Day 3: England fight back
Tony Becca, Senior Sport Editor
CRICKET: Georgetown: The England cricketers of 1998 are short of quality players. Apart from pacer Angus Fraser, there is not a star around. They are however, fighters of the highest order.
Many times during the current Cable and Wireless series, they appeared ready to fall -- sometimes without a fight. On almost every occasion however, including Saturday's second day of the current fourth Test at Bourda when they captured seven wickets for 57 runs to check the West Indies who were great guns at 295 for three, they fought back strongly, and yesterday was no exception.
Resuming on 87 for six, still another 66 runs to save the follow-on, the odds against them doing so, and the Test match heading for a quick and decisive finish in the West Indies favour, England fought like tigers in the morning, saved the follow-on, and then, like hungry lions on the prowl, attacked the West Indies in a brilliant bid to snatch what would be a memorable victory.
At stumps on the third day of the Test match however, the scoreboard read, West Indies 352 and 127 for nine, England 170, and with the home team leading by 309 on a wearing and difficult pitch, the odds, even if they do not add another run, remain in favour of the West Indies winning the match and after the split results in Port Of Spain, taking a 2-1 lead with two to go in the six-match contest.
Whatever the final result of this Georgetown battle however, and despite the pitch they must have a sniff of victory, England should be proud of their performance yesterday - a performance which saw Mark Ramprakash and Robert Croft denying the West Indies bowlers for 90 minutes as England saved the follow-on and pacers Dean Headley and Angus Fraser, left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell and offspinner Croft ripping through the Windies line-up which lost three of its batsmen -- Carl Hooper, James Adams and Curtly Ambrose -- leg before wicket without offering a stroke.
After coming together with the tourists reeling at 75 for six, Ramprakash and Croft moved their seventh-wicket partnership from 12 overnight to 64 before, 14 runs away from forcing the West Indies to bat again, Croft went to cut offspinner Hooper and was caught at slip by Brian Lara for 36 at 139 for seven.
Croft, the Welshman who celebrated St. David's Day (patron saint of Wales) with a daffodil (the symbol of Wales) on the middle strap of his pad, batted for 117 minutes, faced 91 deliveries, struck four boundaries, and undoubtedly played his part in England's survival.
The hero however, was Ramprakash -- the son of a Guyanese father who joined the action with England sinking on 65 for four on the previous afternoon, played some lovely strokes while ticking off only his third half-century in 21 Test matches, shepherded Tufnell past the follow-on mark as England skidded to 140 for nine after losing three wickets for one run and remained undefeated on 64 after batting for 220 minutes facing 180 deliveries, and stroking seven boundaries.
Trailing by 182 and still in trouble on a pitch so scarred and dusty it looked like those scattered around Kingston's Heroes Circle years ago in the days when it was Race Course, or like something in someone's backyard, England made a desperate bid to reduce the odds and were off to a brilliant start when they removed Stuart Williams, Sherwin Campbell and Shivnarine Chanderpual, and then Lara and Hooper as the West Indies slipped to 32 for three, to 93 for five, and then, with four wickets falling for four runs in four overs, to 123 for nine.
Stuart Williams was the first to go -- caught by Alec Stewrt at second slip off Headley for zero and four for one, and he was followed by Campbell -- caught at short-leg by Ramprkash off Fraser for 17 at 32 for two, and then by Chanderpual who, after his first innings 118, stroked the first ball he received from Fraser into the covers, raced away for a cheeky single, and was brilliantly runout by Nasser Hussain who hit the stumps at the bowler's end.
Lara, who, on five at 15 for one, pulled Headley low and in and out of Mark Butcher's hands at backward square-leg, who, on nine at 31 for one, escaped when a leading edge from an attempted onside stroke off Fraser, dropped between Mike Atherton at mid-off and Butcher at straight extra-cover, and Hooper played some fine strokes and threatened to take command before the left-handed Lara, 30, chipping and playing forward to Tufnell's bowling over the wicket, tapped a delivery which pitched in the rough to Butcher at silly point.
