Fifth Test Match

West Indies v England

At Port of Spain, Trinidad, March 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31. Drawn. West Indies made a big effort to share the rubber and at one time on the fifth day looked capable of doing so. England held on, easily saved the game in the end and won the series 1--0. The cricket was better than in the fourth Test, but bowlers again found conditions too much for them. In an effort to unsettle England, West Indies included a third fast bowler, Griffith, he and Ramadhin replacing Scarlett and Singh. England strengthened their batting by including Parks as wicket-keeper for Swetman and, as it turned out, he played a vital part in the result. Moss took over from Statham, who returned home.

Cowdrey called correctly for England, who won the toss in all five games. Pullar soon left to a slip catch off a bouncer, but Cowdrey and Dexter showed some of the best batting of the tour and made 191 in three hours thirty-five minutes. Cowdrey gave two hard slip chances off Watson when 11 and 16 and a possible return catch to Hall when 51, but he batted delightfully and completely tamed the West Indies fast attack. Dexter maintained his fine form, though he might have been caught at the wicket when 37. Sobers dismissed both in successive overs. Cowdrey's 119 came in four and a quarter hours and included fifteen 4's.

The first day ended with England 256 for three, Barrington retiring hurt off the fifth ball of the last over, struck on the arm by Hall. The players then left the field and next morning the umpires ruled that a new batsman had to go in although Barrington was ready to resume. So Smith joined Subba Row. Rain caused the loss of twenty-six minutes before lunch and afterwards England struggled against clever spin bowling from Ramadhin and Sobers. Barrington went in again at the fall of the third wicket and after a shaky start batted well, but the last six wickets went following the interval for 85. This included a nicely played 43 by Parks.

Misfortune struck West Indies when they batted, Hunte having to retire hurt when he missed his hook against a bouncer from Trueman and received a blow on the forehead which needed two stitches. Kanhai, because of a damaged hand, did not bat at number three. At 26 Alexander straight drove Trueman, who stuck out a foot and deflected the ball into the stumps with McMorris starting for a run. By the close West Indies were 49 for one. Showers again interfered with play on the third day, two hours ten minutes being lost. Alexander and Sobers added only 14 off twelve overs in fifty minutes before lunch and their stand in all produced 77 before Alexander's careful innings ended. By the close West Indies were 150 for two, having lost a lot of ground by slow scoring and through the rain.

Walcott and Sobers shared a stand of 87 and at 215 for three West Indies looked in a reasonable position until Moss and Trueman, with the new ball, took three wickets for the addition of 15. Much more cautions than usual, Sobers batted five hours and a quarter for 92. At 230 for six West Indies were in trouble, but Hunte resumed his innings and received good support from Ramadhin and Hall.

Alexander declared 55 behind and captured Cowdrey's wicket straight away. Hall strained his left side bowling the first ball and was at half pace when Cowdrey turned a catch to short leg two balls later. Hall could bowl only four overs in three spells during the innings. The fifth day was packed with drama. Allen, the overnight stop gap, and Pullar put on 66 but between lunch and tea England struggled so much against the spinners that in two hours they scored only 66 and lost three wickets. It could have been worse but for poor catching and faulty ground fielding.

England were only 203 on with four wickets left when Parks joined Smith. They were also worried by spin but after tea, following a short break for rain, Alexander decided to take the new ball and the situation changed completely. In the next forty-five minutes before the close the pair added 60 and on the last day they carried the stand to 197, a record for England's seventh wicket.

Cowdrey refused to give West Indies the slightest chance of sharing the series, delaying his declaration until after lunch when Parks completed his maiden Test century in just over three and a half hours. West Indies needed 406 to win at 140 an hour and although they never had any hopes they batted brightly to the end. When catching Smith, Alexander equalled the world's wicket-keeping record of 23 victims in a series. The pitch towards close took a good deal of spin and it was a moot point whether England might have won if Cowdrey had declared earlier.

© John Wisden & Co