Fourth Cornhill Test


David Norrie

Toss: West Indies.

Victory gave the West Indians the series 3-0, the fourth time in a row they had either won or regained the Wisden Trophy at Headingley. Yet just before tea on the Monday, England had visions of their first home victory over West Indies for nineteen years; the tourists' first innings lead had been wiped out, with Curtis the only casualty, and Gooch was threatening at the half-century mark. But it was an apparition, just like Macbeth's dagger, provoked by a guilty conscience for the performance to come. When England went to grab their chance, it evaporated as quickly as it had appeared; maybe it never really existed. Less than two hours later, England's last nine wickets had departed for 58 runs, making the West Indians' win a formality.

England came to Headingley with four survivors from the original Old Trafford thirteen - Gooch, Gower, Lamb and Dilley. Athey, Richards and Pringle were recalled, Foster was fit at last, and Curtis and Robin Smith were given their first taste of Test Cricket. Cowdrey had already been appointed England's third captain of the series. The selectors had met several times after the heavy Manchester defeat to discuss the captaincy; twice they had delayed their decision. In the end, Emburey was not reappointed and Cowdrey, who had taken Kent to the top of the Championship table, was given the job for the two remaining West Indies Tests. "We believe Cowdrey's style of leadership is what is now required", claimed England's chairman of selectors P.B.H.May, who is also Cowdrey's godfather. But England's captaincy shuffle was too much for the gateman at Headingley. He did not recognize the new skipper and refused him entry to the car park on Wednesday.

Cowdrey's five previous Tests, on Gower's tour on India in 1984-85, had brought him 96 runs and four wickets. Colin and Chris Cowdrey became the second father-son combination to lead England, after F. T. and F. G. Mann. Ironically, the last time England had used three captains in a series, against West Indies in 1966, Cowdrey senior took over from M. J. K. Smith before being replaced by D. B. Close. News of Cowdrey's appointment came four hours after Gatting had notified the selectors of his indefinite withdrawal from Test cricket. Gatting, who the day before had been referred to the full disciplinary committee of the TCCB over publication of his autobiography, Leading From the Front, insisted that he was not in the right frame of mind to play in a Test, match against West Indies.

The touring team had more traditional worries, with Greenidge and Richardson, their openers in the Third Test, both ruled out because of injury. But Haynes was fit again and Dujon was promoted to join him, with Arthurton making his Test début. England, as expected, made Childs twelfth man. The first day was dominated not by West Indies' bowlers, or even the notorious Headingley pitch, but by the Headingley drains. Play, having started 50 minutes late, was halted after two overs, this time for two hours, when the bowler's run-up at the Rugby Club End was found to be flooded. Umpire Bird had always had a keen eye for dangerous elements above, but this attack from below caught him unawares. The drains had been blocked before the Test to try to retain moisture in the square. But the Yorkshire club insisted that all drains were functioning properly by the start of the match and put the cause of the trouble on the volume of overnight rain.

West Indies had won the toss, and their reluctance to ignore this inconvenience and get at England's new batting line-up was curious, especially when the home side were later reduced to 80 for four. Marshall gave Gooch no chance, while Benjamin ended Curtis's dogged 94-minute stay and spoilt Gower's 100th Test match. But the arrival of Robin Smith to join Lamb brightened England's day. By Friday morning, West Indies were showing signs of apprehension for the first time in the series; even Marshall was reduced to using the weapon of more mortal fast bowlers when frustrated--the short-pitched delivery. Tragically for England, though, Lamb tore the calf muscle in his right leg, the mood and moment were lost, and they were back on the defensive. Lamb limped off just before noon with England 183 for four; 47 minutes and 58 balls later, they had been dismissed for 201, the last-wicket pair, Foster and Dilley, having added 16 of those last 18 runs. England's new captain lasted twelve balls and neither he, Richards for Pringle, now batting at No. 9 after going in at No. 6 in the first two Tests, looked like delaying the West Indian bowlers for long.

West Indies' batsmen had a tough time, though, and finished the day at 156 for five, Haynes having taken 40 overs for his 54. Foster made a good return to claim the wickets of Hooper and Richards, the latter brilliantly caught by Curtis, diving to intercept a certain boundary at square leg. By Saturday night, West Indies had reached 238 for eight after rain had restricted play to 23.4 overs. Pringle was the only participant to make much of the third day, taking all three wickets for 20 in six overs, but England's three missed slip chances were to prove especially expensive and frustrating. Yorkshire had hoped for better weather; Headingley loses its automatic right to a Test match in 1990. Gate receipts and attendances were down, its pitch--and now its drains--had gained something of a dubious reputation over the years, and, once again, the West Indian players were the subject of racial abuse from the Yorkshire crowd. Richards, not for the first time, was the target in an incident described by Mr Hendriks, the team's manager, as unfortunate and most distasteful.

West Indies were all out for 275 at middy on Monday, their total boosted by a stubborn knock of two and three quarter hours form Harper. Pringle finished with his best Test figures, five for 95, and if England had let the tourists off by dropping catches, they were back in the game after making up the deficit with one wicket down. But then Gooch chased a wide delivery form Walsh, Gower added only the 2 runs he needed for his 7,000 in Tests before flicking Marshall down the leg side to Dujon, and Walsh produced a beauty to dismiss A they; 80 for one had become 85 for four and England were finished. Only a heroic knock from Lamb, batting at No. 8, took the match into the last day. Richards, Cowdrey and Pringle all failed again; their six innings produced only 18 runs. Dujon and Haynes had no trouble scoring the 65 runs needed for victory and the match was over inside eight overs on Tuesday morning. England's humiliation was complete. Had it not been for the rain and drain, this Test match would not have lasted beyond tea on Saturday.

Man of the Match: C. E. L. Ambrose. Attendance: 44,350; receipts £400,014.

Close of play: First day, England 137-4 ( A. J. Lamb 45*, R. A. Smith 23*); Second day, West Indies 156-5 ( K. L. T. Arthurton 1*, R. A. Harper 0*); Third day, West Indies 238-8 ( R. A. Harper 31*, W. K. M. Benjamin 7*); Fourth day, West Indies 27-0 ( D. L. Haynes 10*, P. J. L. Dujon 17*).

© John Wisden & Co