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Second test: West Indies v England, Queens' Park Oval, Trinidad

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph

5-9 February 1998

Day 1: West Indies lure England into familiar sad pattern

A FAMILIAR story played itself out on the lushest of green swards on the first day of the second Test at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad yesterday, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

Taking their time - only 53.1 overs were bowled before tea - the West Indies sucked England into a carefully planned trap, making them work immensely hard for their runs on the green, dry, slow, seaming pitch.

They attacked as soon as a chance came, like ants closing in when a crumb falls to earth. Despite three dropped catches behind the wicket and in the slips, they had England in trouble at 175 for eight when bad light stopped play, disgracefully a full 40 minutes late.

Nasser Hussain, the chief culprit in a run-out which should never have been given, batted staunchly for almost four hours to keep his side in the game and Dean Headley gave him stout support, surviving 17 overs before the new ball accounted for him.

A mixture of luck, grit and patience kept England's head above water until a bad error by the third umpire and a second-ball dismissal for Jack Russell made it plain where the day's honours would go.

Throughout, the going had been hard for England. Hussain, Alec Stewart, who stayed for nine minutes under three hours for 50, and John Crawley, whose 17 took almost 2.5 hours, must all have felt that they earned at least twice as many runs as they actually scored.

The slow outfield, with its broad-bladed grass, the lateral movement off the seam which made driving risky, the uneven bounce and the line of the West Indies bowlers, mainly off stump or outside it, made it virtually impossible for batsmen to dominate.

Graham Thorpe very briefly threatened to do so, but a poor stroke against Carl Hooper, executed at just the wrong moment in the last over before tea, underlined the West Indian control.

The pitch will get better before the bounce becomes even lower, so the outcome will be decided by the West Indian first innings. It is going to remain a game which proves the adage that all things come to those who wait.

That will be as true for bowlers as for batsmen. The West Indian fast bowlers bided their time, directed with a sure and imaginative touch by Brian Lara, their new captain.

Kenny Benjamin, whose 10-over spell of one wicket for 21 in the first 90 minutes after lunch was full of skilful variations, was the pick of the attack, but Curtly Ambrose, his line immaculate, recorded extraordinary figures to prove that he was far from finished.

The performance of most significance for the future, perhaps, was that of Nixon McLean, a tall, strong bowler with a hint of the young Wes Hall about both his action and his athletic aggression.

His first spell in Test cricket was genuinely fast and it unsettled Stewart and Mike Atherton after they had made a steady start against Ambrose and Courtney Walsh with the new ball.

Lara would certainly have put England in. It was a brave, borderline decision by Atherton to bat first when the liberally grassed pitch was at its freshest, but the key point was that it was dry. Perhaps, being an admirer of Mark Taylor, he asked himself what Australia's captain would have done.

Australian-style resilience is what Atherton craves and to some extent what England displayed in taking the points from the first full session of the series, just as they did four years ago in Kingston before a similar collapse.

To reach 70 for one at lunch they needed more good fortune than they had often had in recent times. Atherton kept Stewart company just into the second hour, but McLean's appearance in the 12th over hustled him into his only boundary, an involuntary inside edge, before, forward to a good-length ball which left him, he edged his old adversary Ambrose to first slip.

Crawley, apart from a running mix-up with Stewart, batted soundly either side of lunch, letting himself down only by getting into such an ultra-defensive frame of mind.

He escaped a hard leg-side chance to the wicketkeeper, hooking at Benjamin, before striking his only four next ball, a fierce square-cut.

Stewart was twice missed in the forties, by Lara at first slip and Hooper at second, off Walsh and Benjamin, but England's good fortune did not extend far beyond lunch.

Stewart, having reached 50 with seven fours, was lbw going back next ball to a Benjamin delivery, which nipped back and kept low. Nine overs later Crawley fell at third slip as Ambrose got extra bounce.

Thorpe had just picked up seven crisp on-side runs in an over off Ambrose when he greeted Hooper's token over before tea with an unworthy cut at a ball neither short enough nor wide enough.

