Fifth Test Match

WEST INDIES v ENGLAND 1953-54

In overcoming the disadvantage of losing the toss for the fourth time in the series England accomplished their most noteworthy achievement by inflicting defeat upon such a powerful batting side and so drawing level in the rubber after being two down.

When Stollmeyer beat Hutton in the toss few would have given England much hope of victory. The pitch looked perfect and, in fact, it contained no more life than any well-prepared strip does on the first day. In the circumstances the utter collapse of the West Indies for 139 bordered on the incredible. The architect of England's bowling triumph was the vice-captain, Bailey, who, had Statham been fit to play, might well have been confined to a few overs. Instead Bailey, inspired by constant successes, beginning with a fine short-leg catch by Lock from his fifth ball, swung a little either way to a spot length and occasionally cut sharply off the seam. One such ball whipped back from the off and bowled Weekes. When Worrell, stabbing apprehensively at a fast short ball immediately following a bumper, gave a catch to short-leg, four men were out for 13 runs in forty minutes. Three fell to Bailey for five runs.

Walcott led a partial recovery, but Bailey could not be denied for long and he achieved easily his best analysis in Test cricket. As Bailey himself was first to say, he would have been pleased with figures only half as good in a county match played in similar conditions. Straight from his bowling exertions Bailey accompanied Hutton to open the innings. They played safely through the last thirty-five minutes, and although they made only 24 runs from 24 overs before lunch on the second day they accomplished their mission of safety while the turf eased from sweating under the covers during the night.

In the effort to pull round, Stollmeyer called on his fast bowler, King, for a maximum effort. During the day King's analysis was 21--11--31--2 and he was always most difficult to play. He bowled straight and very fast, but his over-use of the bumper was not to be commended. One brought about the dismissal of Compton, who tumbled into his wicket in evading a flying ball. When, at the close, England led by only 55 with half their wickets gone, West Indies had good reason for satisfaction, but the hard work had told upon King, who strained a leg muscle and could not bowl again in the innings.

Next day the bowling, without King, contained little bite and, after more early consolidation, England went over to the attack. In two hours between lunch and tea they scored 146 runs. Once again Hutton was the bulwark of the England innings. He received able help in century stands from Evans, whose innings of two hours and twenty minutes was his longest in Test cricket, and Wardle (one 6 and nine 4's). For concentration and control, Hutton's innings of a shade under nine hours scarcely could have been excelled. Many of his twenty-three 4's--he also drove Sobers for 6--came from his cover-drive. This, the only double century by an England captain on a tour abroad, was Hutton's nineteenth Test hundred. Considering the responsibilities and worries on his shoulders, he deserved unstinted praise.

When West Indies lost four wickets--three to Trueman, who produced some of his most accurate and hostile fast bowling of the tour--for 123, visions arose of an innings defeat, but the dependable Walcott found solid partners in Atkinson and Gomez, and England were left to make 72 to win, one more than in the Third Test. Just after reaching the 90's Walcott was struck hard on the left wrist and, although no bone was fractured, he felt such pain afterwards that he could not attempt a forcing stroke. The restriction was partly responsible for Walcott's dismissal soon after he completed his third century of the series. In an innings only little less meritorious than that of Hutton, Walcott hit twenty 4's.

Well as he bowled, Trueman followed King in the employment of too many bumpers and, like King, he received one initial caution from the umpire at the bowler's end as laid down in Law 46. Laker, who constantly varied his offbreaks, revelled in his chance to bowl for a long spell.

A shower towards the end of the West Indies innings left the pitch slightly moist and, after Graveney had been bowled in King's first over, Watson and May lived through, a short series of adventures, but May, striking handsomely, soon made the finish certain with a day to spare. So West Indies suffered their first defeat at Sabina Park.

The match throughout was played without any of the rancour which marred some of the earlier games.

© John Wisden & Co