That was 75 for four, and after a couple more fine strokes, Hooper, padding up to Headley's first delivery from the north, was leg before wicket for 34 at 93 for five as umpire Darrell Hair sent back the first of the three batsmen he penalised for not offering a stroke.
Adams and David Williams countered with a few brave attacking strokes, but with seven overs to go, and just when it appeared they would bat out the day, they were back in the pavilion -and so too were Ambrose and Walsh.
Williams hit a short delivery from part-time bowler Ramprakash straight to Tufnell at square-leg to make it 123 for six, Adams, as was the case in the first innings, played forward with his bat behind his pad and was leg before wicket to Croft for 18 at 123 for seven, Ambrose played forward to Croft, left his bat behind his pad, and was leg before wicket to Croft for two at 127 for eight, and Walsh playing forward to Croft, was caught off the inside edge by wicketkeeper Jack Russell for zero at 127 for nine as England ended a day during which they dominated the West Indies with their four remaining wickets adding 83 runs and their bowlers knocking off nine West Indies in 46.2 overs
CRICKET: If England somehow manage to wriggle off the hook and save the Test match now in progress at Bourda, West Indies captain Brian Lara is sure to come in for some stick.
In fact, whatever the outcome of the match, the man considered by many as blessed with an exceptional knowledge of the game and the gift of strategy will be under pressure for his tactical manoeuvres yesterday morning as England battled successfully to save the follow-on.
While there were those who believed that the West Indies, even if they could, should not have enforced the follow-on and thus run the risk of batting last on a wearing pitch, there was no doubt that the Windies wanted to pu England back in.
With England resuming on 87 for six with Mark Ramprakash on 13, Robert Croft on five and needing another 66 runs to save the follow-on, the odds, with only Dean Headley, Angus Fraser, and Phil Tufnell to come, were on the West Indies winning the choice.
Although there were those who figured that with Curtly Ambrose nursing a stomach ailment, the opening attack should have been pacer Courtney Walsh from the north and right-arm legspinner Dinanath Ramnarine from the south, Lara started with Walsh from the north, fellow pacer Ian Bishop from the south and only a few eyebrows were raised.
What was baffling however, was that when Bishop was removed after 30 minutes, he was replaced, not by Ramnarine but by Hooper, and that when Walsh was removed after 50 minutes he was replaced by Bishop and not Hooper.
It was baffling, not so much because Hooper was used before Ramnarine who bowled so well on the previous day, but because of the end from which Hooper was introduced.
There was rough at both ends caused by the fast bowlers bowling over the wicket, and there were holes just before the batsman and around offstump at the southern end - right where the offspinner would pitch a good length delivery.
Instead of Hooper from the south, it should have been Ramnarine from the south and Hooper from the north - as was the case later on when Lara got it right and England lost three wickets for one run in three overs and fell from 139 for six to 140 for nine.
Bowling from the south, Ramnarine, as he would also have done from the north, got the ball to spin out of the rough. What was really important however, is that while Hooper pitched on an unaffected part of the pitch in front of the batsman while bowling from the south, if he came from the north, the ball, on a length, pitched in the holes in front of the batsmen.
Croft was a victim of one which hit the hole, spun a lot, and bounced, and Headley was undone by one which did not hit any of the holes and went straight through.
Ramnarine took care of Fraser when the right-hander swept at a ball which pitched in the rough outside the legstump, spun and bounced, and hit the top-edge.
There is never anything certain in cricket, but had Lara used Ramnarine from the south and Hooper from the north earlier, the West Indies may not have had to wait 90 minutes and 24 overs before taking the first wicket of the morning, England may not have added those valuable 52 runs, the West Indies may have won the choice, and the Test match may have been over - or nearly over.
Day 4: Windies demolish England
Tony Becca, Senior Sport Editor
CRICKET: The West Indies, powered by a devastating opening assault from veteran fast bowlers Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, defeated England at Bourda yesterday to win the fourth Test of the Cable and Wireless series with a day to spare and by a commanding 242 runs.
