Third Test Match


At Headingley, July 10, 11, 12, 14, 15. England won by 30 runs and retained the Wisden Trophy. It was the first time England had won two matches in a series against West Indies since 1957. They clinched the rubber with nearly five hours to spare. For most of the time bowlers dominated the proceedings, but on the fourth afternoon a brilliant innings of 91 by Butcher in two and a half hours--he hit sixteen 4's--when his side wanted 303 to win seemed to have put West Indies on top. When Butcher left to a disputed catch behind the stumps, they were 219 for three. It was a situation made for Sobers, but before giving himself time to settle down he had opened the door for England to march in. Indeed, in sixteen minutes West Indies lost Butcher, Sobers and Lloyd while only nine runs were scored and Shepherd, lame and strapped up, was soon snapped up by his county colleagues Knott and Underwood, so that at the close the tourists were 240 for seven. Underwood, omitted from the England team at Lord's, turned the scales with some excellent bowling that earned four valuable wickets at the most critical stage of the match.

Damp, overcast weather encouraged the bowlers during the first three days and cast doubts in the minds of all the batsmen. The verdant green Headingley turf presented a wonderful sight for greenkeepers, but it kept the shine on the ball and the pitch played slowly following a long period of rain. The start on Thursday was delayed for eighty minutes and apart from Edrich, again in fine form, runs never came freely. The Surrey left-hander made 79 in three hours, ten minutes, but the slow outfield restricted his 4's to six. There was some fine bowling by Sobers, Holder and Shepherd.

Illingworth handled his attack shrewdly on another dull day when Knight made the initial break through. Butcher alone looked at all comfortable until he was joined by Holder, but West Indies had only ten batsmen, Shepherd having severely strained the base of his back after so much strenuous bowling in all three Tests. So rather unexpectedly England gained a first innings lead of 62.

On Saturday the sun shone, but while 22,000 basked in it the batsmen never warmed up. Overnight, Sobers had already dismissed Boycott for a duck, and the West Indies captain, in the continued absence of Shepherd, put in two very fine spells of fast-medium bowling. Unchanged for two hours before lunch his figures were: 18-8-18-2. After tea Sobers again kept going for an hour, taking two more wickets in 10 overs for 14 runs, Nine of the England team reached double figures but it was heavy going, Edrich seventy minutes for 15, Sharpe just under two hours also for 15, Hampshire eighty-seven minutes for 22, Knott two hours, ten minutes for 31 and only one 4, Illingworth sixty-six minutes for 19, Knight ninety minutes for 27. Their dour efforts won few friends, but if they had taken chances and failed who would have excused them?

One must emphasise the valuable part played by England's tail. Brown and Snow held out for three-quarters of an hour and their last-wicket stand of 37 extended the innings into the fourth morning.

All moisture had disappeared from the pitch during the week-end so that when West Indies entered the fourth innings of the contest there was less bite in the pitch. All went well for them until nearly six o'clock when the dramatic transition took place. On the fifth morning the last three West Indies wickets held out for eighty minutes. Illingworth took the new ball first thing--not a simple decision--and half an hour passed before Brown removed Holder, Sharpe taking his eighth slip catch of the series. The Knott claimed his sixth catch of the match in sending back Gibbs. Findlay and Shillingford kept the tenth wicket alive for half an hour until Knight appealed successfully for leg-before against Findlay.

The total attendance of 50,000 was disappointing and suggested that at least for the time being the England team can no longer draw vast crowds whatever the strength of the opposition.

© John Wisden & Co