Second Test Match

ENGLAND v. WEST INDIES

Norman Preston

At Birmingham, August 9, 10, 11, 13, 14. Drawn. Kanhai and his West Indies team made sure of not losing the three-match rubber by holding England to a draw, but the methods that were adopted for this purpose caused much unpleasantness until at the week-end friendly relations were restored and the last two days went off quietly as the game petered out.

While the cricket itself may soon be forgotten, the match will be remembered for the unprecedented action of the umpire Arthur Fagg who at the end of the second day threatened to withdraw from the match, and, indeed, Alan Oakman, the Warwickshire coach and a former first-class umpire and Test player, stood for the first over on Saturday morning when Fagg resumed his duties following talks with Mr. Esmond Kentish, the West Indies manager, and Mr. A. V. Bedser, chairman of the England selectors.

The trouble began early in the England innings when several of the West Indians team confidently appealed against Boycott for a catch at the wicket off Boyce. It was turned down by Fagg and for the next two hours or more Kanhai openly showed his annoyance. Fagg requested an apology from the West Indies and although this was not forthcoming at the time Mr. Kentish stated that the West Indies team "are fully satisfied with Mr. Fagg's umpiring."

The match was also notable for the fact that for the first time a touring Test team contained eleven English county players, for the West Indies left out Inshan Ali--clearly a defensive measure--and preferred Holder.

Fine bowling on the first morning by Arnold and Old after Kanhai had won the toss, caused the first three West Indies wickets to fall for 39, but Fredericks, discarding his natural punishing instincts, kept his end intact all day while he scored 98 and saw five of his colleagues go for 190 runs. At one stage Fredericks was completely tied down by Illingworth, who bowled so accurately that he gave away only 18 runs in 27 overs including 18 maidens.

It should be emphasised that following the scenes at The Oval, where the crowd frequently raced over the boundary into the middle, the officials at Edgbaston marked no boundary which went to the actual fences behind which the crowd remained throughout the five days so there were no interruptions through invasions, but runs were harder to come by.

First thing on Saturday morning, Fredericks completed his patient century with a magnificent straight drive and altogether he stayed eight and a half hours for his 150, which included seventeen 4's. With Murray giving stubborn resistance for three and a half hours and Julien hitting boldly for 54 (nine 4's), the innings realised a total of 327.

After his exertions at The Oval, Boyce could not summon the same hostility; he was also handicapped by a sore heel and took no part in the attack when England batted a second time. Boycott and Amiss began well enough and were still together at the close when England's score reached 96.

The first session before lunch on Saturday, when 20,000 people were present, was most unpleasant. Indeed during the interval the umpires warned against the slow over-rate of 26 in the two hours, but Boyce and Julien also constantly flung down short bouncers and ran down the pitch. There was deliberate time wasting and it was significant that in the hour immediately after lunch the West Indies mended their ways when Sobers and Gibbs sent down 24 overs.

Meanwhile, the England innings ran a somewhat unhappy course. Quite early, Boycott, struck in the chest overnight when he collided with Murray in scrambling home when Kallicharran returned wide, found his ribs too painful to continue. Five wickets went down for 197 before there came a staunch stand by Fletcher and Illingworth and the end of the third day found England 265 for seven.

England showed no enterprise when they resumed on Monday and from 19 overs in the first hour Fletcher and Arnold added only 23 runs. Boycott reappeared when Fletcher was ninth out at 302, but soon Underwood went and West Indies led by 22.

This time they did not worry about early failures, and Kanhai and Lloyd produced many handsome strokes, the tall left-hander making his brilliant 94 in under three hours. At the end of the fourth day West Indies were 205 for five and Kanhai, disinclined to take the slightest risk, allowed the innings to run its full course. England gave a patchy display of fielding, an exception being David Turner of Hampshire, who replaced Boycott and saved many runs. Sobers drove splendidly in his fine innings of 74 and eventually England were left to get 325 to win in three hours, fifty minutes.

It was a task they never entertained but Luckhurst, who opened, and Amiss and Fletcher indulged in some easy practice. Hayes unwisely offered no stroke to a ball that came back and surprised him.

The Prudential-Wisden Awards of £150 went to R. C. Fredericks and G. G. Arnold.--N.P.

© John Wisden & Co