Third Cornhill Test


At Leeds, August 16, 17, 18, 20, 21. Drawn. For the second successive year the faithful Yorkshire crowd were betrayed by the weather. Only a full final day dragged the number of hours played beyond 1978's meagre ration - eleven hours, forty minutes, compared with ten and a half hours.

Fortunately for those who waited from the first half of Thursday to Monday morning, that truly remarkable cricketer, Botham, produced an innings which featured hitting more powerful than anything seen by an Englishman since Dexter, It earned him the Man of the Match award, and the comment from adjudicator J. C. Laker that it was one of the finest Test innings in the last twenty years.

Botham had waited through two blank days - the first time in England since 1964 that two consecutive days have been lost. But the crowd should have had something to watch on the Saturday. After early morning rain the sun shone, but the umpires abandoned hopes of play by 2.30 p.m. At tea, though, the ground was barely moist and the groundsman was convinced that the one troublesome area around the practice pitches, which was wetter, could have been speedily dried.

Willis and Amarnath returned to their sides after missing Lord's and Amarnath contributed a wicket as England slipped to 58 for four following an opening stand of 53. The chief damage was caused by Kapil Dev, who, in his third spell, took three wickets in seventeen balls. After an authoritative start, Boycott carved a short ball into the gulley. Gooch followed a big outswinger and Gower was immediately lbw, recording his first Test duck. Rain arrived at 2.50 p.m., and Randall and Botham resumed at 80 for four three days later.

Randall failed to add to his score, being bowled behind his legs. Miller initiated the assault on the bowling but soon contented himself with merely watching the spectacular show that Botham provided. Botham pulled both opening bowlers for vast 6s, swept Bedi into the car park, and three violently struck 4s in one over from Amarnath brought him to the verge of his hundred, which he reached with another colossal pulled 6 off Kapil Dev. He was 108 at lunch, having begun the day on 9, and so missed by 1 run becoming the first Englishman since L. E. G. Ames in 1935 to score a Test century before lunch. Further searing blows followed after the interval when he continued to drive, almost whatever the length of the ball. He was attempting the boundary that would have brought him to the Test double of 1,000runs and 100 wickets when Ghavri clung to a stinging catch at extra cover. Botham shared stands of 87 in eighty minutes with Miller and 88 in fifty-four minutes with Edmonds. Altogether he hit five 6s and sixteen 4s in two and threequarter hours.

Bedi rounded up the tail, and then Willis struck with two wickets in his first two overs, the amazing Botham catching Chauhan first ball and Amarnath edging to the wicket-keeper. Rain, returning at 3.40 p.m., saved India at 10 for two, but Viswanath went in the fourth over on Tuesday. Yashpal Sharma kept Gavaskar company until England's remote hopes of enforcing the follow-on vanished. When Edmonds floated one through Gavaskar's defence as the little man, after batting four hours, looked set for yet another Test hundred, the final point of general interest in the game disappeared. Vengsarkar, hooking Botham fluently, confirmed in a three-hour effort that he is well equipped to follow Gavaskar and Viswanath as a genuine Test batsman. In the final overs Gooch entertained the long-suffering crowd with a series of hilarious impressions of well-known bowling actions. - T.C.

© John Wisden & Co