Fourth Test Match

West Indies v England

At Georgetown, February 27, 28, March 1, 2. West Indies won by 242 runs. Toss: West Indies. Test debut: D. Ramnarine.

Notorious for the equatorial rainfall that has repeatedly transformed Bourda from a cricket ground into a lake, Guyana was instead in the grip of the longest drought in living memory. It was attributed to El Niño, the Pacific Ocean weather phenomenon, and was to have as profound an effect on the Test as on the country's sugar and rice crops.

The outfield was arid and bone-hard, and quickly absorbed the water used to prepare the pitch, which became more and more broken as the match went on. Batting was never comfortable after the first day, but neither was it quite as difficult as the last three totals suggested. Indeed, England's last four first-innings wickets added 95 and last man Tufnell batted for over an hour, while Bishop and debutant Dinanath Ramnarine added 70, a record for West Indies' last wicket against England, in their second innings, to put the match conclusively out of England's reach.

The toss was vital, and West Indies made the most of it by accumulating 271 for three on the first day. Yet their comprehensive win also came because they possessed the more penetrative and better balanced bowling. Both teams strengthened their spin attack but, whereas England's replacement of Caddick by Croft left them with only two fast bowlers, Headley and Fraser, West Indies still had Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop, with nearly 850 Test wickets between them, even after introducing the leg-spinner Ramnarine. England's cause was further undermined by several missed chances, notably when Stewart put down Chanderpaul, going to his right at second slip off Fraser, before lunch on the first day. Chanderpaul had made only nine of his eventual 118.

The openers had again fallen cheaply as Headley and Fraser capitalised on the temporary bounce and movement afforded by the little moisture in the pitch. But Chanderpaul and Lara took control in an enterprising partnership of 159. Lara led the way with two sixes and 13 fours from 201 balls until, seven away from repeating his hundred in the same Test four years earlier, he failed to keep down a drive at Croft and was well taken, low down, by Thorpe at extra cover. Hooper announced himself with a straight six off Tufnell third ball, but Chanderpaul commanded the attention as he neared his hundred. When he reached it, ten minutes before the close, he was enveloped by dozens of ecstatic Guyanese who had not seen one of their own score a Test hundred at Bourda since Clive Lloyd's 178 against Australia in 1972-73.

The nature of the game changed dramatically on the second day, on which 13 wickets fell for 168. West Indies lost their last seven for 81, their first three to the second new ball, the last four to spin. Chanderpaul eventually edged Fraser to first slip, having batted all told for just under six and a half hours, with a six and 15 fours. By the close, England were tottering against a similar bowling combination at 87 for six. Ambrose, as usual, triggered the trouble by removing Atherton through a first-slip catch in his second over.

Ramprakash, in the team for the first time in the series to replace Crawley, impressively led England's revival the next morning, in company with Croft, who helped him add 64, and Tufnell, who remained with him long enough to ensure there would be no follow-on. They were aided by Lara's baffling decision not to use Ambrose and to delay taking the second new ball. The game's most feared fast bowler was ignored until after lunch, when Lara was off the field for repairs to a knock on the finger and Hooper was in charge. Ambrose promptly despatched Tufnell, leaving Ramprakash unbeaten after 180 balls of unruffled defiance in difficult circumstances.

With a lead of 182, West Indies set off at frenetic pace in their second innings and were 32 for three before Lara and Hooper recognised the need for more care. Later, four wickets went down for four runs to the off-spin of Croft and Ramprakash in the closing overs. West Indies started the fourth day 309 ahead with their last pair together. It was probably enough even then, but England's mood had been buoyed by their carelessness. It needed the level-headed Bishop, with aid from Ramnarine, who was missed four times, to dash their hopes again.

Set an unlikely 380 on a deteriorating pitch, England started their second innings an over before lunch with the aim of avoiding a humiliating defeat. They were beaten in the last scheduled over of the day, by the biggest margin of runs in a Test between the teams since they lost by 298 in Barbados in 1980-81, sparing Lara the formality of claiming an extra half-hour.

They had no answer to the familiar, dreaded combination of Ambrose, who thundered in, arms and knees pumping like pistons, to generate all of his old pace, and the wily Walsh, who was playing his 100th Test. Ambrose set off the alarm bells with his customary despatch of Atherton, beaten for speed and lbw on the back foot. The only meaningful resistance after that was again provided by Ramprakash, who spent nearly two hours over his 34 before he attracted a wicked leg-cutter off the sixth ball of Walsh's second spell. - TONY COZIER.

Man of the Match: S. Chanderpaul.

Close of play: First day, West Indies 271-3 ( S. Chanderpaul 100*, C. L. Hooper 36*); Second day, England 87-6 ( M. R. Ramprakash 13*, R. D. B. Croft 5*); Third day, West Indies 127-9 ( I. R. Bishop 2*).

© John Wisden & Co