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Match reports


Toss: West Indies

Toss: West Indies.

Test debut: S. C. Williams.

A contest which scarcely progressed beyond its first innings, tied at 593 runs each, nevertheless earned an eternal place in cricket history by dint of an innings of 375 by Brian Lara, beating by ten runs the record individual score in Test cricket, created 36 years earlier by Sir Garfield Sobers. Lara broke the record from the 530th ball he faced, having batted for the equivalent of more than two days. He had not given a single chance and, until tension and fatigue almost overcame him in the home straight, scarcely made a mistake. Sobers himself came onto the field to shake Lara's hand in the chaotic moments which followed an exultantly pulled four from a short ball by Lewis. It was only Lara's third Test century but the previous two had been 277 and 167, confirming his appetite for the long innings. After the 277 he said he had been thinking of the record. Having achieved it this time, Lara went to Trinidad for a triumphal homecoming before leaving to play county cricket for Warwickshire.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the innings was that it was born out of the adversity of 12 for two, West Indies' makeshift opening pair having lasted barely half an hour on the first morning. Another was that the record, or at least a threat to the old record, looked inevitable by the time Lara had made 50, such was his obvious determination and his absolute mastery of England's bowlers on an utterly inoffensive pitch, only partially offset by a turgidly slow outfield which turned many fours into twos.
With both Richardson, the captain, and his deputy Haynes injured, West Indies gave Stuart Williams his Test debut and recalled Simmons. They were led for the first time by Walsh, against an unchanged and newly confident England. The tourists' buoyancy lasted only as long as it took Lara to make 164 not out on the opening day. A third-wicket stand of 179 with Adams was followed by one of 183 for the fourth with Arthurton, whose contribution was only 47. The biggest stand, 219 with Chanderpaul, was also the longest, extending through four rain interruptions, none of which could disturb Lara, on the second afternoon, and into the momentous third morning, which Lara commenced on 320.
Until this point, Lara had never looked likely to get out but, as the remaining milestones to the record were ticked off and the enormity of it all combined with his natural weariness, he needed shepherding through the final stages by the impressively mature Chanderpaul. He reached 365, the famed Sobers figure, with a cover-driven four off Caddick which had the capacity crowd on its feet, then composed himself once again for the historic pull off Lewis and the inevitable pitch invasion ensued. When Lara fell to a tired drive, with the declaration due, he had batted 766 minutes, faced 538 balls and hit 45 fours. Chanderpaul scored an unbeaten 75, his fourth half-century in his first four Tests, and all England could aspire to was the not inconsiderable task of batting out time.
This they achieved in some comfort, Atherton batting with great authority after being dropped on 46 and Smith profiting from two dismissals off no-balls from Walsh to make an overdue century. Eventually, Smith was treating the bowling with such disdain that the new record did not look entirely safe. But he was still 200 short when the stand of 303, a third-wicket record for England against West Indies, was ended. It was the first time since 1976 at Headingley that two England batsmen had made centuries in the same Test innings against West Indies, and Atherton's 135 in 535 minutes meant that he had batted for more than 28 hours in the series. The performance of Atherton and Smith also guaranteed only the fourth draw in the last 29 Tests between these teams. Once Russell and Lewis had added half-centuries and the scores had finished uncannily level on first innings, only 34 overs remained. Of these, 24 were played out to end a game of total stalemate but glittering memories.
Man of the Match: B. C. Lara.

Man of the Series: C. E. L. Ambrose
Close of play: First day, West Indies 274-3 (B. C. Lara 164*, K. L. T. Arthurton 25*); Second day, West Indies 502-4 (B. C. Lara 320*, S. Chanderpaul 41*); Third day, England 185-2 (M. A. Atherton 63*, R. A. Smith 68*); Fourth day, England 442-6 (R. C. Russell 18*, C. C. Lewis 12*).