Licks galore from Lambert and Lara


April 9, 1998

CLAYTON Lambert, even with white cloth flapping underneath his maroon cap, may not quite have looked the sheik.

But on the bone-dry Queen's Park Oval yesterday, under the blazing morning sun, he surely was a royal executioner.

With a sabre-like willow, the left-handed ``hit-man'' cut Adam Hollioake's England to pieces, leaving them for dead with his first One-day international century for West Indies (119) long before debutant Neil McGarrell ran out Angus Fraser to officially seal victory by 57 runs.

It was a kind of ``desert delight''-dessert for the 25,000 on hand.

The well-paced hundred from Man-of-the-Match Lambert and the fine ``supporting'' hand (93 off 107 balls) played by captain Brian Lara had just about slaked the thirst of an ecstatic audience.

But the equally sharp afternoon field campaign that clinched the series 4-1 would have satisfied them just as much.

After five gruelling Tests and five more draining ODIs, Hollioake and company came to know what helplessness is, to know the meaning of ``lambs for the slaughter''.

And ``slaughter'' aptly describes the morning fare.

West Indies had rattled up 302 for five in their 50 overs after Lara won the toss and chose to bat. The feast, the ``run-o-rama'', began with a rampant Lambert (17 fours, two sixes) playing shots all around the wicket.

Along with a measured Lara (ten fours), he added a record-breaking third wicket partnership of 185, now the highest One-day WI stand for any wicket.

It was 30.5 overs of pure pleasure for the audience...and pain for the English.

When medium pacer Dougie Brown deflected a Lambert drive onto stranded Philo Wallace's stumps in the second over, Hollioake may have thought his luck was in.

But he was soon forced into a rethink.

The 54-run partnership in 12 overs between Lambert and Stuart Williams (27) was brisk. But business-like brisk became belligerently bold by the 37th over.

Skipper Hollioake, bringing himself on, was attacked mercilessly.

Hitting straight, flicking fine, flaying fiercely, Lambert and Lara took 17 off his first over. And after two, the damage was 33.

The skipper was quickly off, but the festive crowd was fully turned on-especially by the mighty Lambert blow that sent a Mark Ealham delivery sailing over the long-on fence.

By that time, ``Crashing Clayton'' had already had his magic moment, a single off Ealham bringing up the ton.

And when he edged Ben Hollioake into wicketkeeper Alec Stewart's gloves, the 36-year-old's triumphant return to international cricket had been completed.

The crowd was also preparing to put their hands and voices together for a Lara century. Almost the silent partner, he was progressing to his third ODI hundred at home when he missed a pull off Brown and was bowled.

It was a moment that soured the faithful. Temporarily.

Carl Hooper's 20-ball 35 again raised spirits and the score beyond 300.

And the fete continued after lunch when ``rifle''McGarrell ran out dangerous Nick Knight (65), Ben Hollioake and finally Fraser with his bullet-straight direct hits.

The first two strikes undermined English hopes of a successful run chase. And in between, the efficient bowling and two wickets by another newboy, Carl Tuckett, made victory almost certain.

By the 46th over, the hordes were waiting to start the invasion. So Mervyn Dillon returned to bowl to Fraser on a free-spirited 30. By the third ball, he was gone. The slaughter was complete. The invasion was on.

Sober Hollioake was left to mull over a campaign lost. But for smiling Lara, for happy West Indians, there was a satisfying season to savour.

Source: The Express (Trinidad)

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 09 Apr1998 - 22:36