Fans have reason to rejoice

Tony Becca , Senior Sport

March 30, 1998

CRICKET: This is the second and final portion of a two part summary of the just concluded six-match Test series between the West Indies and England.

Philo Wallace and Clayton Lambert were like a breath of fresh air, their batting was explosive, the fans, including the English, loved it, and England hated it.

The England bowlers did not how or what to bowl at them neither did the England captain know how to set the field to them.

What however, was really impressive about their batting was that although he hit the ball in the air, Wallace did not swipe, and when it was necessary, Lambert took it easy.

Wallace batted well, his defence was tight, when he decided to hit the ball, he hit it hard and sometimes high and far, and on those occasions when Wallace got out before him, Lambert did not continue head-long in attack and gave his wicket away.

Realising, as neither Campbell nor Williams apparently did, that when you lose a wicket you should try to ensure that the opposition did not get another quickly, Lambert sensibly eased off the attack until things settled again.

The find of the series however, was right-arm legspinner Ramnarine, and it was good to see him in the thick of things on Tuesday afternoon as the curtain came down on the series in a brilliance which was so dazzling that many forgot the embarrassment when it was rolled up almost two months before and exposed the now infamous Sabina Park pitch.

The runout was a blessing from heaven.

What followed however, what destroyed England, and apart from limiting him to seven runs between the runout of Nasser Hussain at 295 for four and the end of the innings, what pinned Graham Thorpe at one end and prevented him from rescuing his colleagues who were like lambs to the slaughter was not only the pace and quality of Walsh's bowling, but the aggression and the accurate, spinning deliveries of Ramnarine as Lara, the moment he smelled the sweet scent of victory, moved in for the kill.

One of the memories of the last Test match, one of the memories from the greatest memory of all, is the sight, not only of a spin bowler, but also that of a right-arm leg spin bowler hunting victory for the West Indies.

Normally at that stage of a match like that, it is Ambrose and Walsh, or some other fast bowler. On Tuesday afternoon, it was Walsh and Ramnarine - Walsh with four slips and a gully, forward short-leg and backward short-leg, and Ramnarine with a slip, two silly silly points, silly mid-off forward short-leg and leg slip.

The series victory is nothing to stout about, but certainly towards the end in Georgetown and in St. John's there was the old glint in the eyes of many of the West Indies players, Wallace and Lambert brought back a confidence, a dominance in West Indies batting which has been lacking for some time, and Ramnarine, who is a brilliant catcher close to the wicket, has given his aggressive captain and the selectors an offer which they should not refuse.

The offer is this: pick Ambrose, pick Walsh, pick me and then look for another pacer.

Maybe the wind of change in West Indies cricket has finally arrived.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 30 Mar1998 - 19:41