David Williams took the edge and at the start of the final session added another much more controversial victim when he nudged the bails off for a run-out before the ball reached his gloves.

Hussain, square-cutting Adams hard to Chanderpaul at cover, made a foolish call for a single and Adam Hollioake was well beaten by the flat return to the top of the stumps. In his eagerness, however, Williams dislodged the bails with his fingertips before the ball arived and he broke the wicket.

Umpire Venkatarahgavan gave Hollioake out, then, as the batsman pointed out politely what had happened, asked for a replay, which was promptly and with far too little consideration misinterpreted by the third umpire, Clyde Cumberbatch. The referee, Barry Jarman, exonerated Hollioake for disputing the original decision.

Jarman tried, unconvincingly, to spare the blushes of Cumberbatch by saying that the initial replays were unclear and that Hollioake was back in the pavilion by the time that it became clear that he should not have been given out. Venkat should have made it clearer to him where the area of doubt lay.

The rapid fall of Russell and Andrew Caddick's dismissal to a ball which skidded through low, left no corresponding doubt about who was on top.

Day 2: Fraser's heroic show forces West Indies on to back foot

HEROIC is the only word for Angus Fraser's performance for England yesterday. Having batted for an hour and a half in the morning, he marked his overdue return to the Test team with figures of five for 47 in the heat and burden of the afternoon, including the key wickets of Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul in a burst of three wickets in 13 balls, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

Shortly before he walked off, bent like a giant bow with sheer exhaustion, he had turned a compellingly close match England's way. After the two left-handers had taken the West Indies to 126 for three in reply to England's painstaking 214, adding 78 with the freest batting of the match on a slow pitch becoming steadily a little more awkward, they had very nearly seized control when Chanderpaul, driving, edged a full-length ball to first slip.

Lara, playing brilliantly but increasingly streakily, then skied to mid-off from a leading edge and when Jimmy Adams padded up to a ball which came back, the game had turned, classically.

An enterprising stand between Curtly Ambrose, 6ft 8in, and David Williams, 5ft 4in, showed that the West Indies have no less will to win this toughest of dogfights. England missed two hard catches and a no less tricky stumping chance as these two put on 30 for the seventh wicket before Phil Tufnell had reward at last for a long and beautifully controlled spell of slow left-arm bowling from the Northern End.

When bad light brought another protracted day's play to an end an over early, the West Indies were only 37 behind with three wickets in hand.

The struggle between good English bowling on a pitch of increasingly uneven bounce and a great batsman newly elevated to the captaincy of the West Indies had made for the best cricket of the match so far, especially as its outcome seemed to hold the key to a contest which is being played in sweltering heat.

Fraser had already kept England in the match with two of the wickets which reduced the West Indies to 48 for three. That, however, was when the crucial phase began, eight overs before tea, as England attempted to dismiss Lara and Chanderpaul. They played a patient game at first, obliged to do so by Fraser's unyielding accuracy.

Much of England's good work was then undone in the early overs after tea when Andrew Caddick's apparent inability to stick to a plan cost 27 precious runs in three overs. Lara began by hooking short balls for two and four and though the two fours he added in the next over came in the air to the third man and backward point boundaries, he had won the first battle.

Caddick, who had gone on record that his plan was to bowl across the bows of Lara, was forced to try attacking him from round the wicket instead. But his inconsistent length was punished in turn by Chanderpaul and Mike Atherton, thankful that Tufnell was keeping control at one end, was obliged to turn back to Fraser. Nor did he fail him.

Dean Headley had made the first breakthrough for England after Sherwin Campbell and Stuart Williams had survived an awkward 20-minute session against the new ball before lunch. In the 11th over, after several reckless air shots, Campbell was deftly caught by Jack Russell off the inside edge off a ball from Fraser which bounced and cut back off the seam.

