The Electronic Telegraph carries daily news and opinion from the UK and around the world.

West Indies v England, 5th Test, Barbados

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph

12-16 March 1998

Day 1: Ramprakash and Thorpe rescue England from morning wreckage

By Christopher Martin-Jenkins

GREAT teams seldom give their opponents a chance; good teams dig themselves out of holes. They do not come much deeper than 55 for four on a beautiful pitch with a fifth batsman hors de combat, but from this penurious position at lunchtime, England did, to their credit, improve their total to 229 for five on the first day of the fifth Test in Barbados.

They did so by means largely of another accomplished innings by Mark Ramprakash, a performance worthy of an overdue first Test hundred today.

Moving his feet correctly and decisively and thinking coolly throughout, he guided his team into clearer waters after yet another buffeting from those storm-forced fast bowlers, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

A partnership of 78 with Jack Russell was followed by another of 98 with Graham Thorpe, who overcame a back injury to take advantage of incomparably the truest surface of the series, perfect for batting once its early moisture had evaporated. Woe betide England's bowlers if Brian Lara gets set.

Put in after preferring Phil Tufnell to the unlucky Robert Croft on a 2-1 selectors' vote, England would have batted anyway. Their duty was to play with care for the first two hours, then to attempt to take control in the heat of the afternoon.

Instead they threw away two wickets with careless strokes from their two most experienced batsmen, handed the West Indies the initiative and found themselves in serious trouble.

Kensington Oval was bursting at the seams with expectant England supporters, outnumbering the locals by probably four to one and all fervently hoping for a repeat of that extraordinary game of 1994, a match played as if in a psychedelic dream.

For an hour this was more like a nightmare, and the touring followers, starting like football supporters on Cup semi-final day, were soon reduced to respectful silence.

Four England batsmen came and went in the first hour and by lunch-time a fifth, Graham Thorpe, was out of the action too, having triggered immobilising spasms in his lower back.

Lara's decision to field had flown in the face of the statistics - 10 the last toss-winning captains at Kensington had put their opponents in and only three of them had been justified by ultimate victory.

When Atherton, desperately in need of some fortune, edged off the splice past third slip in Courtney Walsh's opening over, memories of the opening partnership of 171, which had laid the base four years ago, began to stir.

Understandably, but fatally, these memories stirred too feverishly in Stewart's mind. A couple of shots through mid-on, a handsome square-cut for four off Curtly Ambrose, a single for his 5,000th Test run and the rising excitement of the crowd positively flooded him with adrenalin.

He failed to heed the warning of a slash at Walsh, which just missed the edge and, next ball, in only the fifth over, with the ball bouncing and going through fast, he aimed another full-blooded forcing shot and edged to David Williams.

Atherton's problem was to try to hold things together until lunch but also to be positive, given that over negativity and leaden feet had been at the heart of his technical problems. He chose the wrong ball to try to assert himself, hooking Walsh from an off-stump line with no attempt to roll his wrists and lifting a comfortable catch to long-leg.

Nasser Hussain came in against bowlers with their tails up, and it was Nixon McLean, bowling fast from the Pickwick End, who accounted for him with a furious ball, which lifted to take his gloves as he tried to ride back out of its path, Lara clinging on skilfully at first slip.

Mark Butcher, who had come in at three, was prised out only by an expert piece of bowling by Ambrose after 83 minutes of solid defence during which the face of his bat was always in evidence.

Had Ambrose managed to cling on to a low caught and bowled chance to his left hand when Ramprakash, two, played a firm forward push, the West Indies would have been in control.

After all the vicissitudes of his career, however, Ramprakash was due for some luck, without which no cricketer can make headway.

This patient, impeccable professional, building on the quiet counselling from John Emburey during the difficult early weeks of the tour, simply played as the text-book dictates, without frills and always according to the merits of the ball in question.

At last, with Jack Russell as his partner while Thorpe received treatment to his back after lunch, we began to see some proper batting.

It was almost too late, but Russell started the resistance, twice hooking Walsh, and dealing stoutly with Ambrose's attempts to aim at his body. Carl Hooper, meanwhile, glided in from the Pickwick End, light as a trolley on wheels, until Ramprakash moved out decisively and drove him over mid-on.

