UNTIL Shivnarine Chanderpaul drove England’s left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell to long-off and scrambled the required two runs as the shadows stretched across parched Bourda, yesterday, Guyanese had waited a staggering quarter-century to witness a Test hundred from one of their host of outstanding batsman.
Not since Clive Lloyd’s 178 on the famous old ground against Australia in 1973 had they been able to celebrate one of their own as they did yesterday.
Unable to contain their emotions – or be contained by the utterly inadequate police and security staff – they swarmed across the outfield in their dozens to smother the unpretentious little left-hander with presents and praise.
Lloyd, now the team manager watching with overdue satisfaction from the pavilion, would know that Chanderpaul’s contribution, his second Test hundred, and his third wicket partnership of 159 with the dashing captain Brian Lara, is unlikely to be as futile as his.
The left-handers led the West Indies into what has become forgotten territory and 271 for three already represents a formidable position on a pitch that, by yesterday’s visible evidence, is likely to support the view of both teams that it will turn to dust as the match progresses.
It had pace and bounce enough in the first couple of hours to encourage England’s reduced fast bowling staff of two but gradually lost both. Well before the end, it was showing signs of disintegration.
Chanderpaul resumes this morning at an even 100 after five-and-a-quarter hours batting in which he had stroked a six and 13 fours.
He has with him another son of the soil, the elegant Carl Hooper, and their stand already worth 74. The overall goal must be 400 that would put the match out of England’s reach, if not completely guarantee the victory to gain the West Indies a critical 2-1 lead in the series with two to go.
Chanderpaul joined Lara 15 overs and an hour and ten minutes into the day at a precarious 38 for two after the customary loss of the susceptible openers Stuart Williams and Sherwin Campbell.
Badly missed at second slip by the usually sure-handed Alec Stewart off Angus Fraser when nine, he made the most of his fortune.
Hooper has also had an escape, snicking Dean Headley between first and second slip, and England might well pay dearly for that.
Lara had won the toss for the first time in the four Tests, a distinct advantage that was in danger of being once more frittered away.
Williams, after an uncontrolled top-edged hook for six off Dean Headley and a peerless cover-driven four off Angus Fraser, snicked Fraser low to first slip where Graham Thorpe made a difficult catch look simple.
Campbell, 28 balls getting off the mark and vulnerable to any outswinger that came his way, finally succumbed to a wicked delivery from Headley that leapt from a length at pace and brushed his glove on the way to the ’keeper.
Lara and Chanderpaul had passed this way several times in recent Tests and Headley and Fraser, backed by fielders who committed themselves as if their lives, rather than the series, depended on it, made them sweat through to lunch.
But Headley was constrained by the knowledge that another warning, following two from umpire Steve Bucknor in his first six overs for running on the prohibited area of the pitch, would have finished him for the innings.
Quarter-hour to lunch, Stewart, who had latched on everything that came his way in the preceding Tests in Trinidad, let slip the chance that could prove as costly as those Graham Hick offered Chanderpaul in his second Test, at the Queen's Park Oval four years ago that set up an Ambrose-inspired victory.
By then, the early moisture had been drained from the surface and Lara changed gears after lunch.
He straight drove Fraser for four, stepped out to send Robert Croft soaring towards the Sandals pool with a flick of the wrist for six, pulled Headley off his hip for another four and glanced and cover-drove Croft for more boundaries of pure perfection.
When Headley returned and dropped short, his powerful pull carried for his second six.
Chanderpaul caught the spirit and the pair began to do as they pleased as the bowlers lost their control of the first session. While the first two hours yielded 61 runs from 26 overs, the third brought 51 off 15.
The momentum slowed before tea, taken at 151 for two, but it didn’t mean the two batsmen were any less in charge, simply that they realised the opportunity to build the type of total that has eluded the West Indies for so long.
Quarter-hour into the final session, Chanderpaul’s firm, low cut off Fraser sent an improbable chance to the diving Stewart’s left at second slip, a narrow escape that the batsman acknowledged by moving down to Tufnell and copying Lara’s earlier six over long-on into the hardy spectators seated in the still uncompleted Rohan Kanhai Stand.
Lara was also in full cry and nothing looked more certain than his first hundred in six Tests – and a repeat of that here in 1994 – when his low drive at Croft was spectacularly caught, inches from the ground, by Thorpe 50 yards away at extra-cover.
This was genuine Lara, back to his best after his travails of the past year. In for four-and-a-quarter hours, his most productive strokes were the two sixes and 13 fours.
There were no more than half-dozen false strokes and not the semblance of a chance.
Hooper arrived, one lower in the order than in Trinidad, and announced himself with his trademark stroke, a straight six of Tufnell that sent the crowd into ecstasy. No one, not even Lara, does it so effortlessly.
He was 14 when Thorpe at first slip and Stewart at second watched his offered catch go between them.
Day 2: Bowlers To The Rescue
GEORGETOWN Ð After the high-scoring exhilaration of Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul on Friday, the West Indies batting reverted to type on the second day of the fourth day at Bourda yesterday.
