Fifth Test Match

ENGLAND v WEST INDIES 1957

L.S.

At The Oval, August 22, 23, 24. England won by an innings and 237 runs and confirmed their overwhelming superiority over West Indies. The match ended at half-past two on Saturday, the third time in the series that a game had ended inside three days. Dismissed for the two lowest totals they had ever recorded in a Test against England, West Indies gave a most disappointing all-round display.

The Oval presented a strange sight before the match began. The outfield was lush green and in perfect order, but the pitch itself, unusually red-brown, resembled in colour a matting strip. Apparently the heavy rain of the previous week hindered the preparation and much of the dressing remained on top, where it caked. As a result, whenever the ball pitched on the first day a cloud of dust arose as the surface cracked and throughout the match slow bowlers were able to turn the ball appreciably. The dust was not so noticeable on the second and third days, but the ball continued to turn, although not until the West Indies' second innings did it spin quickly enough to be really awkward. Like other touring teams before under similar circumstances, West Indies found Lock and Laker far too good for them.

England made one change from the side successful at Leeds, Bailey returning for Smith. Influenza prevented Gilchrist playing for West Indies and injuries deprived them of two of their best spin bowlers, Atkinson and Valentine. Dewdney played his first Test against England, he and Asgarali replacing Gilchrist and Pairaudeau. At the end of the first day Goddard, the captain, developed influenza and could not bat in either innings.

Richardson and Sheppard formed a new opening pair when May won the toss and for the first time in the series a right-hander, Sheppard, began the innings. Richardson's previous partners were the left-handers, Close and Smith.

With the game half an hour old Goddard realised the pitch was far more suitable to spin than speed and he brought on Ramadhin and Sobers. Although turning the ball slowly, they failed to unsettle the batsmen and Richardson and Sheppard shared the best opening stand of the series. They stayed two and a half hours for 92 before Sheppard returned a catch to Goddard, the best of the bowlers.

A second wicket did not fall until just before half-past five, Richardson and Graveney adding 146 in two and a half hours of splendid stroke-play. Richardson, sound in defence and adept at stealing sharp singles, batted five hours for 107. A breakdown followed Richardson's departure, May, Cowdrey and Bailey being out for the addition of 18, but nothing could disturb Graveney, who drove superbly and finished the day with 113. Next morning Evans hit powerfully and scored 40 of the 66 added for the sixth wicket in fifty-five minutes. Lock and Trueman gave more good support to Graveney who was eventually ninth out for 164 after an innings of almost five and a half hours. He hit seventeen 4's and his only mistake came when at 153 he offered a hard chance to extra cover.

England were all out at lunch time for 412, their fourth total over 400 in the series. Rain held up play for thirty-five minutes after West Indies had scored five without loss. It did not affect the pitch but almost immediately after the game was resumed Worrell gave a catch to short leg.

England had to fight hard for the next success. May soon brought on Laker and Lock and although it was obvious that West Indies faced a hard struggle, Asgarali and Sobers defended resolutely and were content to wait for the occasional loose ball. It seemed that West Indies intended to fight all the way, but after a second interruption, because of bad light, there came an astonishing collapse.

It began when Asgarali gave a catch to slip. Then in the next thirty-three minutes seven more wickets fell for 21 runs and with Goddard absent West Indies were all out just before the close for 89. There seemed no definite policy by the West Indies batsmen who could not decide whether to defend or attack. Walcott, Smith and then Sobers, who had batted so well, were out to reckless strokes and the others were thoroughly beaten. After the break for light Lock took five wickets for ten runs in 31 balls and Laker claimed three for 15. Lock finished the innings by taking four wickets in seven balls.

West Indies followed on 323 behind on the third morning and fared no better. They changed their batting order, Kanhai going in first with Asgarali. He was soon out to Trueman. Then Laker and Lock carried on the devastation of the first innings.

Once more Sobers made a defiant effort but he and Walcott were the only men to reach double figures and in two hours twenty minutes the innings was completed. Sobers remained an hour and forty minutes and was top scorer in each innings. Weekes, completely out of form, failed to score in the match.

Lock accomplished his best Test performance in taking six wickets for 20 in the second innings and eleven for 48 in the match. Only once previously had West Indies been dismissed for under 100 by England, at Lord's in 1933 when they made 97. Attendance, 63,128; receipts, £30,833.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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