Third Test Match

England v West Indies

Geoffrey Wheeler

After holding the world's fastest bowlers at bay in the previous five tests England finally bowed the knee to pace on a cracked, often unpredictable pitch at Old Trafford.

The England batsmen were overwhelmed by Roberts and Holding with Daniel a dangerous accomplice. Only Australia has dismissed England for fewer than the first innings total of 71 -- on seven occasions.

The match was not only a triumph for West Indies fast bowlers because Greenidge became the first batsman to make a century in each innings of a Manchester Test. George Headley alone among the West Indies cricketers had previously hit two hundreds in one match against England.

Greenidge foiled England on the fist morning when four wickets fell for 26 runs to an opening attack of Selvey and Hendrick. With Snow, Old and most of the other English fast bowlers unfit, Selvey gained his first cap, while the veterans Edrich and Close were nominated as the third opening batting pair of the series, replacing Brearley and Wood. Hayes was brought into the middle order. West Indies made four changes from Lord's.

Richards, recovered from illness, replaced Gomes, King was given his first Test in place of Julien, Daniel was recalled for Holder and the off-spinner Padmore was preferred to the left-arm Jumadeen.

England's start exceeded all expectations. Selvey, at no more than fast medium, swung the new ball appreciably and after having Fredericks caught on the boundary edge from a full-blooded hook he bowled Richards and forced Kallicharran to play on, thus taking three wickets in his first 20 balls.

With Lloyd well caught at short leg off Hendrick, King found himself at the crease before forty minutes had passed. Soon after he arrived Greenidge, then 26, mistimed a hook off Woolmer. But, instead of the catch being entrusted to Underwood at long leg, Knott dashed after it and in the general confusion the ball eluded both. Greenidge hit the next three balls for 4 each and West Indies were off the hook.

King restrained his attacking instincts while making 32 of a partnership of 111 in two hours and Greenidge, who passed his second Test hundred in two hours, fifty minutes, was finally ninth out for 134 after four hours, ten minutes, an innings of fine strokes and responsible attitude which enabled his side to total 211.

England lost Close and Steele before the end of the day while scoring 37 but there was no hint of the destruction awaiting them the following morning. In eighty-five minutes England were all out, the last eight wickets, in fact, going in an hour for 25 runs.

Holding, who took five for 9 in 7.5 overs was the leader of a fearsome trio. Some balls lifted at frightening speed and Greig and Underwood both had narrow escapes from what could have been serious injury. Woolmer and Hayes received balls which were all but unplayable and even the greatest of batting sides would have been severely taxed.

When England took the field Hendrick and Selvey were mild indeed in comparison. Greenidge and Fredericks rattled up 116 in 29 overs for the first wicket and by the end of the second day West Indies were completely in control.

On Saturday they piled up 411 for five before Lloyd declared soon after tea. Greenidge (101) and Richards (135) put on 108 for the second wicket. When Greenidge lost his middle stump to Selvey, attempting his fourteenth four, Richards moved commandingly to his sixth Test century of 1976. He stayed four and three-quarter hours and hit eighteen boundaries before falling lbw to Pocock. The England spinners bowled well and managed to prevent the batsmen from running amok.

So England went in needing 552 in thirteen and a quarter hours, a forlorn prospect. The period before the close of the third day brought disquieting cricket as Edrich and Close grimly defended their wickets and themselves against fast bowling, which was frequently too wild and too hostile to be acceptable.

Holding was finally warned for intimidation by umpire Alley after an excess of bouncers. Lloyd admitted after the match: "Our fellows got carried away. They knew they had only eighty minutes that night to make an impression and they went flat out, sacrificing accuracy for speed. They knew afterwards they had bowled badly."

No such mistake was made on the Monday when Roberts was relentless in the role of chief destroyer. Once the brave fight for time by Edrich and Close had been ended no batsman threatened performance, although Hayes resisted well after coming in on a hat trick from Roberts who had another opportunity a little later. He had Knott caught in the gully and Underwood taken at third slip off successive balls and then had to wait for Daniel to bowl a maiden to Hayes and endure a drinks interval before he got a chance at Selvey.

The new batsman edged his first ball straight to Greenidge who dropped it and knelt for a few seconds with head bowed as Roberts showed his disappointment. A thunderstorm at tea and more rain just as play was due to restart at 5.40 reprieved England at 125 for nine.

But there was to be no rescue by the Manchester weather, for next morning was dry and 20 balls sufficed to complete the rout. Fittingly the last wicket fell to Roberts, who finished with six for 37 for a match return of nine for 59, against Holding's seven for 41 and Daniel's four for 52.

Greig, given a public vote of confidence by the chairman of selectors during the match, ended it with a batting average for the series to date of 7.6. Attendance 75,000. Receipts £63,000.

© John Wisden & Co