First Test Match

England v West Indies

Norman Preston

A marvellous innings of 232 by the 24-year-old Vivian Richards overshadowed everything else in this match. England had to struggle to save the follow-on but thanks to Steele, who hit his first Test century, and steady work also by Woolmer, Edrich and Close the West Indies were held at bay.

They entered the match without a spinner of any class and their ill-balanced attack of four seam bowlers failed to dismiss England twice in the last three days. The match was patronised by good sized crowds who altogether paid £65,000.

If little went right for England during the first two days after Lloyd won the toss, it was the policy of attempting to contain the West Indies batsmen with a run-saving field that proved a failure. Not until a quarter to six when the total was 235 did Greig call on Underwood and so the West Indies made 274 on the opening day for the loss of only their opening pair, Fredericks and Greenidge.

Hendrick, who so often breaks down through strains, bowled throughout the two-hours first session and he performed magnificently, but he was not fit to take part in the next Test at Lord's.

Although there were moments when Richards played and missed, his display was more notable for brilliant strokes all round the wicket and particularly his stylish and powerful driving off the front foot. Kallicharran concentrated more on defence and at the close on Thursday Richards (143) had completed his ninth hundred since January; Kallicharran was 52.

Next day, the pair remained together until 2.30 p.m., their stand producing 303, of which Kallicharran's share was 97. Richards finished in a blaze of glory, for he hit 36 runs off the last thirteen balls he received before Greig on the long off boundary held a steepling catch. Richards batted seven hours twenty-five minutes and struck four 6's and thirty-one 4's. When Kallicharran was held at backward point he had batted six hours.

Following their departure the bowlers came into their own with the West Indies bent on pushing the score along. England, after spending eleven hours in the field, were thankful that bad light caused a delay of nearly an hour so there was time for only one over at the end of the day, which was safely negotiated by Edrich who played a maiden to Roberts.

On the third morning Brearley, in his first Test, and Close, recalled to the Test scene after an interval of nine years, both failed. Edrich stayed three hours, taking the score to 98 with Steele against some hostile bowling by Roberts, Holder and Daniel. Julien, too, commanded respect with his varied movement. Daniel, of great pace, was erratic at first and warned for running on the pitch, but he found a better length as the day advanced.

At the close when Steele was 105 and Woolmer 52, England had reached 221 for three and looked comparatively safe, but after the rest on Sunday West Indies regained the upper hand.

Now Daniel had the new ball instead of Julien. He sent down two wides and received a final warning from umpire Bird for running on the pitch. Then in his second over he induced Steele to hook a short ball to Roberts at long leg. He batted over six hours.

Thereupon Greig and Knott went cheaply, and with Woolmer, who had stayed four and a half hours, leg before playing back to Julien, it was questionable whether England could make the opposition bat again.

Worse followed when Old had to go to hospital after being struck on the wrist by Roberts, but Snow lasted nearly two hours and so West Indies had to be content with a lead of 162.

As if inspired by his batting, Snow bowled splendidly, as did Underwood when West Indies needed to score quickly. England objected when Greenidge was limping and King (not playing in the match) appeared as his runner; he was replaced by Gomes.

Next, the batsmen protested that Old distracted them with a white bandage on his damaged left forearm; so the Yorkshireman rolled down both sleeves to please them. Richards was again in fine form, and West Indies were 124 for three at the close of the fourth day.

Julien fell to the first ball of the final day but Kallicharran hit freely. In seven overs shared by Snow and Old, West Indies put on 52 in thirty-five minutes and then Lloyd, at his own dismissal, declared, setting England to get 339 to win in five and a quarter hours, a task that was never entertained.

For once, Steele failed, but Brearley stayed fifty minutes. After the fall of the second wicket at 55, the two left-handers, Edrich and Close, assumed command. West Indies relaxed and four batsmen took over from the regular bowlers on a dry pitch that had lost its place.

From England's point of view it had been a disappointing performance.

© John Wisden & Co