Third Test Match

England v West Indies

At Birmingham, July 4, 5, 6, 8, 9. England won by 217 runs and maintained their unbeaten Test record at the Edgbaston ground. They had to thank Trueman for another splendid bowling performance.

In the previous Test at Lord's he took eleven wickets for 152 runs and now he finished with twelve for 119, the best Test analysis of his whole career. It was a wonderful effort for a man of 32, an age when many fast bowlers are getting over the hill, but Trueman proved the value of experience.

That the match went into the last afternoon was due almost entirely to the time lost through rain. The West Indies rarely do themselves justice in the absence of sunshine and England seized the chance to avenge their defeat at Old Trafford and level the series.

The team showed three changes from Lord's, Richardson, Sharpe and Lock coming in for Edrich, Cowdrey and Allen. West Indies preferred McMorris to Carew.

A deluge drenched the ground on the eve of the match, neither team being able to practise, but the covered pitch, if rather lifeless at times, never suffered any damage and, in fact, was fast and true when West Indies collapsed for 91 in the fourth innings.

The cricket on the first day after Dexter had won the toss gave no indication of England's eventual success. When a downpour prevented play after tea West Indies had captured five wickets in just under four hours for 157 runs.

The conditions did not suit Hall and Griffith although Hall knocked over Richardson's leg stump in his second over. Sobers carried much more danger for the batsmen, bowling left arm over the wicket at a lively pace through the air.

Close again served England splendidly and Dexter drove well. Sharpe survived some early difficulties, but generally the batting was disappointing.

The second day was almost completely spoiled by rain which restricted play to one hour and fifty minutes during which time the last five England wickets fell for 59 more runs. With Sobers achieving his best Test bowling performance in taking five wickets for 60 runs, the West Indies could claim the better of the argument at that stage. Sobers bowled through the seventy minutes cricket was in progress before lunch and Worrell gave him the new ball in preference to Hall.

Close and Parks exercised care against the varied swing of Sobers and the spin of Gibbs. The Yorkshire left-hander batted seven minutes short of three hours for his 55 which included five 4's.

There was a delay of over three hours after lunch before England resumed batting for the last forty minutes. Then Worrell relied on Hall and Griffith who proceeded to finish the innings.

On the third day, Saturday, the gates were closed with 28,000 present, but the cricket was limited to two hours and forty minutes during which West Indies replied with a score of 110 for four wickets. Play did not start until ten minutes to one and not a ball could be bowled after tea.

With no hard pitch to encourage him, Trueman reduced his run up and his pace to cut the ball either way. He maintained his attack for two hours and ten minutes, his only break being during the lunch interval.

Hunte faced the full brunt of Trueman while the tall left-handed Carew generally had more of Shackleton. Hunte lost his off stump when he played back to a half volley, but Carew hooked to good purpose until he gave a soft return off the splice to Trueman.

Dexter bowled splendidly for seventy-five minutes, but the third wicket went to Shackleton when Kanhai, after staying eighty-five minutes, was smartly taken low by Lock at short fine leg. In the next over, Solomon offered no stroke and was leg before having kneed the ball away from the off stump.

The fourth day, Monday, yielded the first full-day's play of the match and a crowd of 17,500 saw some splendid cricket during which 14 wickets went down for 302 runs. England soon gained the upper hand by taking the remaining six West Indies in eighty minutes for 76 the only resistance coming from Murray and Hall.

England's heroes were Dexter, Trueman and Sharpe. Dexter excelled in an all-round capacity for in taking four wickets for 38 he shared the bowling honour with Trueman and on top of this he gave a glimpse of his most attractive batting in scoring 57.

Again the pitch proved too slow for Hall, but Griffith and Sobers caused England to lose their first four wickets for 69. Stewart served England splendidly by staying one and three-quarter hours while the bowling was most difficult. When he left Sharpe began a most valuable partnership with Dexter.

At first both concentrated on defence. One hour passed before Dexter struck his first boundary, but after tea the England captain launched a fearful attack on the bowling. He hooked and drove his rival captain, Worrell, for five 4's.

England were 200 ahead and virtually out of danger when Dexter was smartly stumped by Murray and though Parks, Titmus and Trueman accomplished little, Lock joined Sharpe in a final half hour to complete this triumphal day for England. He presented a straight bat in defence and excelled with his favourite cover drive while making 23 out of the last 37 runs scored that day. Sharpe, 69 not out, drove splendidly getting his runs in two and three-quarter hours and so England's total reached 226 for 8, a lead of 256.

Even the new ball did not trouble Sharp and Lock on the last morning. The Yorkshireman, defiant to a degree, was outshone by his tail-end partner and they carried their stand to 89, the best for the ninth wicket for England against West Indies.

Lock claimed his first fifty in Test cricket. He hit seven 4's and Sharpe, not out for 85 in just under four hours, could look back on a memorable Test debut. His was the highest individual score and he held two vital catches at first slip.

The stage seemed set for an exciting finish when shortly after mid-day Dexter declared and set West Indies to make 309 in four hours forty minutes, a rate of 67 an hour. This challenge was not beyond their power but England struck early, seizing the initiative which they never relinquished. Trueman began the bowling from the pavilion end, assisted by a high cross wind. Shackleton drew first blood with his third ball which trapped Carew leg-before. Next over, Trueman claimed his first victim Hunte falling to a fine catch by Barrington at second slip.

The loss of the two opening batsmen for 10 runs proved a tragedy for West Indies. When Trueman rested after his first spell of fifty minutes the total stood at 38 for two and his figures were: 7-0-24-1. Dexter relieved Trueman and with his second ball knocked back Butcher's stump. By lunch England were in sight of victory with West Indies 55 for three.

Kanhai and Sobers resumed in a punishing mood, but with Trueman sharing the attack with Shackleton the rest of the side suddenly collapsed. England needed only fifty-five more minutes to polish them off for the last seven wickets added only 36 to the interval total. Trueman's final onslaught gave him the last six wickets in 24 balls during which the only scoring stroke was a late cut for 4 by Gibbs, the last man.

With a crowd of 11,000 on the last day the full match attendance was 86,500 with receipts of £36,349.

© John Wisden & Co