The end came in the final over of the fourth day when Dean Headley drove at a delivery from Ambrose and Shivnarine Chanderpaul at fourth slip grabbed the catch as the West Indies players raced about in jubilation.
In winning the match, the West Indies, after winning the second and losing the third now lead the six-match contest two-one. With the fifth Test scheduled for the usually lively Kensington Oval pitch in Bridgetown, the Windies, despite their fragile batting, must now be overwhelming favourites to win the series.
Final score: West Indies 325 and 197, England 170 and 137 with Ambrose boasting figures of four for 38 off 14.1 overs, Walsh three for 25 off 15, and offspinner Carl Hooper three for 31 off 18 overs.
In a sizzling opening burst during which they beat the best of England's batsmen with sheer speed, scared the daylights out of them with some well pitched bouncers and some deliveries which kicked off a length, and beat them off the scarred, dusty pitch with away cutters and incutters which cut off the pitch like offbreaks, the past masters of fast bowling, the only two bowlers with over 300 wickets each ever to play in the same team in a Test match, knocked England dizzy, had them reeling at 28 for four, and then, with the help of Hooper, returned to polish them off.
As far as the hundreds of England supporters sitting in the partially renovated Rohan Kanhai Stand were concerned, yesterday, with its brilliant sunshine and cooling wind, was a beautiful day.
For England's batsmen however, it was hell in the middle against the rampaging Ambrose and Walsh.
In his second over, the first after lunch, Ambrose, as he has done four times out of seven this series, removed Mike Atherton - leg before wicket for one at six for one. After losing a number of appeals for leg before wicket and for catches behind the wicket, Walsh made it 22 for three when he trapped Alec Stewart leg before wicket for 12. Without addition to the score, he choked Nasser Hussain with a lovely bouncer and sent him away for zero - caught by James Adams at short-leg.
It was 28 for four in the 11th over when the left-handed Graham Thorpe, on three, clipped Ambrose off his legs and Ramnarine at leg gully dived to his right for a magnificent two handed catch.
Three runs later the left-handed Mark Butcher, on four, got a delivery from Walsh which came into him through the air from around the wicket, cut away when it hit the pitch, and Hooper dropped the catch at second slip.
Hooper's second mistake came when, with the score on 56 for four and Mark Ramprakash and Butcher fighting off the ropes, Ramprakash drove Hooper into the offside, ran one, went for another, had to turn back when Butcher did not respond, and was beating a hasty, apparently hopeless retreat when Hooper, with the batsman way out, failed to collect Stuart Williams' throw.
Hooper however, getting the ball to jump out of the rough and sometimes to scuttle along the ground, made amends immediately after tea. He trapped Butcher leg before wicket for 17 at 58 for five. Then David Williams who dropped Jack Russell on four at 71 for five recovered to catch Ramprakash for 34 at 90 for six when Walsh returned, this time from the north.
At that stage, with 20 overs to go, the betting in the Press Box was whether the Test match would enter the fifth and final day.
There were not many who bet that it would, and it did not, as after a slight delay during which Jack Russell defended doggedly and Robert Croft played a couple of fine strokes - including a spanking cover drive off Walsh who ended his 100th Test on 367 wickets and only nine away from Malcolm Marshall's West Indies best of 376, Hooper took care of Croft - caught by David Williams for 14 at 118 for seven and Ambrose removed Russell when he hit the outside edge of the left-hander's bat and Brian Lara flew to his right at first slip for the catch.
That was 125 for eight with six overs to go, and with the crowd shouting ``no tomorrow'', Angus Fraser, probably tired of playing forward and hearing all the cries of leg before wicket and the shouts for ``catch him'', swept at Hooper and Walsh, came off the square-leg boundary to make it 135 for nine.
Then it was all over when Ambrose, a man who does not like to waste time, got the edge of Headley's bat and Chanderpaul made no mistake