Lara was forced to use his weakest suit, the Bishop who is but a shadow of the bowler he was. Russell forced and off-drove him for fours as his length strayed; no-balls abounded and the score began to mount.

Six overs from tea, Hooper's steady off-breaks had their reward when Russell, after a spirited and valuable innings, pushed to short-leg off bat and pad.

Thorpe, five not out, walked out to resume batting at 131 for five, knowing that it was his job to build with Ramprakash a partnership of real substance.

Apart from two bad calling misjudgments by Thorpe, either of which would have proved fatal with a direct hit, he and Ramprakash played outstandingly. Ramprakash passed his previous highest Test score of 72.

More Day 1:

Lara holding all the aces

By Mark Nicholas

RYOU never can tell with the West Indies. First they make four changes to a team which trod all over their opponents in Guyana. Then they win the toss on a hot, clear day and elect to bowl first on a pitch which appeared, even to the keenest bowler, as if it would best suit a batsman.

It was Sir Leonard Hutton who said something like ``pitches are like wives, you never can tell how they will turn out'' but this one looked a pearler to me and one on which Brian Lara alone, never mind the others, might have immediately batted England out of the game.

Not so. Sir Leonard was right, you never can tell. So right in fact that a rumour, albeit it a false one, I think, either side of the toss suggested that England may have bowled first as well.

Sensibly, Michael Atherton declined to comment on that issue when he was asked - best keep your cards to your chest when you've no ace to play. Not so sensibly within 45 minutes of the start of play, he accepted Courtney Walsh's invitation to the pull-stroke and promptly guided it into the hands of Curtly Ambrose down at long-leg.

Walsh and Ambrose, now there's a pair of aces if ever there were and Lara chose to play them straight away. Michael Holding has been on about this all tour. Spinner? Why, he says, we haven't got one good enough, so play to our strength, pick four fast bowlers and let them off the leash, come what may. He adds that there is not a pitch in the Caribbean that will not, on the first morning, encourage bowlers in a class of the old firm.

This time it was Walsh who wounded England first by persuading mistakes from the opening batsmen and moving the others about the crease as if they were on the end of his rope.

Walsh's use of variations in length and pace was spectacular. How quickly he knew that the simple discipline of line and length which worked the oracle on the less good pitches of the previous Tests would not be enough here. He banged in some short pitchers, lobbed up the odd slower ball and switched from over to around the wicket and back again with equal ease. Never did he compromise accuracy or effort and once Ambrose had switched to replace Walsh from the south end of the ground, neither did he.

The bowling which did for Mark Butcher was exquisite. First ball was over the wicket and at off-stump so Butcher let it go across him to safety; the next two balls were around the wicket again at off-stump, one was pushed firmly to cover, the other left alone. The fourth ball was back over the wicket and directed at middle and off but cutting away a fraction. Butcher played forward comfortably, quite convinced that he had it covered but then watched in shock as it flew from the edge of his bat low to second slip where Carl Hooper completed the job.

This dismissal and the end of Nasser Hussain, who was undone by a fast short ball which homed in on his gloves, reminded a ground riddled with English spectators that the legacy of West Indian fast bowling lives on. The selectors choices and Lara's decision first thing yesterday morning reminded us all of the unpredictability of their cricket in general and of its attraction. The game would be worse off for their taming.

Day 2: Ramprakash shows England the way

WHATEVER the result of the fifth Test at Kensington Oval - and after a rapid start to the West Indian first innings, only Phil Tufnell at his best could win it for England - the arrival of Mark Ramprakash as a fully- fledged Test cricketer will be the most significant feature of the game, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

His immaculate first Test hundred and all his performances in the last month in Guyana and Barbados will bracket him with Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe as the first to be written into England's batting order for the foreseeable future.

Judging by the way that Carl Hooper began to turn an off-break or two on the way to his fourth five-wicket Test analysis as England were bowled out for 403, Ramprakash may have a part to play as a bowler in this game, too. Certainly, Tufnell was the only bowler to threaten the new West Indian opening pair as Clayton Lambert and Philo Wallace, driving and hooking with the power of a howitzer, battered their way to an opening partnership of 82 in 20 overs.

