Fifth Test

England v West Indies

Norman Preston

England won by an innings and 34 runs fifteen minutes after lunch on Monday with nearly ten hours to spare.

It was a great triumph after so many humiliations during the summer and proved that England was not so poverty stricken in talent as previous performances suggested. Personal honours went to Brian Close, captain of his country for the first time and one of the six changes the selectors made after the rubber was lost in the fourth Test at Headingley.

Close set his men a splendid example at short leg and silly mid off and he used his bowlers shrewdly, not being afraid to introduce Barber with his wrist spin early in the proceedings. Moreover, Barber took five wickets.

Sharing the honours with Close were Graveney, Murray, Higgs and Snow, all of whom batted magnificently after England, facing a total of 268, lost their first seven wickets for 166. At that stage everything pointed to another run-away win for West Indies, but once again the glorious uncertainty of cricket was demonstrated by these heroes who caused 361 runs to be added for the last three wickets so that West Indies, batting a second time, faced a deficit of 259.

Never before in Test cricket had the last three wickets produced 361 runs, nor had the last three men scored one hundred and two fifties. Murray, moreover, became only the third number nine to make a Test hundred. In 1931 at Lord's, G.O. Allen scored 122 and with L.E.G. Ames (137) added 246 for the eight wicket against New Zealand and in 1946-47 at Melbourne R.R. Lindwall hit 100 out of 185 against England in under two hours.

The match was favoured with fine weather, the first three days cricket being played in a heat wave with the ground crowded to capacity. In spite of Sobers winning the toss for the fifth time, England took the initiative by dismissing Hunte, McMorris, Butcher and Nurse before lunch for 83. There followed a fine stand for West Indies with Kanhai hitting his first Test century in England. He batted for three and three-quarter hours and many of his fourteen 4's came from drives past cover and mid-off. Sobers, never in difficulty, drove, cut and pulled freely until he mis-hit a short ball, giving mid-off an easy catch. The partnership yielded 122 and then only the last pair offered real opposition, the innings being completed in five hours and ten minutes, but before the end of the day England lost Boycott for 20.

Sobers, bowling his unorthodox left-handed spin, caused England trouble first thing on Friday. His third ball, a googly, accounted for Barber, and though Edrich and Amiss batted stubbornly, by the lunch interval five wickets had fallen and worse followed before Graveney at last found a reliable partner in Murray, whose neat and efficient wicket-keeping earlier had done so much towards bringing the fielding up to Test standard.

Graveney shouldered the early burden of keeping his end intact amid numerous failures. He showed the determination to build a long innings and when Murray settled down both men drove gracefully and hit to leg with power. When stumps were drawn on Friday, this pair had seen England take the lead; the total reached 330 with Graveney 132 and Murray 81. The form of Murray, who incidentally hit a century in May against the West Indies for M.C.C., was a revelation. He looked every bit as good as Graveney.

On Saturday the same batsmen continued serenely until Gibbs smartly ran out Graveney, who had spent six hours hitting his 165, which included nineteen 4's. Murray went on to 112, more than double his previous best Test score, before he was leg before to Sobers at 399. He batted four and a half hours and hit thirteen 4's.

The West Indies bowlers must have looked forward to an early rest, but the England opening bowlers, Higgs and Snow, displayed their talent for batting in a highly diverting partnership of 128 in two hours, defying all the pace and spin the West Indies could offer and the new ball.

Before Higgs left to a return catch this plucky pair came within two runs of the world test record last wicket stand, 130 by R.E. Foster and W. Rhodes for England against Australia at Sydney in 1903-4. Neither Higgs nor Snow had previously completed fifty in first-class cricket.

Snow, who kept his place in the England team only at the last minute owing to an injury to Price, further distinguished himself in conjunction with Murray by disposing of McMorris and Hunte for 12 to be followed by D'Oliveira who upset Kanhai's wicket.

Butcher hit spiritedly with nine 4's in his 60 in under an hour and a half before slamming a full toss into the hands of Barber at mid-wicket so that on Saturday evening, with West Indies 135 for four and still 124 behind, England were in sight of victory provided they could contain Sobers on the two remaining days.

This they did. In fact, England captured the remaining six wickets on Monday in two and a quarter hours. After a maiden over by Higgs to Nurse, the third and fourth deliveries of the day from Snow ruined any prospect West Indies entertained of saving the match. Holford unwisely went for a third run when Illingworth at third man was returning the ball on top of the stumps to Murray.

Sobers, next in, went first ball, Close, waiting square in the leg trap, having directed Snow to try a bouncer. Sobers tried to hook this gift, only to give his rival captain a simple catch.

Nurse alone of the class batsmen remained. He pierced the closely set field with splendid drives and strong strokes to leg until Close recalled Barber at 164. Nurse pulled the first ball to the boundary (his fourteenth 4) and swept the next but it went high to Edrich deep behind the square leg umpire and the fielder held it at the second attempt. Nurse had stayed two hours, ten minutes for his 70 before being eight to leave at 168. Griffith and Hall defended dourly for fifty minutes and finally Gibbs gave a return catch to Barber, West Indies being all out for 225, their lowest total of the series.

During the four days the attendance reached 90,000 and the receipts £45,494.

© John Wisden & Co