Tour diary: Fairy-tale stuff at Sabina Park

Alistair Campbell

March 28, 2000

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Today belonged to Courtney Walsh and to the West Indies. Courtney Walsh became the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, surpassing the mark of 434 set by India's Kapil Dev. It was fairy-tale stuff at Sabina Park as Courtney Walsh ran in, one wicket to break the world record, and one Zimbabwean wicket to get. His home crowd of 10,000 people roared expectantly, and one could not help but feel that this was meant to be. Henry Olonga was caught at short leg and the crowd went wild as did the West Indian players. History had been made. In true West Indian fashion it was celebrated, and after the day's play there was much pomp and ceremony.

No such celebration for us though, as we have managed again to relinquish a very good position. Day 3 started with us very buoyant and focused. We held the advantage and wanted to drive it home. Things were going swimmingly with the West Indies reduced to 171-7, due again to some very disciplined and very good bowling. We looked like taking a sizeable first innings lead - a must as the pitch was starting to deteriorate. there was lots of wear and the cracks were starting to open; they would play a major part later in the game.

However, what transpired was not according to plan as Jimmy Adams, showing stubborn defence punctuated with the odd aggressive drive and cut, and Franklin Rose, who played and missed 2 out of 3 balls early on and then had a swish which invariably went for 4, whittled away at our first innings 308. In three hours they had changed the course of the Test match, as well as set a new West Indies 8th-wicket batting record.

Starting day 4 we were still in the game but not in control as we would have liked to have been. We got together and agreed that, if we could bowl them out relatively quickly, we were still in with a shout of winning, as the pitch would be a nightmare on the last day and anything above 200 would be a stern test. We did knock them over only 31 runs ahead only after Jimmy Adams had completed a very patient but very gutsy and important hundred.

We needed a good batting performance as the pitch was playing unevenly; add to this Ambrose and Walsh and Co. and it was going to be tough. Tough was an understatement. We capitulated to 100 all out. Yours truly and Johnson managed to get into the 20s, but we both got balls that kept very low, as did Andy Flower. It was a difficult wicket, but with better application and better shot selection we should have done better. The West Indies were 8 for no wicket at the close -- but not without incident, as Johnson beat the outside edge of Campbell's bat and hit him on the gloves twice from a good length. We are probably 50 runs shy of what would have been a very testing target for them, but cricket is a funny game and who knows what tomorrow holds?

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