Williams might also have been caught behind by Russell seven overs later when his score was 13 but after a prolonged examination of TV replays the third umpire, Clyde Cumberbatch, obliged to make a testing adjudication for the second day running, decided correctly that even with the help of TWI's telescopic lens, there was sufficient doubt that the edge from Fraser had carried. An ICC ruling last summer, shortly after the disputed Nasser Hussain catch at slip off Greg Blewett, gave the match umpires the right to refer to the third umpire when they are not sure if a catch has been taken cleanly.

Fraser took Williams's wicket in his next over when he aimed a legside flick but got a leading edge to mid-off. He followed up by cutting another ball back off the seam to bowl Carl Hooper round his legs.

Thirty-seven overs remained to be bowled in the final session in a temperature pushing 100ÁF: some excuse perhaps for the sluggish over-rate of both sides. Mainly because of allowances made for drinks breaks, the fall of wickets and injured batsmen, the West Indies had officially only been one over slower than the rate required of them on the opening day.

England's bowlers did an excellent job, at least in their secondary role as auxiliary batsmen. On a pitch like this one, tail-end runs can decide a game either way and Caddick, Headley and Fraser each did a noble job before Tufnell rather let the union down by succumbing to the first ball he faced.

The three tall, fast bowlers actually batted longer the lower they were placed in the order. Caddick and Headley had lasted for 45 and 69 minutes respectively and yesterday Fraser, getting on with the job with the resigned air of a man baring his arm for a necessary injection, stuck it out for his country for 98 long and often painful minutes.

He was struck on the helmet by the first ball of the day from Kenny Benjamin, which flew to second slip like a football into the back of the net. His life after that was made relatively easy by Lara's decision to rest Benjamin after only three overs.

Throughout the innings he had looked the most likely man to take wickets - whatever the scorecard might say - and Lara's first serious tactical error as a Test captain was underlined when Benjamin returned to the attack half an hour before lunch and achieved in six balls what his colleagues had failed to manage in the previous 15 overs.

Fraser and the other tail-enders have each had a personal batting tutor during this tour. Fraser's mentor is his old friend Atherton, and the pupil had exceeded the master's runs by six when finally, after much pushing forward on to the front foot, in the hope of runs and certain expectation of bruises, he got the thinnest of outside edges to a ball lifting past his off-stump.

Benjamin then produced a length ball on Tufnell's off stump which was too good for him. He edged it to first slip, leaving Hussain undefeated after 5.25 hours of dedicated excellence.

He will have derived immense satisfaction from his first Test fifty in the Caribbean, having played three Tests here as a tyro, none four years ago and the brief nightmare at Sabina last week.

The running out of Adam Hollioake was the one blemish on an innings in which he saw the ball early and played it late; so late that sometimes he seemed to have been beaten by low bounce only for the bat to get there just in time.

Most of his runs yesterday came in singles behind the wicket or close in front on the off, but there was one hallmark drive through extra cover off Curtly Ambrose and a classical drive lifted back over Hooper's head to the sidescreen.

Hooper's appearance was for the batsmen like a brief cool breeze on a hot day. For most of his innings, Hussain had withstood an unrelenting examination of his technique. He passed with flying colours but it was far too early to know whether his 61 not out was going to be a contribution to victory or a gallant effort in defeat.

Day 3: Fraser gains upper hand in battle of the big men

By Scyld Berry

IT has been a contest of giants in Port of Spain. Two tall men have disputed control of the Trini- dad Test, and so far Angus Fraser has proved even more colossal than Curtly Ambrose. The best figures of Fraser's career, and the best by any England bowler against West Indies, gave England a first-innings lead when none had been expected after the West Indian fast bowlers had turned on the heat on the opening day. But it was precisely then that England's tail, including Fraser himself, wagged for a change in the company of Nasser Hussain to give England a total that proved workable for Fraser the bowler.

It was not the best bowling of Fraser's career: the man himself makes no claim to that. Only in statistical terms was it the best English performance since Devon Malcolm clicked at the Oval in 1994 and blasted out nine South Africans for 57 runs. But it may prove the most valuable and it undoubtedly made up for the innumerable times that Fraser has bowled immaculately, beaten the bat and not ended up with his due.

