First Test Match

West Indies v England

Over six days only eighteen wickets fell on a pitch which gave bowlers not the slightest help and reduced the match to an exercise in patience and stamina for batsmen. Even at the end of the game the ball scarcely turned. Statham, who slipped and fell in the rain at the end of the Barbados game, damaged a hamstring muscle and could not play. Allen received his first chance for England; Watson and Scarlett made their debuts for West Indies.

May did England a good service by winning the toss, although Pullar and Cowdrey had to withstand a fiery attack from Hall and Watson, who made liberal use of the bouncer and, even with the pitch slow, provided plenty of problems. Cowdrey touched a rising ball to second slip but Pullar found another good partner in Barrington. The failure of May, brilliantly caught low down at the wicket on the leg-side, came as a shock and at the end of the first day England were 188 for three. Barrington hit his first Test century, batting five and a half hours for 128 (twenty 4's) but at 303 for six England were by no means well placed. Then Dexter and Swetman changed the situation by adding 123. Dexter, in fine driving form, gave a polished display, taking out his bat for 136 (one 6, nineteen 4's) after four and three-quarter hours.

Alexander established a new West Indies wicket-keeping record by dismissing five batsmen in the innings, all catches. West Indies began their reply at lunch time on the third day and made a bad start, losing McMorris to a run-out off a no ball at six. By the end of the day England looked to be on top with West Indies 114 for three. Then came a remarkable stand, Sobers and Worrell remaining together from 4.50 p.m. on Friday until 11.40 a.m. on Tuesday, a total of nine hours thirty minutes, and adding 399, the highest for any West Indies wicket against England and the best fourth-wicket stand by any country against England.

Sobers offered a difficult return catch to Trueman when seven and another to mid-on off Allen when 40. Worrell should have been caught at short mid-on when 109 off Illingworth, but these were the only blemishes during the long partnership. Both batsmen were in complete control against an attack which was almost helpless on the easy conditions. Sobers, strong all round, batted ten hours forty-seven minutes for 226 which included twenty-four 4's. Worrell, at his best when driving, stayed eleven hours twenty minutes for 197 not out (two 6's, seventeen 4's). These were the two longest innings ever played against England. By the end of the fifth day West Indies were four ahead with four wickets left, but they failed to score quickly against steady bowling and a defensive field, adding only 77 in two hours ten minutes, Worrell managing no more than 20 in that time. When the declaration came with West Indies 81 ahead only two hours forty minutes remained and rain cut this short by twenty minutes. Pullar and Cowdrey quietly kept their wickets intact.

© John Wisden & Co