England XI v West Indies A, Chedwin Park, Kingston, Jamaica

Reports from the Gleaner

22, 23, 24, 25 January 1998

Preview: England prepare for WI A

Tony Becca , Senior Sport Editor

CRICKET: The touring England cricketers continue their preparation for the first Test against the West Indies with a four day match against the West Indies A team at Chedwin Park starting at 10:00 this morning.

Fresh from their emphatic victory over Jamaica at Jarrett Park in the opening match of the tour, the tourists are tipped to tick off another victory before moving on to Sabina Park and the West Indies.

Victory however, is secondary to Mike Atherton who is hoping to lead England to their first victory over the West Indies in the West Indies since their 1-0 triumph in 1968.

After the disappointing pitch at Jarrett Park - a pitch so bad that after winning the option of batting a second time and handing their batsmen the opportunity of more match practice they refused to do so and enforced the follow on, the tourists are more interested in fine tuning themselves for the opening match of the five-Test series.

England's wish therefore, is for a good pitch with an even bounce and unlike the Jamaica match which ended well inside three days, for a good contest from the West Indies hopefuls.

With only this match to go before the start of the first Test next Thursday, England, as they did against Jamaica, are likely to parade the players expected to be in the Test line up.

There could be a few changes however, for while all the batsmen are expected to be given another opportunity to find their timing - to adjust to the pace and bounce of West Indian pitches, it is possible that fast bowler Dean Headley and left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell, who both bowled so well against Jamaica, may be rested for the Test match.

If that is the case, pacer Ashley Cowan and offspinner Robert Croft may make their first appearance in the Caribbean.

The players likely to represent the tourists on what should be a good pitch and what is usually a good outfield are Michael Atherton - captain, Alec Stewart, John Crawley, Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe, Adam Hollioake, Jack Russell, Andy Caddick, Ashley Cowan, Angus Fraser and Robert Croft.

Unlike England, the West Indies A team is not preparing itself for anything as important as a Test match.

As a team however, after losing all three ``Tests'' in South Africa recently, it has a point to prove; and as individuals, there are players who need to put their best foot forward - some if they are to remain the next in line in the eyes of the selectors, one if he hopes to be considered some time during the Test series, and one if he hopes to crash the party and get into the team for the opening Test match.

For batsman Leon Garrick, it is a chance, after his disappointing performance in South Africa, to prove he is worthy of his high rating; for batsman Wavell Hinds, after his one successful appearance for Jamaica and after a couple of good performances in South Africa, it is an opportunity to convince the selectors that he is good enough; for discarded Test batsman Floyd Reifer, it is a chance to remind the selectors of his quality; for allrounder Laurie Williams, it is an opportunity to play himself into serious contention for the one day internationals against England later on, and for Reon King and Pedro Collins it is a chance to make a statement on behalf of the young breed of fast bowlers.

The ones who really need to come good however, are right-arm legspinner Rawl Lewis and fast bowler Nixon McLean.

It is too late for the first Test, but a good performance over the next four days by Lewis could force the selectors to look his way for the second Test at Queen's Park Oval.

For McLean, who is in the Windies 13-man squad, this could decide whether he is in or out of the final eleven. Right now he appears to be sixth of the six fast bowlers in the squad. A brilliant performance against Atherton and company however, could catapult him into the first four.

The team: Roland Holder - captain, Leon Garrick, Wavell Hinds, Keith Semple, Floyd Reifer, Laurie Williams, Ricky Hoyte, Rawl Lewis, Nixon McLean, Reon King, Pedro Collins.

Day 1: Hussain whips Windies A

Tony Becca, Senior Sport Editor

CRICKET: It was cricket, lovely cricket at Chedwin Park yesterday as the England cricketers, thanks to a solid fourth-wicket partnership of 184 between Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain, recovered from a poor start to win the honours on the opening day of their tour match against the West Indies A team.

The tourists were on the run at 30 for three before settling in nicely and cruising to 293 for four at stumps with Hussain on 131 and Adam Hollioake on 33.

After winning the toss and sending the tourists to bat, the West Indian hopefuls threatened to blow the England batsmen away as Nixon McLean and Reon King produced some blistering fast bowling for 11 overs in the first hour.

After a quiet start in which England scored 12 runs in 30 minutes off five overs against some hostile bowling, Alec Stewart drove King so sweetly to the extra-cover boundary that a fan to the left of the Press Box shouted ``shot man!''. And when, in the following over, captain Mike Atherton stroked McLean to the cover boundary, the batsmen, after the terror pitch of Jarrett Park, appeared set to enjoy themselves.

Suddenly however, they were on the backfoot, and it was King the one who got the ball to cut both ways off the seam - who struck first and twice in one over.