Particularly in county cricket over the last two years Fraser has laboured and, with both hands upon his hips at the end of his follow-through, suffered without reward. Often he has been too good for county bats to edge him, like Mike Hendrick in his day. Here Fraser kept to his basic premise - ``bowling straight, that's the secret'' - but he varied his length more, particularly yesterday morning when he picked up the last three West Indian wickets for only six more runs against his name.

Nothing could be done about the two years of exile through a hip injury which started at the end of 1990. But the two further years of exile since he last played at Cape Town in December 1995 might have been averted, if the England selectors - Raymond Illingworth especially when he was chairman - had interpreted his county figures differently and not experimented with the likes of Alan Mullally.

Only last summer there was a case, presented in these pages, for Fraser to play in the first four Tests against Australia, which were staged on pitches that started damp and occasionally sporting. All too frequently in recent series, most notably in Zimbabwe and in New Zealand last winter, England have bowled first and their seamers have grievously under-performed.

The warhorse may have lost a yard of pace since his hip injury, though the batsmen would not have thought that yesterday morning when a warm wind blew almost directly behind Fraser at Queen's Park Oval. Under-perform, or under-pitch; never.

He cleaned up Kenny Benjamin with the last ball of his first over, beating him for speed on the back foot. Nixon McLean kept Ambrose company until he belted a fuller ball straight at mid-off, before Ambrose scooped the lowest of full tosses back to the bowler with his leading edge.

These three wickets, however, were no more than nails. The coffin itself Fraser had constructed on the second afternoon, when Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul had threatened to run away with the advantage after tea. This was when Fraser was indispensable, when the two left-handers were scoring at a run a minute and would have taken West Indies into the lead if they had continued together until the close.

When Andy Caddick tried to contain the left-handers, not his favourite form of batsmen, his three overs cost 27 runs, an enormous cost in a low-scoring match. Dean Headley had already done his job tidily, aside from his no-balling. Phil Tufnell was installed at the Northern Range end. It was Fraser or no one to the rescue.

So well did the 32-year-old bones respond that Fraser produced a spell of seven overs - at the same cost as Caddick's three - and dismissed the three left-handers in the West Indian middle order. Lara and Chanderpaul tried to move to fourth gear on a pitch that requires cautious driving, while Jimmy Adams, in a defensive cast of mind, offered no stroke.

In Fraser's favour is the make of ball, which starts out with a thicker seam than balls in England. Balls have 15 strands per thread, as in England before 1990, but a bowler still has to keep that seam upright to make the ball move sideways. From the moment he bowled at the Queen's Park nets, Fraser has been darting the ball both ways.

Another record to his name now is that of being England's leading wicket-taker in the West Indies with 35, having overtaken Jim Laker's 32. Overall, he has a total of 127 Test wickets to add to in the second innings.

Snuffing out the West Indian tail so readily - they added no more than 14 to their overnight score - had an invigorating effect on England's opening batsmen, who purred along even more easily than Lara and Chanderpaul had done. Ambrose, after batting for more than two hours, did not open the bowling hostilities, and younger men were no substitute.

Had Stewart been keeping wicket, he surely would not have batted so fluently and patiently as he has done here. Jack Russell may have had a bad game to date, even allowing for the highly unpredictable bounce, but that is no justification for making Stewart keep wicket in the second of these back-to-back Tests which starts on Friday.

While this second Test has been a cracking match, the pitch for the third alongside has been cracking too in the extreme heat. The wear and tear inflicted by fielders has also scarred its surface, and Robert Croft would be desirable as a second spinner.

The crowd were conspicuously subdued as Atherton and Stewart turned England's lead of 23 into a three-figure one. Atherton had forced more than once to the deep square boundary by the time he went to hook Walsh and dragged on, but even then the crowd, the bowling and the pitch continued to slumber.

