Fourth Test

England v West Indies

Norman Preston

Toss: West Indies

West Indies won by an innings and 55 runs just after three o'clock on the fourth day with a day to spare. So they completed three wonderful years in which they twice won the rubber convincingly in England -- and twice carried off the Wisden trophy -- and for the first time beat Australia in a series.

They achieved their ambition like World Champions and, while they excelled as a team, standing high above the rest of them was their captain, Sobers, who in this match made the top score, 174, and took eight wickets for 80 runs, besides directing his men with masterly skill. In the four Tests Sobers had then scored 641 runs, average 128.20 and taken 17 wickets, as well as holding ten catches close to the bat.

As for England, this was a sorry performance and one felt at the end of the match that the selectors would have to take drastic action. This they did. They dropped Cowdrey, Milburn, Parks, Titmus, Underwood and Snow, although Snow played at The Oval owing to the withdrawal of Price, the Middlesex fast bowler.

For this Leeds match, England played Barber for the first time since his triumphs in Australia and recalled Titmus, leaving out Russell and Illingworth. West Indies relied on the eleven which played at Trent Bridge and at once Sobers gained a big advantage for his side by winning the toss for the fourth time and batting on an excellent pitch that lasted well and never offered bowlers undue help.

On a restricted first day when rain and bad light limited the cricket to three and a quarter hours England fared pretty well in dismissing Lashley, Kanhai and Hunte for 137. Another success came early the next morning when Butcher was out off the second ball of the day that he received for Higgs, the fourth wicket falling at 154.

Thereupon, Sobers and Nurse took charge and for four hours the England bowlers toiled in vain while Sobers hit his seventeenth Test century, his seventh against England and his third of the series. Moreover, he never offered a chance while making 174 out of 265, the highest West Indies stand for the fifth wicket against England.

Sobers struck twenty-four 4's and he had the rare experience of hitting a hundred between lunch and tea. During the course of his great display, in which he square cut, hooked, pulled and drove as he pleased, he became the first cricketer to attain a Test aggregate of 5,000 runs and also 100 wickets. In addition, in this, his eighteenth innings of the tour, he completed his 1,000 for the summer.

The fact that Nurse hit his first hundred against England passed almost unnoticed, yet he played a most valuable innings of 137 out of 367 which covered five and three-quarter hours and contained two 6's and fourteen 4's.

The England bowlers simply could not penetrate the defences of these two fine players. Cowdrey tried to unsettle them by ringing his bowling changes. Perhaps he should have used Barber earlier, for West Indies had made 324 before the wrist-spinner was introduced. Barber certainly puzzled Nurse and he bowled Sobers, but by then the West Indies captain was a tired man.

Sobers declared at 500, West Indies highest total of the tour, and Barber and Boycott scored four from the four overs delivered by Hall and Griffith before the end of the day.

An opening spell of eighty minutes by Hall at his fastest and best destroyed England on Saturday when he sent back Boycott, Cowdrey and Graveney. Sheer speed led each batsman into error and Milburn also suffered through not offering a stroke to a ball that struck him such a painful blow on the left elbow that he had to retire. When Milburn returned three and a half hours later he could only defend as he lacked power in that arm to hit with his usual freedom.

When the England total stood at 18 for two, just before mid-day, Griffith was cautioned against throwing by umpire Elliott after he had delivered a vicious bouncer to Graveney. Both umpires conferred and later Elliott said: "I told Syd Buller that in my opinion that delivery was illegal. We agreed that I should speak to Griffith about it. I then said to him: 'You can bowl, Charlie. Any more like that and I will have to call you. That delivery to Graveney was illegal.'" Following the incident, much of Griffith's pace disappeared and he took only one more wicket in the match when D'Oliveira skied a loose ball to cover.

Sobers eventually relieved Hall and, adopting his quick pace, soon removed Parks (with his first ball) and Titmus so that six wickets were down for 83 and England's fate was a foregone conclusion.

At last, D'Oliveira and Higgs made a stand, putting on 96 together. The South African played his third consecutive Test innings of over fifty. He hit four 6's one a magnificent straight drive from Hall, of all people, and eight 4's. Higgs also hit two 6's and played his longest and highest innings in first-class cricket, two and a quarter hours for 49 while the total rose by 155.

Sobers finally put in two spells of mixed spin and picked up the last three wickets in four balls so that England followed on 260 behind. They batted for fifty minutes before bad light caused over an hour to be lost at the end of Saturday and during that time, Lashley, with his first spell in Test cricket, trapped Boycott with his third delivery, Hendriks holding a smart catch wide and low of the off stump.

Only Barber and Milburn really troubled the West Indies bowlers on Monday when the remaining nine second-innings wickets went down for 165 runs. Barber, top scorer, defended soundly and drove and hit to leg confidently. Milburn, batting number seven -- D'Oliveira went in at three -- hit Holford for five 4's and hooked Gibbs over the square-leg pavilion for 6, he and Titmus adding 51 in twenty-five minutes. That was England's final fling against slow bowlers prepared to buy their wickets.

Gibbs bowled splendidly, sometimes with plenty of pace and skilful variation of flight rather than prodigious spin. He took six for 39, England's last five wickets falling in under an hour for 77.

© John Wisden & Co