Second Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v WEST INDIES 1991

Alan Lee

Toss: West Indies.

There were times in this match when it seemed that England's victory at Headingley had been nothing but a deception, and that West Indies were about to resume their prolonged domination, possibly with a victory inside three days. That it did not happen owed almost everything to a vivid century by Smith. Given a full five days' cricket the match could have gone either way, but, not for the first time, the weather did not smile upon the traditional June week. Almost two days were lost, including the first scheduled Sunday of Test cricket at Lord's for nine years. Ticket-holders were refunded, an outgoing of £400,000 which the Test and County Cricket Board's insurance policy did not completely cover.

England selected an unchanged eleven, and so went into the match without a specialist slow bowler on a ground which usually calls for one. By the end, Gooch was admitting that this had been an error. West Indies introduced Allen for the injured Patterson, and on winning the toss they enjoyed an untroubled morning against some wayward England bowling, notably from Malcolm, who conceded almost 6 runs an over. However, when Gooch brought on Hick, his emergency spinner, for the last over before lunch, Simmons obligingly dabbed a catch to slip. Haynes, becalmed, was out to a good diving catch by Russell half an hour after the interval, but the only other wicket to fall before the close was that of Richardson, who had a rush of blood against Hick soon after tea. The final session belonged to Hooper and Richards. Hooper had overcome a frail start against Hick, and the way Richards batted as he scored 50 from 63 balls - the luckless Defreitas was hooked into the Tavern stand for six - the stage looked set for his final Test century at Lord's. But in the third over on Friday morning, after a 75-minute delay because of the weather, he was lbw to Defreitas, and Logie was rapidly swept away by the same, fast-developing bowler. Although Hooper reached his first hundred against England, Pringle picked up four of the last five wickets as West Indies declined from an overnight 317 for three to 419 all out. Hooper's 111, from 202 balls in 4 hours 40 minutes, contained fourteen fours and a six.

Any satisfaction England felt at their revival lasted only as long as it took Ambrose to pluck out Atherton and Hick, without conceding a run, in his first four overs. Atherton played on, trying to withdraw his bat, and Hick gloved a lifter to third slip to end a short but tortured stay. When Ambrose was bowling, this looked a different game; and Marshall, not to be outdone, reduced England to 16 for three, thanks to a hapless shot from Lamb. Between them, Atherton, Hick and Lamb had aggregated 37 runs in nine innings in the series. Gooch, whose survival was far from untroubled, found a resolute partner in Ramprakash, but after more than an hour together they were both out to the second wave of fast bowlers. England stood precariously at 84 for five, 136 short of the initial task of avoiding the follow-on, and even on what was still a very good pitch, this seemed an unlikely mission.

The full house which gathered on Saturday morning must have done so with trepidation; it was clearly possible that they would witness the end of the game. And they might have done so if Logie had held on to a sharp catch at short leg before Smith had added to his overnight 23. It was the last chance he would offer in an innings which bestrode the sunny day as few others can have on the Lord's Saturday. He received appreciable support from Russell, Pringle and Defreitas, and when the last man, Malcolm, gave a fourth wicket to Ambrose, Smith was undefeated at his highest Test score after almost seven hours of graphic concentration. Moreover, England were only 65 runs behind. Smith had faced 271 balls and he hit twenty fours in his 148 not out.

The lost Sunday virtually ruled out all chance of a result, and yet when bad light, followed by further rain, drew a veil over proceedings on Monday morning it was, unbelievably, England who had their noses in front. In the 4.5 overs between the start of play, on time in a near-deserted ground, and the weather closing in again, Defreitas and Malcolm had removed Simmons and Richardson to put a spring back in England's step.

Man of the Match: R. A. Smith. Attendance: 106,232; receipts £1,805,213.

Close of play: First day, West Indies 317-3 ( C. L. Hooper 87*, I. V. A. Richards 60*); Second day, England 110-5 ( R. A. Smith 23*, R. C. Russell 16*); Third day, West Indies 0-0 ( P. V. Simmons 0*, D. L. Haynes 0*); Fourth day, No play.

© John Wisden & Co