Stewart, against the new ball, equalled the fluency which Lara alone had hitherto accomplished. He was hit on his left elbow when he played forward to Walsh and the ball spat in rare aberration, but continued unflustered to his second fifty of the match.

Carl Hooper could not pitch his off breaks in the dangerous areas that Phil Tufnell will be able to do. Out of the darkness of 126 for six on the opening day has emerged the possibility of England's first series win abroad for 12 years against someone other than New Zealand.

Day 4: Fraser fire lights up England

IF England win the second Test, as they still should some time during the final act of a strenuous and unyielding contest today, they will have done so with only two effective bowlers, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

The excellence of their batting, especially in the second innings on Saturday, has been matched by fast-medium bowling in both innings by Angus Fraser which has approached perfection. He has been supported by long, controlled spells by Phil Tufnell, though most of his overs yesterday were negatively bowled over the wicket into the rough.

With 11 wickets in the match to date, Fraser has exceeded any of his past performances, but without him the West Indies would already have scored the 282 they needed to win when their second innings started before lunch on the fourth day. They hustled through England's last six wickets in an hour and half yesterday morning and at one stage were 120 for two before losing three wickets in four overs after tea. When bad light interrupted them they needed a further 101 to win, with five wickets in hand.

Stuart Williams, Carl Hooper and David Williams each played with skill and style. Hooper has shared fifty partnerships with two batsmen whose previous Test credentials were modest. Having kept wicket with real polish, Williams defied all that a tired attack could summon up in the final session yesterday.

The failure of Andrew Caddick and Dean Headley to find anything like the same degree of accuracy or penetration as Fraser on this slow but awkward pitch suggests that changes will be needed for the third Test here later in the week. For the moment England's problem is to finish the job against determined West Indies batting.

It is by no means certain that they will. Tension today will be all the greater for the players who experienced either or both of the previous England Tests at Port of Spain. Denied by Graham Gooch's broken hand and a sudden shower in 1990, and by Curtly Ambrose's great spell in 1994, England might not recover if the cup is dashed from their lips a third time.

Left with 282 to win, the fourth highest last-innings score in a Trinidad Test, West Indies reached 104 for two at tea and the importance of the wicket of Brian Lara, court behind for 17 nibbling at a good-length ball from Fraser began to diminish with every sweetly timed blow by Stuart Williams on his way to a fifty off 70 balls with 10 fours. Hooper, playing the ball late and with cool assurance, helped him to add 52 in 20 overs.

Fraser came to the rescue again when, six overs after tea, Williams was superbly caught by John Crawley at backward short leg from a firm leg-glance. On the last tour in Barbados Fraser had bowled nearly 30 overs on his way to eight first-innings wickets and the bite was no longer there in the second innings. This time his record eight for 53 had required only 16.1 overs, besides which he is a fitter man now, even at the age of 32.

It took time for Mike Atherton to discover that his most likely match-winning combination was Fraser and Tufnell, who flighted and probed from both sides of the stumps before finally he took the important wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who lobbed a catch off a leading edge as he tried to turn a ball to leg with the spin.

Neither Headley nor Caddick could find rhythm or accuracy; both perhaps reacting to the pressure of knowing that this was a match England now had no right to let slip. Caddick hit Lara one painful blow in the box, but they both failed to bowl with anything like the menace worked up by Ambrose and Courtney Walsh as they seized England's last six wickets for 40 in the morning.

Headley did dismiss Sherwin Campbell in only the third over when he edged an outswinger of full length, Alec Stewart holding on to a good catch at second slip, but Williams thereafter took full and brilliant toll of far too many long-hops. His 62 was an outstanding innings in difficult conditions, but he was always playing against the odds.

The loss of their last six wickets in the first 1hr 20min was not for England the catastrophe it might have been in other circumstances. The top five - and Adam Hollioake too during his half-hour in the middle in fading light on Saturday - had made a cushion, each of them playing exceptionally well. Although the lateral movement became less over the weekend, the vertical bounce was increasingly unpredictable.

