Fourth day, England 15-3 ( A. J. Stewart 4*, R. C. Russell 3*).

© John Wisden & Co