Test Match

West Indies v South Africa 1991-92

Toss: South Africa.

An epic inaugural Test between the two countries ended in West Indies' 11th consecutive victory at the Kensington Oval. But South Africa were on top for the first four days, until a dramatic collapse preserved their hosts' 57-year-old unbeaten record in Barbados. Needing only 201 to win, the South Africans were well placed at 122 for two at the start of the fifth day. Quality fast bowling from Ambrose and Walsh removed their last eight wickets while another 26 runs were scored, and they were bowled out for 148, 20 minutes before lunch. Attendances throughout the game were minimal because Barbadians stayed away in protest against West Indian selection policy. The total attendance was only 6,500 and there were fewer than 500 spectators on the ground to witness one of West Indies' finest fightbacks, but scores of them charged ecstatically after their team on its lap of honour. All 11 players linked hands to show the people of the Caribbean how united we are, said a visibly relieved Richardson. It was the first Test as captain of a West Indian side in transition after the era of Richards, Greenidge, Marshall and Dujon, and missing Logie and Hooper through injury.

Wessels, who played 24 Tests for Australia between 1982-83 and 1985-86, became the 13th player to represent two countries at Test level. He won a good toss, and followed the example set in the previous ten Bridgetown tests by electing to field first. Just before tea West Indies had reached 219 for three and a big score looked likely. Richardson, Arthurton and Williams all played loose shots, however, and the last seven wickets fell for 43. Arthurton drove gloriously for his first Test fifty, with ten fours, but he was caught slashing to point.

The South African took advantage of a true pitch at its best on the second day to gain a first-innings lead of 83. Nearly half their runs came from Hudson, the first man to score a hundred for South Africa on his Test début. Displaying unflagging concentration and a solid technique, he hit 20 fours and defied a lacklustre attack for eight hours and 40 minutes. The four West Indian fast bowlers, including newcomer Kenny Benjamin, seemed hamstrung by their first experience of the ICC restriction of one bouncer per over per batsman. Crucially, Hudson was dropped when 22 by Walsh at long leg, from the first ball Ambrose had banged in really short to him, and again on 66 by West Indies' new wicket-keeper, Williams, off Patterson.

The West Indians then succumbed to some incisive bowling. At the end of the third day they were 184 for seven, and the tourists appeared to be on the brink of a famous victory. Even to get there, West Indies had had two pieces of extreme good fortune. Haynes played the second ball of the innings, from Donald, on to his off stump without dislodging a bail. Later Lara, who had just reached his maiden Test fifty trod on his off stump going back to Bosch. The incident was clear in television replays, but he was reprieved as neither umpire had seen it. This was the only moment of friction between the teams on the whole tour. Adams, the left-handed débutant, batted with composure and common sense for 221 minutes and his last-wicket partnership of 62 with Patterson, who was beaten umpteen times, proved a match-winner. Adams capitalised on Wessels's refusal to employ a sweeper on the cover boundary, which might have saved 50 runs.

On a pitch that was now uneven, the South Africans quickly lost both openers. But they were manoeuvred into a winning position by Wessels and Kirsten, the senior members of the side; Kirsten, at 36, was the second-oldest South African to make his Test début after 40-year-old G. W. A. Chubb in 1951. They had added 95 in 42 overs by the close, but were swept away next morning by Walsh, in an inspired spell of four for eight in 11 overs. Cutting the ball both ways, he finally found the form that eluded him earlier. Ambrose mopped up the tail to finish with match figures of 60.4-26-81-8.

Men of the Match: C. E. L. Ambrose and A. C. Hudson.

Close of play: First day, South Africa 13-0 (M. W. Rushmere 2*, A. C. Hudson 9*); Second day, South Africa 254-4 (A. C. Hudson 135*, A. P. Kuiper 19*); Third day, West Indies 184-7 (J. C. Adams 23*, K. C. G. Benjamin 6*); Fourth day, South Africa 122-2 (K. C. Wessels 74*, P. N. Kirsten 36*).

© John Wisden & Co