Fourth Test Match

England v West Indies

Geoffrey Wheeler

At Leeds, July 22, 23, 24, 26, 27. West Indies won by 55 runs to establish a winning lead in the series and so retain the Wisden Trophy.

It was a magnificent match in which England, inspired by Greig's return to form, made a most creditable fight back after being outclassed in the early stages when West Indies scored almost too quickly for their own good. At lunch the second day odds of 200-1 against England were freely offered but rarely accepted, so hopeless did their cause appear to be.

Centuries by Greig and Knott for a remodelled England team helped to limit the first innings deficit to 63 and the three fast bowlers then put out the opposition for 196, leaving a victory target of 260 on a beautiful batting pitch, only for Roberts to deny England the start they needed if the teams were to go to The Oval all square.

England made no fewer than five changes, giving first caps to Balderstone and Willey, finding three fit fast bowlers in Snow, Willis and Ward to replace Hendrick, Selvey and Pocock and trying Woolmer and Steele as yet another opening partnership in place of Close and Edrich.

With Kallicharran out of action because of a shoulder injury, West Indies gave Rowe his first Test in England and included Holder at the expense of Padmore, leaving themselves without a specialist slow bowler, as was the case at Nottingham.

The 18,000 people who attended the first day were witness to an unforgettable batting display by the touring side who made 437 for nine, the runs coming from only 83 overs as the England bowlers took more punishment in a day at Headingley than at anytime since 1934 when Australia scored 458 for three.

Two 6s and fifty-eight 4's were hit in a near-continuous onslaught, made possible by a brilliant platform of 192 for the first wicket established by Greenidge and Fredericks. With ravishing strokes this pair went past 50 in 8.3 overs, 100 in 18.2 overs and the lunch score was 147-0 off 27 overs -- shades of Barnett and Hutton at Trent Bridge in 1938 when England reached 169 without loss.

Fredericks, 79 at the interval, needed only another twenty-two minutes for his seventh Test century. When he played on to Willis the left hander had cut, driven and pulled eighteen 4's in 109 made in two hours, thirty-six minutes.

Unbelievably there was heavier punishment to come for the long-suffering bowlers, for Greenidge and Richards proceeded to hit 95 off the next 12 overs with a profusion of extravagant strokes. Greenidge, the fifth player to make three successive centuries against England, passed 500 for the series with a magnificent blow into the football stand off Underwood. He struck two 6's and fourteen 4's in his 115.

With Richards and Rowe blazing away the 300 arrived in the 51st over and at tea, taken at 330 for two, there were visions of a truly mammoth total. Yet the last session belonged to England. The ball suddenly began to swing and seam, as it sometimes does at Headingley. The fall of Richards, when he had equalled R.B. Simpson's record of 1,381 runs in a calendar year, presaged a decline against the pace bowlers which left England with a fingerhold on the match.

This looked even more tenuous by lunch on Friday when they were 48 for three with Woolmer, Steele and Hayes already out. A revival was initiated by Willey, who took on the fast bowlers by playing an attacking game which brought him 36 in an hour with seven 4's before a breakback from Roberts shattered his stumps. By contrast, Balderstone managed 11 runs only in the afternoon session, but with Greig assured from the start and Holding off the field with a calf strain England gradually removed the danger of a follow-on.

When Balderstone was out after resisting for nearly three and a half hours Greig and Knott attacked with refreshing confidence. It was a different tale on Saturday however when both had to graft for their runs. It took four hours to advance the overnight 238 for five to 387. Greig completed his first Test 100 for 15 matches before the new ball was taken but thereafter was almost completely becalmed. yet, by the time he was out the sixth wicket was worth 152 and the arrears were down to 129.

Snow provided valuable support to Knott, who was in the nineties for over an hour and missed at 94 before his twelfth 4 brought him his fourth century for his country. In all he batted for five hours twelve minutes.

No explanation was forthcoming of why both umpires crossed to the point position during afternoon spells by Roberts. If they had any doubts about his action they must have been resolved for nothing further was heard of the matter, which perplexed the West Indies camp.

The shower which caused an early tea freshened the pitch and West Indies lost their first innings century-makers while scoring 56 before the close. Excitement mounted quickly on Monday. Steele ran out Rowe with only four runs added. At 72 Richards played on to Willis and England were back in the match.

Lloyd and King counter-attacked so effectively that they scored 36 in the next four overs and added 49 before Ward, then unluckiest of the England bowlers, had a change of fortune, Lloyd dragging the ball into his stumps. King carried on his withering assault on the pace bowlers and hit 58 off the same number of balls, including ten 4's, before he at last was caught at slip. He was to prove a vital innings. Willis took the last four wickets in 24 balls for three runs and finished with five for 42, his best Test Match figures.

One fine piece of fast bowling was quickly followed by another. Roberts, bowling a marvellous line and at a great pace, put out Steele, Balderstone and Hayes in his first four overs. Willey, very close to lbw first ball, then helped Woolmer to wear down Roberts and the score was 80 before Woolmer was out.

There was then a fine partnership between Willey and Greig, which brought 60 confident runs in fifty minutes. Willey was showing real style and class when he flicked Holding off his toes to see Roberts bring off a fine diving catch near the square leg umpire.

When stumps were drawn at 146 for five England needed another 114. Although full admission was charged over 6,000 spectators turned up on the last morning to see England's hopes dashed not by Roberts or the partially fit Holding but by Daniel. In his first 23 balls the young fast bowler disposed of the nightwatchman Underwood, Knott and Snow all caught off the outside edge from forward prods.

Greig, pinned down by three maiden overs from Roberts, watched helplessly. Greig then threw the bat, forcing Lloyd to man the boundaries, but although Ward stayed while 46 were added he and Willis finally fell to successive balls from Holding, leaving Greig unbeaten with a valiant 76 and quick to pay tribute to England's conquerors.

He said: "The way West Indies played on the first day in particular set the pattern for the whole game. They deserve every credit for making 450 runs so quickly instead of just trying to shut out the side batting second." Attendance 81,000. Receipts £90,849.

© John Wisden & Co