Ambrose made nonsense of the theory that he would no longer be a danger as a Test bowler by taking five for 16 from his eight overs. He ran in with all the old ease and directed his hostility shrewdly once a ball of extra pace and bounce on the off stump had hurried Hollioake into an edge to first slip. Walsh took the other important wicket, hitting Graham Thorpe on his bottom hand once more - he had peppered him twice the night before - before finding the edge two balls later.

By doing their jobs so swiftly and efficiently yesterday, Walsh and Ambrose demonstrated the folly of Lara's decision not to give them the new ball when England's second innings started on Saturday morning.

A captain with ideas is better than one who plays everything by the book, but in this case the very memory of England's destruction by these two four years ago should have warned against the gamble of opening with Kenny Benjamin and Nixon McLean. Setting out with a determination to play shots whenever a bad ball arrived, Atherton and Stewart played superbly.

Seldom in recent years have England so deserved the thought of unalloyed success they enjoyed on Saturday. Fraser needed only 19 more balls to complete the best analysis by any man on either side since England/West Indies Tests started 70 years ago.

He accepted his good fortune with a little smile when Ambrose, after his determined and valuable innings, spooned a full toss straight back to him for the eighth wicket. It reflected the one he had allowed himself when walking out after he had himself been given out in the first innings without touching the ball. Slings, arrows and golden eggs all come alike to 'Gussie'.

Day 5: Hooper breaks England hearts

SUCCESSFULLY defending an unbeaten record at Port of Spain stretching back 21 years, the West Indies won the second Test in Trinidad by three wickets, an extraordinary result against the odds made possible by a masterly innings by Carl Hooper, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

Cool, resourceful and patient, he batted almost six hours for 94 not out, always in control of English bowling, which failed to maintain the necessary accuracy on a very slow but still capricious pitch.

Making the highest score of the match in the fourth innings of any Test is a great achievement. After their 3-0 defeat in Pakistan and the shameful pitch in Jamaica, the significance was all the greater for West Indian cricket, rescuing their beleaguered authorities from the shadow of bankruptcy. Much bigger crowds are guaranteed for the third Test starting on Friday on the neighbouring strip, and lovers of the game throughout the Caribbean will believe that a brighter era has begun under the leadership of Brian Lara and Hooper, shrewdly chosen as his vice-captain.

It is too early for that to be claimed or for England to be written off, but for them this was a crushing disappointment, the worse for the fact that for the third tour running they had worked their way into a winning position on this ground.

Again yesterday there were chances not taken, especially a straightforward caught-and-bowled miss by Angus Fraser off the first ball of the day, which enabled David Williams to add 29 more runs to his overnight 36.

This stylish little Trinidadian wicketkeeper, cast aside by the selectors four years ago because his batting was deemed to be too frail, was no less a hero than Hooper, and their partnership of 129 decided what Mike Atherton rightly called ``an outstanding match on a poor pitch''.

The West Indies total of 282 was the second-highest winning score in the fourth innings of a Trinidad Test and the 20th highest anywhere. The increasing slowness of the pitch was not and could not be used as the excuse by England.

Their bowling failed when it mattered. Fraser's 11 wickets for 110 ought to have been a match-winning performance, but Andrew Caddick was unable to take a wicket in the game; Dean Headley, trying too hard, found his zip too late and Phil Tufnell could not spin the ball quickly enough to find the edge.

Tufnell's role yesterday was mainly to try to bottle up Hooper from over the wicket while fast bowlers attempted to break through at the Pavilion End.

Throughout a desperately tense first hour Fraser's caught-and-bowled opportunity proved to be the only chance. Williams drove too early and lobbed the ball back to his right hand as he followed through. The ball would have stuck seven times out of 10, but it did not and the consequences for the morale of both teams was enormous.

After a brief burst from Fraser and Caddick, Atherton paired Tufnell and Hollioake before the new ball. Bowling round the wicket to Williams, Tufnell appealed vociferously for a catch to point off the little man's pad and, so England thought, his gloves, but umpire Bucknor was not convinced.

