Third Test


Toss: West Indies.

The fourth day of this match witnessed an astonishing transformation: when it began England were enviably placed for a victory which would have kept the series alive; by the end they were threatened by their lowest score in history. Eventually, by a single run, they avoided the ultimate indignity of equalling the 45 all out recorded at Sydney, 107 years earlier, but the England side of 1887 actually won. The 1994 side lost both match and series during a staggering collapse to fast bowling of the highest calibre from Ambrose, who finished with six for 24 in the innings and 11 for 84 in the match.

West Indies, retaining the team that won in Georgetown, again won the toss and Richardson once more did the unexpected by choosing to bat first. The pitch looked mottled and rough and lived up to its reputation of being at its most mischievous on the first day but, thanks chiefly to a highly disciplined innings of 63 in 260 minutes from Richardson himself, West Indies reached 158 for one before six wickets fell for 54 during the evening session. England, whose only change had been to replace Igglesden with Caddick, removed both openers through the leg-spin of Salisbury, but Lewis, operating accurately from around the wicket, then dismissed three of the left-handers at little cost. The remaining West Indies wickets fell rapidly at the start of the second day, which ended with England only 16 runs behind, with five wickets standing. Atherton played another assiduous innings but batting conditions were still not easy; it was puzzling to see West Indies lapse into a period of lethargic, defensive cricket until they could take the new ball late in the day. An invaluable sixth-wicket stand of 82 between Thorpe and Russell was completed on the third morning before Ambrose broke through in a spell of three for 18 from 26 balls. Salisbury, however played with spirit to add 34 for the tenth wicket with Fraser: England's lead of 76 was their first first-innings advantage in the Caribbean since the corresponding Test of 1989-90.

Caddick now justified his inclusion with two important wickets as West Indies shakily wiped out the arrears. Richardson and Lara were both out to injudicious attacking strokes, Lara through a spectacular diving catch at mid-off by Salisbury, and Haynes was bowled by Lewis with the deficit still 25. Arthurton and Adams rebuilt carefully but their work was sacrificed in the closing overs; Arthurton was caught off a rash pull and Adams, unable to resist a high full toss from Salisbury, was unlucky enough to hit it directly into the forearm of Smith, at short leg, and see Russell catch the rebound. England spent the rest day contemplating victory. However, when they resumed, West Indies were blessed with two dropped catches by the usually reliable Hick, at slip. Chanderpaul was the man reprieved, when four and 29, and with forthright support from Winston Benjamin, he stretched the advantage against some stray and increasingly dispirited England bowling before giving Caddick his sixth wicket. Shortly afterwards West Indies were all out 193 ahead.

Thus England were facing a target at least 70 runs bigger than it should have been. Furthermore, a rain break meant that only 15 overs of the day remained. This was crucial, because Ambrose was able to give his all and England knew they would have to face him again next morning. He supplied one of the most devastating spells of even his career. Atherton, half forward, was leg-before to the first ball of the innings and Ramprakash, nervily calling a second run to long leg, run out off the fifth. Smith and Hick, confidence low, were swept aside and when Stewart, the one batsman to get a start, lost his off stump, it was 26 for five. Walsh, almost the Lock to Ambrose's Laker, took a wicket at last when Salisbury was caught at slip. But Ambrose, rampaging in as if on springs, added Russell and Thorpe to his collection before play ended with England a mortifying 40 for eight, all hope lost. The game lasted only 17 minutes on the final morning, Walsh claiming the last two wickets. As Ambrose was carried shoulder-high from the ground, the great calypsonian Lord Kitchener serenaded his success outside the dressing room. For England, a match which had promised much for three days had ended in utter humiliation.

Man of the Match: C. E. L. Ambrose.

Close of play: First day, West Indies 227-7 (J. R. Murray 22*, C. E. L. Ambrose 5*); Second day, England 236-5 (G. P. Thorpe 64*, R. C. Russell 17*); Third day, West Indies 143-5 (S. Chanderpaul 1*); Fourth day, England 40-8 (C. C. Lewis 1*).

© John Wisden & Co