The promise of 271 for three at the start declined to the disappointment of 352 all out, the last seven wickets mustering a meagre 54.
Still, it was more than the bowlers had to work with for 13 Tests and, as usual, they were clinically efficient.
By close, they had secured a stranglehold on the game, reducing England to the jittery insecurity of 87 for six, still 265 behind on a dry pitch that can only become increasingly more encouraging to bowlers.
Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Ian Bishop, old and familiar names with imposing credentials, created the early inroads with the first four wickets. Dinanath Ramnarine, the new kid on the block, tightened the screws with his controlled, whirring leg-spin that gained him the other two.
Ambrose sent the first shudders through the England dressing room by despatching captain Mike Atherton without scoring in the fourth over, a tentative outside edge providing Brian Lara with a lap-high catch at first slip.
It was the 13th time in Tests Atherton had fallen to his nemesis and was an immediate fillip for the West Indies.
For a while, Alec Stewart batted with the same meat-of-the-bat assurance that brought him 259 runs in his previous five innings in the series, putting on 36 on either side of tea with his Surrey partner and brother-in-law, the left-handed Mark Butcher.
Once Bishop accounted for Butcher in his second over, lbw aiming across the line, and Lara brought back Walsh for a second spell from the northern end in place of Ambrose, the tide turned distinctly towards the West Indies.
Working up pace that no 35-year-old in his 100th Test should be able to and making the ball cut both ways off the pitch, his effect was unsettling.
In his first over, he had the dangerous Stewart caught low down by wicket-keeper David Williams off a sharp leg-cutter that it needed the TV replay to clearly show the ball carried.
In his fourth, he beat the left-handed Graham Thorpe with one that went the other way to find his probing outside edge but Lara let the chance slip through fingers that have become so unreliable of late.
In his seventh, Nasser Hussain, who had passed through tortured times at the opposite end against the rapid-fire Ramnarine, went back to an off-cutter and was ruled lbw by umpire Steve Bucknor.
England were 65 for four and it was now Ramnarine's turn to join the fun.
Bustling in from four paces and with a quick arm action, he was buoyed by the uncertainty of Hussain and, before the umpires called play two overs early because of fading light, got rid of Thorpe and another left-hander, the quirky wicket-keeper Jack Russell.
Thorpe was caught off the back of the bat sweeping, always an ill-advised stroke against a leg-spinner on a worn pitch.
Embraced in congratulations by team-mates, Ramnarine soon conjured up a huge leg-break that shocked Russell and pinned him back in front of middle- and leg-stumps.
Mark Ramprakash, returning to the Test team for the first time in the series, and Robert Croft saw out the next half-hour to stumps but England, with another 66 to avoid the follow-on, are well and truly in trouble.
For the first half of the day, they had fought their way back into the game.
Starting from an unfamiliarly solid platform with Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper to resume on the stage they know best, the West Indies might have envisaged the match-winning heights of a 400 total.
It proved an over-optimistic illusion. The customary late order collapse was triggered, as it so often is, by a slack stroke, not surprisingly by Hooper eight overs into the day, and the goal of 400 never seemed attainable after that.
England claimed the new ball immediately and, following a delay of more than ten minutes to repair the bowlers' footholds, Hooper caressed Angus Fraser through midwicket for four.
It was a misleading gesture for a large and expectant crowd, anticipating a run glut from the Guyanese pair.
Hooper had added only eight when his uncontrolled hook at Dean Headley spooned into cover point's hands.
The innings never found its momentum after that.
Chanderpaul snicked Fraser to first slip an hour-and-a-quarter into the day, in much the same way as he had done almost 24 hours before when he was nine.
He was 118 now and Thorpe comfortably clutched the catch that Stewart had failed to hold earlier.
David Williams and Ambrose didn't contribute, Jimmy Adams played with some fluency before umpire Hair got fed up with him kicking the ball away and ruled him lbw.
On a pitch behaving far better than its appearance suggested it should, the West Indies had to be disappointed with their total. By the close, their bowlers had considerably enhanced its value.
Day 3: WI Release Stranglehold On England GEORGETOWN Ð The West Indies' sharp decline over the past couple of years has been littered with days of appalling cricket. Yesterday, was the latest example and none could have been worse.
With a combination of unnecessary diffidence and strange tactics, they limply and inexplicably released their stranglehold on the fourth Test on the third day and offered England the chance of one of the game's more remarkable victories.
The situation was such at the start that the main consideration was whether Brian Lara would choose to enforce the inevitable follow-on when England, 87 for six replying to 352, were quickly disposed of.
Eight-and-a-half hours later, England had comfortably avoided the prospect of being sent back in and, although still behind by 182, had garnered such heart from the resilient batting of the overnight pair, Mark Ramprakash and Robert Croft, and their opponents' strange lack of self-confidence that the force was with them.
Against typically indisciplined batting and with the benefit of a compassionate umpiring decision or two, they then reduced the West Indies to 127 for nine in their second innings, with four wickets for four runs in the agonising, dying minutes.
Two days remain and, although their deficit is now 309, England's unbelievable hopes are boosted not only by the sudden swing of the pendulum but also by a pitch that has defied all predictions.