King bowled Stewart middle and leg stumps for 12 at 24 off the inside edge as he went for a drive through the offside.

Two deliveries later, and without addition to the score, John Crawley was on his way back for zero - driving at one which left him and edging a catch to Keith Semple at first slip.

The score should have been 29 for three when Hussain, on five, cut at McLean and Floyd Reifer dropped the catch at second slip and left the field with a damaged hand.

One run later, McLean got his reward when Atherton, on eight, drove once too often and edged to second slip where substitute Kerron Baker held the catch.

With England on the run , Thorpe joined Hussain and they gave notice to the West Indies of what they can expect when the battle is on .

The batsmen defended for a couple of overs, saw off McLean and King, started to take control against left-arm pacer Pedro Collins and medium-pacer Laurie Williams, and went to lunch at 68 for three off 26 overs - minutes after the left-hander had signalled that he was ready when he clipped Collins to backward square-leg and then hooked for four.

From there on, it was all Thorpe and Hussain before, with 16 overs to go to the end of the day's play, Thorpe hit at Lewis, skied a catch to McLean at mid on, and left for 81 at 214 for four after facing 186 deliveries. They never destroyed the bowling, but they gave the bowlers no chance whatsoever.

In ticking off a well deserved century, Hussain batted well while stroking 18 boundaries in a stay which has so far lasted for 261 deliveries. Thorpe however, was the pick of the pair.

In a performance studded with 10 well timed boundaries, Thorpe's strokeplay off both the front foot and the back foot, through the offside and through the onside, was impressive - so much so that the Windies bowlers may find it difficult to decide where to bowl at him.

Day 4: King's burst rocks tourists

Tony Becca, Senior Sport Editor

CRICKET: The four day tour match between the England cricketers and the West Indies A team ended, as expected, in a tame draw at Chedwin Park yesterday.

What was not expected, certainly not on a pitch which remained a batting paradise, was the quality of the West Indian bowling and fielding for 50 minutes before tea - a quality which gave the England batsmen some anxious moments and threatened to embarrass them in the final match before Thursday's first Test against the West Indies.

Final score: England X1 400 for eight declared and 181 for four when played was called off with 14 overs overs to go, West Indies A 434.

Trailing by 34 runs after removing the last three West Indies A first innings wickets for 23 runs 45 minutes after the start of play, the tourists started their second innings confidently with captain Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart stroking the ball easily on both sides of the pitch and ticking off 44 runs in 10 overs.

At that stage, they appeared set to bat out the day without any alarm, and even when Stewart drove a half volley from left-hander Pedro Collins to Rawl Lewis at short-extra-cover and departed for 21 at 44 for one, there was no hint of the anxiety to come - not with Atherton and John Crawley driving and hooking at will as the tourists hopped to 103 for one.

With Reon King coming back and working up a good pace however, Atherton, who had hooked Nixon McLean for a huge six in the third over of the innings, hooked at the lanky pacer, was beaten by the speed of the delivery, and wicketkeeper Ricky Hoyte ran to hs left for the catch.

That was 103 for two with Atherton gone for 49, and when King removed Nasser Hussain for three at 116 for three - the batsman on the backfoot and edging a nasty lifter to Hoyte, and Crawley for 41 at 121 for four - brilliantly caught by a diving Laurie Williams at square-leg - the bells were ringing in the England dressing room even though, with a lead of 87 runs, with five wickets in hand not counting the injured Adam Hollioake, and less than three hours to go the odds were still in favour of a draw.

King, with figures of three wickets for six runs in his 24 deliveries, was bowling well however, the West Indians were inspired, and with Leon Garrick at forward short-leg diving forward and just failing to take the catch when left-hander Jack Russell, on five at 130 for four, defended against a bouncing legspinner from Lewis, and Keith Semple diving forward and failing to come up with the ball when the left-handed Graham Thorpe, on 16 at 143 for four, edged Lewis in the following over, the English fans around the ground were not their usually confident self.

The tourists survived to tea without further loss however, and apart from one or two deliveries from McLean which beat Thorpe for pace, and a few testing overs from Lewis who spun the ball appreciably, the West Indies A bowlers hardly beat the bat after the interval as Thorpe, 36, and Russell, 18, batted solidly to the end.

The closest the West Indies came to breaking the partnership which added 60 runs in 28 overs was in the day's final over when Russell drove at Williams and Garrick at extra-cover failed to hold on to the catch.

Earlier in the day, Williams resuming on 50 was left undefeated on 67 as Angus Fraser and Phil Tufnell wrapped up the tail to finish with figures of five for 99 off 38 overs and four 107 off 52.5 respectively.

Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 18:29