Once on Sunday evening and twice again yesterday Fraser might easily have been granted leg-before shouts against Williams as he aimed to leg at balls pitching straight. Less frivolous appealing at other times by England and these close calls might well have gone the other way.

Only 25 runs came in the 14 overs before the drinks break, but Hooper never looked in trouble except when a ball popped to his gloves, and it was a curious fact that nobody was caught off the gloves throughout the match.

Placing the ball into the gaps with the full face of his bat, Hooper moved serenely past the first Test fifty he had ever scored at Queen's Park.

Williams needed a little more luck, but a sweep off Tufnell brought him a first Test fifty anywhere and from the moment that a hard cut in the air past slip's right hand took the West Indies past 200, the game's destiny seemed settled.

The new ball was taken at 206 for five, and again a chance quickly went down. Hooking at Fraser, Williams, on 45, gloved the ball down the leg side, but Jack Russell, diving at full stretch to his left, could do no more than parry it with his left hand.

Only wicketkeepers really know whether these sort of wide leg-side catches should be taken or not. What is certain is that wider ones have been caught before.

Two half-chances missed and only eight runs in his two innings amounted to a bad match for Russell, and his misery was completed when, with only 11 runs needed, he could not stop a shooter cleanly. The ball was deflected behind him on to the helmet, which he was wearing when keeping to Tufnell at the other end, and five byes accrued.

Desperate to restore control, Atherton had brought back Tufnell at the northern end, but only when he had no other option than to give Headley his chance did England at last break through, 15 minutes from lunch.

Forward to a good-length ball, Williams edged to first slip, where Graham Thorpe clung on at waist height. Hooper's riposte was a classical drive back over Tufnell's head, but in Headley's next over Curtly Ambrose got an outside edge to be caught behind.

The West Indies still needed 23 at that point, but the interval came at the right time for them, stopping England's brief momentum and allowing Hooper to finish his job with typical insouciance.

England will rest today, lick their wounds and consider what might have been after the long build-up to the tour and all their hard work. Yesterday's reverse will test their mettle and resilience.

The second match on this ground now becomes a game they cannot afford to lose, but on a surface which was saturated yesterday as soon as the match ended, another result either way can be safely predicted.

Lara was polite about England yesterday, rightly praising Fraser in particular, but to the West Indies captain, this was a ``good cricket pitch''.

``Things,'' Lara added, ``are working out.'' Not as England had planned, but at least we had seen an intense and fascinating match, which proved again the captivating qualities of five-day cricket.

Captains' comments

MIKE ATHERTON: ``We let them back into the game and we've only got ourselves to blame. Considering the position we were in at the start of the fourth day, it was a game we expected to win.

``We had more than competed for the first three days and at the start of play yesterday [Sunday] we had the West Indies right on the back foot with a lead of 240 and with six wickets left.

``It's very disappointing to lose, even though it has been an outstanding Test match, and I feel that the fourth day wasn't a good day for us.

``We had the outstanding seamer in Angus Fraser, but I'm disappointed with the way we bowled overall. It was a little bit better today but in the end we didn't have enough runs to play with.

``It wasn't a very good wicket for Test match cricket - the wicket was a little bit up and down.

Having said that, it produced an outstanding Test match, with the bowlers who bowled well getting some wickets and batsmen like Carl Hooper getting some runs as well.

``Angus bowled outstandingly well throughout the match for us. It's extremely unfortunate for him to take 11 wickets in the match and finish up on the losing side.''

BRIAN LARA: ``This has provided me with the next-highest point in my career behind the 375 against England four years ago.

``It was a great victory. Carl Hooper played the best innings I've ever seen from him.

``I've spent the whole day sat in the same place in front of the television in our dressing-room. I didn't want to move for fear it might change something and even when we lost those two wickets, I was confident because Carl was still there.

``Our morale was a little low in Pakistan before Christmas, but that's a tough place to tour and this team is now looking forward. Maybe we're also a little bit more focused.''

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 10 Feb1998 - 14:58