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Windies Victorious With Just Two Pacers

by Haydn Gill/in ST.VINCENT

April 5, 1998

THIS WAS a victory with a major difference.

Choosing to abandon a long-established formula of success, the West Indies discovered a similarly effective method that was the key reason in comfortably winning the third Cable & Wireless One-Day International by five wickets against England here, yesterday.

For the first time since the shortened version of the game was introduced in the early 1970s, they went into a match with only two genuine fast bowlers.

There were some who expressed some apprehension about such a tactic, but the West Indies, their emphasis now clearly on developing a One-Day team with specialists, managed to restrict their previously free-scoring opponents to a relatively modest 209 for eight off the allotted 50 overs.

With half of the job completed and victory seemingly predictable, the colourful Arnos Vale ground then took on a carnival-like atmosphere.

Chickie's Hi-Fi, over from Antigua, provided Caribbean rhythms nearly all the way through the West Indies innings and there was even more continuous vocal accompaniment from conch-shells, drums, whistles and bugles as the West Indies achieved their target with a mainly disciplined approach.

Carl Hooper's measured half-century was the mainstay and there were also solid contributions from all but one batsman. In the end, the West Indies with 11 balls to spare to take a 2-1 series advantage ahead of today's fourth match.

It was the tight containing stuff of three spinners and the medium-pace of Phil Simmons that did the trick for the West Indies, their efforts complimented by a vastly improved fielding display that was no doubt inspired by Keith Arthurton.

Arthurton, on his first international appearance since his disastrous World Cup in 1996, was typically cat-like in the outfield and his high standards were matched by Philo Wallace, Stuart Williams and captain Brian Lara.

West Indies did not rely on fast bowling to the extent that neither of the two pacers completed his full quota of ten overs. Nixon McLean had seven overs in two spells at the beginning of the innings, while Curtly Ambrose, tight us usual, left the field after five overs with the new ball and never returned.

It meant that Simmons, Arthurton, Hooper and Rawl Lewis shared 38 overs in which England never ever really dominated. The tight nature of their work was reflected by the fact that only 99 runs were carved out in the second half of the innings and 48 from the last 10 overs.

Hooper, showing exceptional control in ten overs of off-spin that cost 30 runs, and Simmons applied so much pressure that all of England's wickets were a result of batsmen trying to force the pace on a pitch which played slower than expected.

Nick Knight, their impressive batsman on the Barbados leg, was gone even before the fast bowlers went off.

Advancing down to Ambrose, the ball spiralled high into the air and Wallace, having to run about 35 yards from mid-off, watched the ball all the way into his hands to complete a breathtaking catch.

The usually subdued Alec Stewart and Ben Hollioake added 58 for the second wicket in 12.3 overs but in trying to lift the tempo, both went in quick succession to Simmons.

Having allowed him to get away with the flattering figures of four overs for 13 runs, both were unsuccessful in their attempt to get after him.

Hollioake, whose 35 came of 42 balls, tried to clear the mid-wicket boundary, but found the cool Wallace waiting for a catch, while Stewart, who made 33 from 61 balls, turned Simmons down the throat of backward square-leg.

The dismissal of Mark Ramprakash, bowled trying to cut a ball that spun a long way from Hooper in the next over, was the third wicket that fell for the addition seven runs.

In the circumstances, Graeme Hick and captain Adam Hollioake were required to consolidate. They spent 18.5 overs in putting on 75, but England never had the chance to enjoy the traditional happy hour.

Hick had made 45 off 85 balls before Williams, stationed at long-on smartly moved to his left to hold on to a skier.

Even Mark Ealham and Matthew Fleming, effective power hitters in Barbados, could not play in their usual commanding style.

Clayton Lambert launched he West Indies' reply with a typically enterprising 24 off 22 balls before he carelessly chased one from the impeccable Angus Fraser and edged a catch to the 'keeper.

Lara hit the shot-of-the-match a pull off Mark Ealham that landed on the roof of the double-decker Frank Thomas Pavilion before the same bowler gained revenge by having the West Indies captain caught at mid-on from an indiscreet shot.

West Indies passed 100 with two wickets down, the innings built around the restraining Wallace and the consistent Hooper, whose 50 took 75 balls and included two fours and a six off Fraser.

Wallace had also clobbered Fraser for a leg-side six, but he had his stumps hit by Fleming.

Off-spinner Robert Croft gave away little and kept England in contention with ten successive overs which yielded 18 runs and the wicket of Williams, who clipped a catch to mid-wicket.

At that stage, West Indies were 125 for four in the 31st over, but Hopper, Arthurton and Simmons prevented a recurrence of last Wednesday's collapse.

Man-Of-The-Match Hooper spoilt it when he was run out after a mix-up with Arthurton when 38 were needed from eight overs. By then, the outcome was obvious.

Source: The Barbados Nation
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Date-stamped : 06 Apr1998 - 22:33