Fourth Test Match


England saved Antigua's well-attended first Test match comfortably on the last day after the fourth day's play had been lost through rain.

Botham won the toss for the third time in three Test matches but this time chose to bat on the best batting pitch encountered so far on the tour. England had brought in Athey for Gatting, returned Downton to the side in favour of Bairstow, and replaced the injured Jackman with Stevenson. The innings began with suitable confidence, but after Gooch had run himself out at 60, going for a third run, Croft took four successive wickets. When Gower was out to Holding, the innings had subsided to 138 for six but by the end of the day Willey, with support from Downton, Emburey and Dilley, had taken this to 260 for nine, for once carrying the battle to the fast bowlers, who had not often been kept in the field long enough to become tired and vulnerable. Only 69 when Dilley came in at number eleven, Willey next morning reached his second Test hundred before the innings closed.

Though West Indies lost Haynes in the second over, Richards, in his native island, started brilliantly and after only seven overs the score was 45 - eleven 4s and a single. But thereafter Richards, Greenidge and Mattis took fewer and fewer risks. Only 70 were scored in two hours after tea, 28 by Richards who, in one hour after reaching 100, made only 3 runs.

Having restricted West Indies to 236 for two in 84 overs, England started the third day by taking five wickets for 65 runs before lunch. The scores had been level when West Indies, having batted for four overs more than England, lost their sixth wicket, but Lloyd and Garner added 83 for the eighth wicket with growing ease, and a robust last-wicket stand between Holding and Croft put on 67 against flagging bowlers before Lloyd declared 197 ahead. This left England with half an hour's batting on the third evening, but bad light reduced this to four overs which Boycott and Gooch played safely.

A rest day and a fourth day washed out by heavy rainstorms meant that England, still 190 behind, had only to bat through the last day for a draw. There was never a moment when it looked as if they would fail to do this, for Boycott and Gooch played confidently in an opening stand of three hours, and after Gooch's dismissal Boycott, partnered for more than two hours by Gower, carried on faultlessly, reaching his twentieth Test century just before the end of the five-and-a-half-hour day.

© John Wisden & Co