It has been bone dry from the start and bears the surface scars of over 261.4 overs wear and tear. But it has done little untoward, has been even in bounce and its turn has been manageable. If anything, and regardless of the pathetic West Indies' effort, batting was easier yesterday than on the previous two.
As Ramprakash and Croft gathered their runs with consummate ease, West Indian thoughts would inevitably have drifted back to the great teams of a decade ago and made some unflattering comparisons.
In the 1980s, the overnight equation would have been the virtual guarantee of the type of three-day victories by an innings that were a speciality of the teams under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.
Any two of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh would have been flying at the throat like a pair of angry Dobermans and there would have been menace and urgency in the air.
These are different times and the only canine to affect play yesterday morning was a docile mongrel whose contribution was to leave an unwelcome deposit on the outfield.
Instead of the strutting self-confidence of old, an air of resignation permeated the West Indies effort. This was compounded by captain Brian Lara's inexplicable decision to confine his most penetrative and feared bowler, the great Curtly Ambrose, to the depths of the outfield for the entire pre-lunch session.
Ambrose, it had to be ascertained, was fit and, as he demonstrated when finally handed the new ball after lunch by vice-captain Carl Hooper in Lara's temporary absence, raring to go.
Croft, the whole world should be aware by now, was exposed by the Australians last season as a soft touch to the rib-cage ball of which Ambrose is a past master. But he was never subjected to it.
England still required 13 to pass the 153 that would deny Lara the option of the follow-on when the ninth wicket fell.
But Ramprakash, playing an innings of 64 not out spread over three-and-three-quarter hours that should finally ensure an extended tenure in the England team, saw to it that a further 30 were added for the last wicket with Phil Tufnell, the authentic No.11.
It was not until the total reached 159 and Lara was off the field for attention to a split finger nail, that Ambrose was eventually introduced.
Immediately, the sizeable Sunday crowd, mystified by his lengthy absence, was energised and he required only 13 balls to round things off, the retreating Tufnell slapping a catch to cover.
In a jiffy, Stuart Williams, Sherwin Campbell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul had gone for 32 and the remainder of the innings had to be put on holding mode.
Williams edged his fourth ball low to second slip off Headley and walked off, probably for the last time for the series.
Campbell was enjoying himself for the first time for the series, with a succession of crisp cuts and drives, when umpire Darrell Hair, ruled him caught at short-leg.
Campbell seemed shocked by the decision before striding off, a reaction the television replay seemed to justify.
When Chanderpaul pushed the next ball into the off-side and took off unnecessarily for a single always fraught with danger, Nasser Hussain pounced on the ball and threw down the stumps at the bowler's end.
For an-hour-and-ten minutes either side of tea, Lara and Hooper settled things. Lara had made 30 when he spawned out at a delivery pitched into the rough wide of off-stump and seemed as surprised as Campbell to see umpire Steve Bucknor's raised finger on an appeal for a bat-pad catch.
Hooper stayed an hour and three-quarters with no bother before the first of a couple of telling bowling changes made the break.
Padding out to the first ball of a new spell from Headley from the northern end, he was the first of three batsmen dispatched by Hair for the same misdemeanour.
David Williams entered with three successive noughts on his mind. He was so desperate to break the sequence, he set off for his first run with what should have been suicidal intentions.
Day 4: West Indies Whip England By 242 Runs
Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, destroyers of England so often in the past, repeated the act at Bourda yesterday when they sent the visitors spiralling to defeat in the fourth Test.
Needing 380 to win with more than a day-and-a-half remaining, England's top order was wrecked by the fast bowling duo who rapidly reduced them to 28 for four.
They were all out for 137, leaving West Indies winners by 242 runs for a 2-1 lead in the six-match series.
The outcome was never really in doubt, especially after Ian Bishop (44 not out) and debutant spinner Dinanath Ramnarine (19) compiled a West Indian record tenth-wicket partnership of 70 in the morning session to take the home side to 197 in their second innings.
It would have required the third highest winning total in Test match history for England to have won the match.
Such thoughts rapidly disappeared as Ambrose dismissed captain Mike Atherton for one and Graham Thorpe for three, while Walsh accounted for Alec Stewart (12) and Nasser Hussain (0).
Mark Ramprakash, who made an unbeaten 64 in England's first innings, again topscored with 34 before he became Walsh's third victim.
Walsh finished with three for 25 while Ambrose took four for 38. The other three wickets fell to off-spinner Carl Hooper.
Captain Brian Lara afterwards paid tribute to Ambrose and Walsh. ``We have relied on them for so long it becomes automatic,'' he said.
Atherton said losing the toss had been a factor in England's defeat but ``in general terms we were outplayed''.
It was a comprehensive win for West Indies who were on top from the first day when Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 118 and Lara 93. Chanderpaul won the Man-Of-The-Match award.
England, who came to West Indies with high hopes of beating them in a Test series for the first time in almost 30 years, were afterwards quoted by their bookmakers at 20-1 to win the series while the odds against West Indies were 10-1 on.
The fifth Test starts at Kensington Oval next week Thursday.