Hoggard hat-trick triggers another rout

England 226 and 93 for 2 (Trescothick 42) beat West Indies 224 and 94 (Hoggard 4-35) by eight wickets

Once upon a time, Bridgetown was a fortress of West Indian cricket. But those days are long gone, and another abject batting performance by West Indies allowed England to wrap-up the series with a eight-wicket win and put them in line to complete a whitewash in Antigua.
For an hour today there was a contest, but Matthew Hoggard's remarkable mid-morning hat-trick ripped the guts out of the West Indies innings and they never recovered, eventually being bowled out for 94. England knocked off the runs for the loss of Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick, but there was never a sniff of an upset. The stuffing had been knocked out of West Indies in the first two Tests, and they had no stomach for a fight here.

England's fast bowlers relished the extra bounce at Kensington Oval as much as most of the batsmen made clear their distaste for it. Hoggard's heroics completed the set for the England quicks - all four have now had their headline-grabbing moments in this series. And it came at a crucial time. While Brian Lara remained there was hope for West Indies, and after weathering a tough first hour, he was slowly showing glimpses of form.

It was the mid-morning drinks interval which proved to be the watershed, and whatever it was Hoggard swigged, they should bottle it. Four balls after the resumption, Hoggard - in his eighth over of the session - lured Ramnaresh Sarwan into a drive outside off, and the resulting edge flew straight to Ashley Giles in the gully. Sarwan made 5 (45 for 3). With his next ball, Hoggard trapped Shivnarine Chanderpaul leg-before back in the crease with a ball which pitched middle-and-leg and would have hit middle (45 for 4). As the Barmy Army roared him in, Hoggard's hat-trick ball squared up Ryan Hinds and Andrew Flintoff took a low catch at second slip (45 for 5). It was the tenth hat-trick by an England bowler in a Test.

The massive English contingent exploded with delight and Hoggard was mobbed by his team-mates. Lara, though, slumped to the ground in disbelief, and high in the stands Viv Richards, the chairman of selectors, could barely conceal his fury. In three balls the match had been turned on its head.

Lara had battled through a tough first hour and despite losing Daren Ganga, West Indies appeared to have weathered the storm. True, Lara was set on survival rather than strokeplay, and his attacking instincts were further dulled by a painful blow on his elbow in the second over. Twice the physio was summoned, but a grimacing Lara stayed put and dug deep.

Ganga had already fallen to Hoggard for 11. Only opening because of Devon Smith's injury, Ganga looked all at sea, surviving two confident shouts for caught behind before he prodded at a widish one from Hoggard and Graham Thorpe, at second slip, held a routine catch to his right. (34 for 2).

After Hoggard's hat-trick, England exposed the tail shortly before rain brought an early lunch, when Flintoff removed Ridley Jacobs for 1. Although he has batted well in the series to date, Jacobs's weakness against the short ball aimed at the body has been noted by England. Spurred by a shout of "at his head" from the slips, Flintoff banged one in, and Jacobs's half-hearted jab lobbed out to Mark Butcher (48 for 6).

For an hour after lunch West Indies offered something resembling resistance, and briefly England's bowlers showed signs of frustration, as Lara and Tino Best added 32 for the seventh wicket with few alarms. But an interruption for rain allowed England to regroup, and with the first ball after the resumption Flintoff got one to lift at Best and the edge flew via the batsman's arm to Trescothick at first slip (80 for 7).

By this time Lara was an increasingly isolated figure, bruised, battered and out of sorts. He wasn't in form but he was fighting to the end. The problem was he was fast running out of company.

Pedro Collins's run-out - courtesy of a smart pick-up, dive and throw from Nasser Hussain - was the last straw. Lara's resolve finally snapped and he pulled Stephen Harmison to Vaughan at mid-on for 33. The packed stands gave him a generous ovation, but the weight of carrying such a brittle batting order seemed to have broken him. Harmison polished off the innings when Fidel Edwards looped an attempted pull to Hussain at short leg.

It was the lowest score by West Indies at Bridgetown, and their batting was again feeble. But England's three seamers - they didn't even have to call on Simon Jones today - bowled exactly to plan, using their height to extract bounce and rattle the batsmen. That's what always happened in Barbados, except it used to be the West Indies quicks who did the rattling. Those days are a distant memory.

The only real contest when England set off in pursuit of 93 to win was whether they could finish the job before the light or the rain closed in. Best snarled and peppered Trescothick and Vaughan with bouncers, but both coped and took the opportunity to play themselves into form. Vaughan accelerated as the clouds closed in, hammering a glorious six off Best, but he perished trying to drive Corey Collymore for a second successive four, edging to Jacobs for 32 (57 for 1).

As the crowd began to party, there were a few nervous moments, almost all coming about from frantic running by Trescothick and Butcher. As the chanting grew in volume and the England players prepared to run onto the pitch, Trescothick's pleasing cameo ended when he snicked Collymore to Jacobs for 42 (91 for 2). It briefly delayed the inevitable, and fittingly allowed Hussain, the veteran of three previous Caribbean hammerings, to be in the middle when the victory was completed.

The end came in the Bridgetown twilight. The fortress laid in ruins.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Wisden Cricinfo.