First Test

WEST INDIES v ENGLAND 1993-94

Toss: England.

The momentous victory here in February 1990 had sustained English optimism at the start of this series but Sabina Park was not now so accommodating. England were always in trouble after squandering a century opening stand by losing seven wickets for 73 on the first afternoon. Although there was a flurry of excitement as West Indies stumbled to 23 for three, their middle order proved decisively more resilient. The match was as good as over when England, trailing by 173, collapsed to 63 for four on the third evening. But the quality of Walsh's fast bowling in that session was later compromised by an unwarranted and unpunished intimidation of the England No. 11, Malcolm. In allowing such cynical bowling, directed at the body and latterly from round the wicket, to pass unchecked, the Zimbabwean umpire, Ian Robinson, may have undermined confidence in the new ICC panel of independent umpires.

England decided to counter the predictable battery of West Indian fast bowlers with four seamers of their own, the same strategy they had employed here four years earlier. Omitted, along with the unlucky Tufnell, was his Middlesex colleague, Ramprakash, so Thorpe was asked to bat at No. 3, ahead of the more experienced Smith and Hick. Atherton won a valuable toss and, midway through the first afternoon, England were in tranquil waters at 121 without loss. As so often with West Indian pace, the storm gathered dramatically and without warning: three wickets fell for 13 runs. Kenny Benjamin had both openers caught behind and, when Smith, of whom much was expected, was bowled by Walsh pushing down the wrong line, the previously subdued crowed transformed the atmosphere. Benjamin finished with six for 66, easily his best Test figures, and England fell at least 100 short of a competitive total.

When Haynes, Simmons and Richardson, all showing signs of rustiness, were banished by Caddick and a fired-up Malcolm, England briefly hoped Kingston history might repeat itself. Thereafter, however, the bowling lacked the consistency or penetration to trouble players as good as Lara, Arthurton and Adams. The three left-handers amassed 304 between them. Although Arthurton alone reached a century, Lara played strokes well worth the price of admission in his 83, and Adams provided the solidity among the shotmakers which West Indies had lacked since the retirement of Logie. He was finally stranded on 95 not out.

The England openers were batting as comfortably as they had done in the first innings until Stewart was run out attempting a third run, whereupon Walsh discernibly changed gear. In the second half of an unbroken two-hour spell he bowled harrowingly fast and short to dismiss Atherton and Smith - both caught by Adams, who equalled the West Indian record of six catches in a Test. When Maynard went too, England were virtually finished. But Hick, arriving at the height of the battle, won many admirers with an innings of 96, obliging West Indies to bat again and taking the game ten minutes into its fifth day. Hick, who had totalled only 75 runs in seven innings against West Indies in 1991, batted for 310 minnutes before being sharply caught at slip by the substitute, Harper. A last-wicket stand of 39 further frustrated West Indies, provoking the unedifying assault by Walsh against Malcolm who, despite a Test-best 18, remained one of the most inept batsmen in international cricket. English morale suffered another blow when Malcolm flew home a few days later, for an operation on a knee injury quite unrelated to the body blows he had taken.

Man of the Match: J. C. Adams.

Close of play: First day, England 209-7 (M. P. Maynard 24*, A. R. Caddick 3*); Second day, West Indies 238-4 (K. L. T. Arthurton 113*, J. C. Adams 21*); Third day, England 80-4 (G. A. Hick 24*, R. C. Russell 6*); Fourth day, West Indies 87-2 (D. L. Haynes 40*).

© John Wisden & Co