Third Test

Engand v West Indies

Norman Preston

Toss: West Indies. Test debut: England - Derek Underwood.

Again West Indies proved the superior side and extricated themselves from an inferior position.

They fell 90 behind on the first innings and then lost two wickets for 65, yet were able to declare with only five men out and set England the reasonable task of scoring 393 in six and a half hours, a rate of exactly 60 an hour.

England caused much surprise just before the match began by omitting Barrington on the grounds that he was suffering from physical and nervous strain through playing too much cricket in the past six years. They also left out Knight (twelfth man) and introduced Underwood to Test cricket, there being altogether four changes compared with the Lord's Test. Lashley and Hendriks made their first Test appearances in England for the West Indies.

For the third time in the series Sobers won the toss and again the West Indies captain played a notable part. Besides hitting 94 in just over two hours when it was necessary to press for runs, Sobers took five wickets, including that of Boycott with the second ball in England's first innings, and he held five catches, besides handling his bowlers and setting his field with marked skill. Nurse and Butcher both played profitable innings.

England were indebted to Graveney for a fine century, for third in successive Test appearances at Trent Bridge and to Cowdrey who helped the Worcestershire player to a valuable stand of 169 after the first three wickets had gone for 13.

D'Oliveira hit splendidly in both innings and like Higgs, bowled well, but England were guilty once again of poor fielding. They dropped Butcher five times and Boycott, at cover, alone stood out in a favourable light.

The Nottinghamshire groundsman must be congratulated on preparing a fast true pitch which encouraged the pace bowlers, especially in the early stages of the match. They enjoyed a notable first day when thirteen wickets went down for 268 runs.

Snow and Higgs were lively and aggressive for England, but Lashley, with a short back lift and receiving at least one life, proved stubborn while staying over three hours for 49. Time and again the batsmen were saved by their pads; even Nurse had his anxious moments. Still, his was a fine display for he made 93, including eleven 4s, in two and three-quarter hours, but fell as soon as Snow took the second new ball.

When England batted for the last fifty minutes it was the same tale of the previous year on this ground against South Africa who twice captured cheap wickets by night fall. This time, Boycott, Milburn and Russell all failed so that Graveney and Cowdrey had to play through the final half hour. They took the score to 33 for three.

Next day, in heavy cloudy weather, the England fourth pair had to use all their skill and resource to combat the menacing attack of Hall, Sobers, Griffith, Gibbs and Holford. Only 36 runs came in the first hour, but by lunch, when the total was 128, each had reached his fifty and Graveney had pulled Gibbs for 6.

Subsequently, a barrage of bumpers increased the batsmen's problems, Cowdrey suffering painful blows under the heart from Hall. There were two stoppages for bad light and it was after tea, at 4.40, that Graveney went to a brilliant left-handed catch in the gully, having scored 109, out of 172 in three hours fifty minutes. In addition to his 6, he hit eleven 4s.

Cowdrey saw England go ahead and then at 238, having batted over five hours for 96 and hit only six 4s he was taken at the wicket. As Illingworth failed England were 254 for seven at the close.

The ground was full on Saturday when in warm sunshine England consolidated their position, thanks to Underwood keeping up his end for eighty-five minutes with D'Oliveira while 65 runs were added, a record for England's last wicket against West Indies, D'Oliveira hit ten 4s in his excellent 76. Next, he disposed of Hunte and Lashley, the latter taking one and three-quarter hours for 23.

Butcher joined Kanhai at 3.45 p. m. and with their side in a precarious position they added only 73 runs in the remaining two and a half hours before the close. Underwood, left arm medium over the wicket, who bowled unchanged from 3.30 p. m. till 6 o'clock had the figures 22-13-17-0 but he failed to take his first wicket in Test cricket, D'Oliveira missing a slip catch from Kanhai, who was then 36.

On Monday, the West Indies wasted no time in piling on 334 runs in five and a quarter hours. The hero was Butcher. Severely criticised for his stonewalling on Saturday, he went on to punish England for 209 not out in seven and three-quarter hours and he hit twenty-two 4s.

His double century had only been bettered for West Indies in England by F.M. Worrell -- 261 at Trent Bridge, 1950. Moreover, Butcher had the rare distinction of taking part in three successive three-figure stands, with Kanhai, Nurse and Sobers. His partnership with Sobers of 173 in two hours was a whirlwind affair.

England had a poor day in the field. Higgs alone of the five bowlers maintained his best form. Snow found the pitch lifeless and his attempts to produce bouncers presented no difficulties.

England began their second innings with half an hour left on Monday and this time Boycott and Milburn survived. Milburn hooked Hall for 6, but was fortunate in the final over to be missed off the same bowler by Lashley at third slip.

So on the last morning England resumed at 30 without loss, but the fifth ball of the first over accounted for Milburn who mishooked Hall to mid-on.

Boycott faced the situation with rare skill, his defence being superb, but Russell never appeared confident and West Indies, in the two and a half hours session before lunch, gained absolute control, taking five wickets for the addition of 112 runs. Boycott pulled Sobers for 6 and also hit six 4s in his 71, made in two and a half hours.

Griffith delivered some vicious bouncers, one only just missing Cowdrey's head. Again D'Oliveira hit freely and he was particularly aggressive on being joined by Higgs. Here were ten 4s in his 54. Snow withstood the bowling for half an hour and, when Underwood again resisted, Griffith brought forth wholesale condemnation by producing another of his bouncers which struck the Kent bowler in the mouth.

In the end, West Indies won with eighty-five minutes to spare. The weather remained fine and a crowd of 105,000 produced receipts of £36,396, a record for a Trent Bridge Test.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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