First Test

England v West Indies

Norman Preston

Toss: West Indies. Test debuts: England - F.C.Hayes; West Indies - R.G.A.Headley, B.D.Julien

West Indies won by 158 runs soon after lunch on the last day with three and a quarter hours to spare. This was the first Test win for West Indies since 1969 and their first over England since 1966. There was no question that it was fully deserved. Apart from Inshan Ali the eleven were drawn from English county cricket and all contributed something towards the success, not the least being Rohan Kanhai, the captain, who handled his resources skillfully.

Among the many splendid individual performances, that of Keith Boyce on his first appearance against England in taking eleven wickets for 147 as well as making 72 was an exceptionally fine effort. As it happened his bowling analysis was the best of all time for West Indies although another fast bowler, W. W. Hall, and four spinners, W. Ferguson, L. R. Gibbs, S. Ramadhin and A. L. Valentine, could show eleven wickets each in a single Test. Kallicharran excelled with 80 in each innings and Clive Lloyd made his 132 at a critical time in the early stages of the match.

In the main England were let down yet again by their batsmen, for only Boycott and Hayes could be satisfied with their achievements. Hayes enjoyed the distinction of hitting a century on his Test debut, a feat done by only four other Englishmen since the war, S. C. Griffith at Port of Spain in 1948, P. B. H. May at Headingley in 1951, C. A. Milton at Headingley in 1958 and J. H. Hampshire at Lord's in 1969.

Hayes gave a most impressive display for a young man with rather limited experience of first-class cricket. He was never afraid to play his shots. Indeed, going in late on the second day he made 14 runs--4, 6, 4, and those last 10 runs were struck from Inshan Ali off the last two balls of the day.

Of the England bowlers, Arnold alone lived up to his reputation; he put in a tremendous amount of hard work during that long West Indies first innings while taking five for 113 in the course of 39 overs after Kanhai had won the toss.

Large crowds were present on the first four days and the local West Indian population kept up their customary noisy good humour the whole time. Frequent invasions of the playing area were very annoying, notably when Clive Lloyd was 99 and again when he completed his hundred. The players were mobbed and the pitch trampled on, but fortunately with the weather dry the pitch stood up well.

Conditions favoured the seam bowlers on the first two mornings and all day Saturday when the sun never appeared and a keen breeze encouraged Boyce, Julien and Sobers. On the last two days the sun shone powerfully.

In the early stages of the match, the West Indies batsmen struggled for survival and before lunch made only 47 runs from 30 overs for the loss of Headley who padded up to a ball that came in from the off. When Fredericks and Kanhai followed him, three wickets had gone for 64, but that really was the only time England appeared to be in control.

West Indies had six left-handed batsmen and two of them, Lloyd and Kallicharran, came to the rescue in a brilliant stand of 208 in three hours, twenty minutes which was only broken late in the day when England took the new ball and Kallicharran flashed at a widish ball from Arnold. He hit thirteen 4's. Murray arrived as night-watchman and at the close West Indies were 275 for four with Lloyd 132, including two 6's and fifteen 4's.

Lloyd fell to the very first ball next morning and then Murray and Sobers waged a grim battle against Arnold, Snow and Greig, only 22 runs coming from 15 overs. Amiss removed Sobers by throwing down the wicket from mid-off. Julien became the fourth lbw victim, but Boyce played steadily, picking the ball to punish. He struck Greig for a superb straight six far into the pavilion seats and his enterprise with much help from Inshan Ali (the sixth left-hander) brought 106 runs from the last three wickets.

Whereas much of the England ground fielding was slipshod-- Greig dislocated the little finger of his left hand on the first day-- West Indies missed some slip catches in the closing stages of the second day when England made 117 for the loss of Amiss and Roope. Even Boycott, 55 then, offered a difficult chance to Gibbs off Boyce, but for the most part Boycott played splendidly for his 97 until just before lunch on Saturday when he glanced a ball from Julien to the wicketkeeper. There was some fine sustained pace bowling by Sobers, who gave so little away that his three wickets cost only 27 runs from 22 overs, but the main damage came from the hostile Boyce, who had never bowled better, with a long rhythmic run and not too many no-balls.

On this day the West Indies held their catches and after a sensible stand of 62 by Greig and Illingworth they captured the last five England wickets for 10 runs to earn a valuable lead of 158 runs. Going in again, they lost three men for 52, but once more England were troubled by two left-handers and before night-fall Headley and Kallicharran raised the score to 95 for three.

On Monday a full house of 26,000 saw the West Indies assert their superiority. This time Kallicharran stayed nearly three hours and hit eleven 4's before becoming Illingworth's first Test victim in four matches this summer. Sobers, ninth out, served his side admirably for two and a half hours, there being eight boundaries in his 51, and so England faced the gigantic task of making 414 to win.

While Boyce was again the spearhead of the attack and rounded off the tail, Gibbs put in some telling work with his accurate off spin and when he lured Boycott, as Howarth had done at Lord's, into coming forward and presenting a return catch, the only real resistance came from Hayes and Illingworth. Six wickets had fallen for 136, but with plenty of time in hand West Indies were surely marching to victory although they saw this pair put on 93 in two hours before Illingworth was bowled round his legs. So Hayes was left to take out his bat after a stay of nearly four hours. His clean hitting produced twelve 4's. Apart from a difficult chance to Kanhai at square leg when 56, the young Lancastrian gave a faultless display, notable for his neat footwork when dealing with the spinners and for the power of his strokes, particularly off the back foot.

Boyce and Hayes were named as the Man of the Match for their respective teams and received the £150 awards given by the Prudential in conjunction with Wisden for each of the three Tests.

© John Wisden & Co