Tony Becca , Senior Sport Editor
CRICKET: Bridgetown: The England cricketers shrugged off a day and a half of chasing the ball for 130 overs in the hot aribbean sun yesterday and reeled off some crisp, confident strokes to reach 178 for two in reply to Barbados' imposing 472 for six declared at stumps on the second day of the tour match at ensington Oval.
Alec Stewart cracked a boundary studded 52 before he was cut down at 117 for one, fellow opener Mark Butcher went just before the close for 79 at 168 for two, and captain Nasser Hussain and Graham Thorpe were undefeated on 24 and three respectively.
Resuming on 328 for four with Roland Holder on 115 and Ricky Hoyte on 19, the batsmen of Barbados continued their dominance over the England bowlers on a pitch which; like Chedwin Park and unlike Sabina Park, Queen's Park Oval and Bourda, is a batsman's dream.
Holder, a bit off colour in comparison to his dazzling display while stepping to his 15th first class century on the previous afternoon, and Hoyte, in an improved performance during which he struck eight boundaries while scoring 64, picked up where they left off and carried their overnight partnership of 71 to 144 before Holder, after batting for a total of 348 minutes, facing 238 deliveries, and stroking 24 boundaries, was runout for 158 at 401 for five seven minutes before lunch.
In contrast to the previous afternoon when he timed the ball perfectly and when almost every attacking stroke found the gaps, Holder had difficulty beating the field yesterday.
The left-handed Hoyte timed the ball so well however, and was on the attack so often that the crowd was treated to another fine batting display by the Bajans. Hoyte drove with relish, off the backfoot and the off the front, and after chipping and driving offspinner Robert Croft high to the long-off boundary and then going back and driving through extra cover, appeared on the way to his maiden first class century when he drove pacer Andy Caddick to Ashley Cowan at short extra-cover and went his way at 427 for six.
With the England bowlers aching in the legs and the shoulder, Terry Rollock - 28 with one six and two fours, and Otis Gibson 24 with two sixes and two fours - blasted them in an unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 45 before captain Philo Wallace called the declaration 55 minutes before tea.
Contrary to expectations, the England opening batsmen showed no effects of their toil in the sun - certainly not Stewart who enjoyed himself before he edged left-arm pacer Pedro Collins to Holder at second slip after batting for only 68 deliveries and striking 11 boundaries.
On a pitch for which he has fond memories following his match winning 118 and 143 in the forth Test of 1994, Stewart hit the fast bowlers wherever he wanted to, whenever he wanted to, and off the front-foot and off the back-foot.
It was so easy that on one occasion, after smashing pacer Otis Gibson all around the ground, he simply pulled up his left knee, whipped a short delivery from pacer Marlon Blagrove arrogantly to the square-leg boundary and then drove the following delivery straight past the stumps.
Butcher, after a quiet start, joined in the fun when he pulled Gibson to the midwicket boundary, followed it with a drive through extra-cover, and then went to town against Collins with three boundaries in one over - one to extra-cover, one to backward point, and one to cover.
With only four overs to go, the left-hander, who survived a difficult return catch to leftarm spinner Winston Reid at 66, went back to a well pitched delivery from right-arm legspinner Rollock and was plumb leg before wicket after batting for 192 minutes, facing 146 deliveries and hitting 11 boundaries
Day 3: Barbados lead touring team
CRICKET: Bridgetown: The touring England cricketers came up on the wrong side of the drawn match at Kensington Oval yesterday when they were led on first innings by home team Barbados.
Chasing Barbados' imposing first innings total of 472 for six declared and resuming the third and final day on 178 for two, the tourists, paced by good performances from Nasser Hussain (45) and Graham Thorpe (58), were going well on 351 for four with Mark Ramprakash and Adam Hollioake striking the ball nicely when out of the blue they collapsed and ended up trailing by 90 runs.
Final score: Barbados 472 and 52 for one with Philo Wallace and Adrian Griffith not out on 31 and two respectively, England 382.
In an amazing collapse on a perfect batting pitch, the tourists, on the eve of the fifth Test match, lost six wickets for 31 runs in 61 minutes in 17 overs on either side of tea as right-arm legspinner Terry Rollock, who finished with four for 56 off 23.3 overs, and left-arm spinner Winston Reid, who finished with three for 85 off 38.2, ran through the middle and lower order.
Up to then, with Ramprakash and Hollioake treating the bowling with scant respect after Hussain drove at pacer Marlon Blagrove and was caught at backward point by Adrian Griffith 228 for three, and left-hander Thorpe, who was dropped by Sherwin Campbell at slip of Reid at 44, and brilliantly caught down the legside by wicketkeeper Ricky Hoyte off pacer Otis Gibson at 286 for four, the England cricketers were well on the way.
In a beautiful display of power hitting after lunch, Hollioake hooked and drove left-arm pacer Pedro Collins and Blagrove with contempt, swept Reid for a four and a six off successive deliveries, and with Ramprakash reeling off two splendid square drives off Reid, it appeared as if the England batsmen were about to do onto the Barbadian bowlers what their batsmen did to their bowlers.
With his third delivery of the day however, Rollock tempted Ramprakash to pull at a short delivery pitched outside the offstump, the ball flew high to substitute Horace Waldron at mid-on, and England's star of their losing effort in the fourth Test was gone for 44 at 351 for five.
Six runs later, Hollioake, who slammed one six and six fours while facing 55 deliveries, went for Reid again, charged down the pitch and was stumped by Hoyte for 48 at 357 for six.
After that, Jack Russell, Andy Caddick, Ashley Cowan and Robert Croft were easy pickings for the pair of spin bowlers.
When Barbados began their second innings, the news of Campbell's omission from the West Indies squad and Wallace's inclusion was common knowledge.