First Test Match

England v West Indies

Norman Preston

At Manchester, June 6, 7, 8, 10. West Indies won by ten wickets at twenty minutes to four on Monday with more than a day to spare.

In gaining their first Test victory on this famous ground they proved themselves superior in almost every phase of the game except the art of returning the ball accurately to the wicket-keeper or bowler. Perhaps they allowed their exuberance to run away with them.

Except for a biting wind and some rain on the first day, the match was contested throughout in comfortable conditions with the sun shining consistently.

West Indies owed much to the fine leadership of Worrell, who gained a big advantage in winning the toss as the pitch became responsive to spin on the third and fourth days.

To Hunte, the West Indies vice-captain, fell the distinction of making 182 out of 398 in eight hours, twenty minutes. If, at times, he progressed slowly, he hit twenty-seven 4's and his innings was easily the highest played by a visiting player in a Test at Old Trafford. It was only nine runs behind W.J. Edrich's 191 against South Africa in 1947, which stands as the highest individual score of the thirty-nine Tests played at the ground.

Kanhai, Sobers and Worrell also mastered the England bowling, and after Hall had caused the initial break-through, Gibbs bowled with rare distinction in gaining a match analysis of eleven wickets for 157. It ranked with S. Ramadhin's eleven for 152 at Lord's in 1950 when West Indies won for the first time in England and A.L. Valentine's eleven for 204 at Manchester the same year.

The match provided something unique in that for the first time in England three players from the same county occupied the first three places in the Test batting order: Stewart, Edrich and Barrington, of Surrey. There are only two instances abroad: A.C. MacLaren, A. Ward and J. Briggs, of Lancashire, occupied those places for England against Australia at Sydney in 1894-95, and A. Shrewsbury, W.H. Scotton and W. Barnes, of Nottinghamshire, at Melbourne in 1884-85.

In this current match, Edrich (England) and Carew and Murray (West Indies) made their first Test appearances. T.W. Cartwright (Warwickshire) was omitted from the twelve chosen by England.

The feature of the first day's play was a fine second-wicket stand of 151 in two hours, forty minutes between Hunte and Kanhai after Carew had gone at 37. While Hunte throughout his stay provided the solid basis for the West Indies mammoth total, Kanhai was the first to introduce the sparkle. Kanhai dominated the scene with brilliant strokes driving, hooking and cutting as well as running splendidly. He hit ten 4's and seemed set for a century when he was run out through a fine piece of fielding by Allen at mid-on, Hunte staying his ground while Kanhai dashed down the pitch and was stranded helplesly.

Butcher saw 51 added in an hour, but soon after Sobers arrived, bad light and then rain cut short the cricket by nearly one hour. West Indies finished with their score at 244 for three wickets, with Hunte 104. He reached his century in four hours, forty minutes, his only chance being to Trueman at short leg off Allen when he was 66.

While Trueman bowled with plenty of zest, Statham rarely worried the batsmen. Perhaps he was upset through missing a sitter from Carew off Trueman at mid-on early in the day.

West Indies did not spare the England bowlers on the second day. Hunte remained the central figure, but in the first hour he and Sobers added only 29, the left-hander refusing to be tempted by Trueman's attack on his off stump.

The four main England bowlers all performed creditably, Allen putting in two fine spells, each of ninety minutes. Sobers hooked Statham for 6 and later drove Allen for his second 6, but seeking another he gave a steepling catch which was well taken by Edrich at long-off. This stand put on 120 in two and a half hours, and then came another quiet spell while Solomon made only 4 in three-quarters of an hour. Hunte left just before half-past three, taken by Titmus at short mid-on, at which stage Worrell entered to apply the finishing touch to his side's display. Trueman and Statham had the third new ball, and each bowler suffered when Close twice dropped Worrell at first slip.

Solomon occupied two hours twenty minutes for 35, whereas his captain thrived on firm drives, deft late-cuts and some leg hits. When Worrell declared, his swashbuckling 74 contained twenty-nine scoring strokes, fifteen 4's and fourteen singles and came out of 103 in ninety-five minutes.

To their credit Stewart and Edrich did not falter when they tackled Hall and Griffith for the last fifty minutes. Both fast bowlers were quick but erratic, and Edrich hit four 4's, England finishing the second day with their total 31 for no wicket.

The third morning spelt disaster for England. Within fifty minutes, Hall removed Edrich, Barrington and Cowdrey while the total crept to 67 and, despite a brilliant innings of 73 by Dexter, five wickets were down by the middle of the afternoon for 181. Stewart stayed two hours and forty minutes, being fourth to leave at 108 soon after Gibbs entered the attack for the first time.

Dexter received valuable help from Close until the Yorkshire left-hander tried to follow his captain in hitting Gibbs for 6 and was taken at long-off when the stand had realised 73.

That was the end of any serious resistance by England. Gibbs and Sobers gained the upper hand, and even Dexter received an almost unplayable googly which jumped off a perfect length and struck his glove for Worrell to take an easy slip catch. Dexter hit two 6's and seven 4's and his 73 in three and a quarter hours was the top score of a sad day for England.

So England followed on 296 behind, and this time Stewart and Edrich began with the best opening stand for their country in eight Tests. They looked like being together over the week-end, but ten minutes from the close Edrich was caught by Hunte at short-leg at the second attempt. Three overs remained and Andrew arrived to see them through, England's total when stumps were drawn being 97 for one wicket.

It soon became evident on Monday that the pitch was more suited to spin than to pace. Andrew remained for nearly an hour, and Stewart, quick on his feet and moving forward to the slow bowlers, batted splendidly until trying to cut Gibbs he provided Murray with his fifth catch of the match at 165 after batting three and a half hours and hitting eleven 4's. As Cowdrey failed for a second time West Indies claimed five wickets for 191 at lunch.

Dexter and Close prolonged the struggle, but Gibbs and Sobers proved an ideal combination and nine wickets were down for 268 before Trueman lashed away to such purpose that he straight drove each bowler for 6. With Statham punishing Gibbs also for 6 Worrell recalled Griffith, who had bowled so well without reward until he proved too much for Statham when the scores were level. So West Indies had to bat again to get merely a single which Hunte made off the only ball sent down in their second-innings.

This well-merited victory gave West Indies six successive Test wins for the first time. The full attendance for the four days was 67,000 and the receipts came to £22,696.

© John Wisden & Co