Wallace's straight driving on the up off Angus Fraser and Dean Headley was spectacular. He might not have got away with it on most other pitches, when the ball moves off the seam, but on this perfect surface, he succeeded gloriously until, just before the close, Headley trapped him leg-before as he played forward to a ball which nipped back.

Ramprakash's maiden hundred in his 38th Test innings and his partnership of 205 with Thorpe, a record for England's sixth wicket against the West Indies, kept their opponents in the field well into the third session of the second day, finally proving the folly of Brian Lara's decision to field first. The rate of West Indian scoring will have to continue to be exceptional to put England under pressure of defeat, but with Lara, Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to come, that is not impossible.

One can only guess at the sublime joy Ramprakash must have felt when, six overs before lunch, he reached his hundred in his 22nd match for England with his 13th four, a perfectly-balanced forcing stroke off the back foot through extra-cover off Nixon McLean. At last, the rare talent of the 18-year-old who claimed the man-of-the-match award for Middlesex in the 1988 NatWest final is fulfilled.

He was not satisfied with a century yesterday on one of the best pitches he has ever experienced and nor, certainly, will he feel that the 154 he eventually reached is any more than the beginning of a succession of major innings for his country. In 532 minutes of batting, just under nine hours of concentration, he guided England from the horrors of 55 for four to 382 when finally he drove hard back at McLean. There was a nice irony in that: his only chance had been a caught-and-bowled to Curtly Ambrose when he had made two in his first over at the crease.

He hit 20 fours over a rapid outfield. It might have been more but the West Indian bowling was admirably accurate and Lara had a man at deep cover for long periods yesterday to cut off his most productive stroke, the square-cut.

The partnership comfortably surpassed the 163 which Tony Greig and Alan Knott shared on this same ground in 1973-74, effectively to save that game. Whether Ramprakash and Thorpe have merely saved this one, or given England the basis for an improbable victory, is questionable.

There are no indications at all that the pitch will not last five days, although it was again very hot yesterday and an arid wind swept all day from the east yesterday. Eventually, no doubt, the ball will start to keep low and facing a total in excess of 400 creates its own pressures.

England's sixth-wicket pair never looked in trouble in the morning session but admirably accurate fast bowling by Ambrose and McLean kept the runs to 63 from 26 overs. Nine of them were delivered by the muscular 6ft 4in McLean, who confirmed his promise on this good pitch every bit as much as he had on the slow one in Trinidad.

Hooper's introduction was strangely delayed until after lunch, the latest example of Lara's somewhat quirky captaincy. Thorpe, adept off his legs and beautifully straight except when occasionally lured into an indiscretion wide of his off-stump by the wiles of Courtney Walsh, had made 84 by lunch and his hundred came, after six hours and 40 minutes batting, with a typical turn to leg off Hooper. Two overs later, however, Hooper dismissed him with a ball which turned just sufficiently to take the outside edge and carry low to slip.

Any thoughts which Mike Atherton might have entertained of declaring half an hour before the close last night were swiftly ended by Ramprakash's dismissal. Dean Headley batted sensibly, thoroughly justifying his promotion to No 8, in helping his former county colleague to add 47 but a few bold shots after the hero had departed were all that England had left. Hooper's subtle variations and the extra bounce which this pitch afforded him enabled him to make quick work of the tail.

A total of 403 might, in the end, have been a disappointment for England. But at lunch the previous day, they were 55 for four, with Thorpe retired hurt. Whatever the result, this was a great recovery.

Day 3: Ramprakash relishes his star billing

By Scyld Berry

CRICKET can be not only the cruellest game. It can also be the most generous of sports, raising the rank of those of low degree, like Mark Ramprakash has been for seven years among Test cricketers, and transforming them overnight from apprentices into stars.

Less than a month ago Ramprakash was the odd man out on this tour, not having played, let alone accomplished anything. Now he is an established Test batsman and, more surprising still, an off-spinner who may help to convert his own rescue act with the bat into the full monty of a series-levelling victory.

So whereas cricket in recent years has seldom deigned to throw Ramprakash a scrap of fortune, here he has been doubly blessed. Firstly he was virtually spared the opening session when Kensington's pitch had some life for the West Indian fast bowlers, and given the best conditions in which to reveal his quality at long last. Then, yesterday, he was given a pitch of spin and bounce - a rare combination nowadays - on which to turn his occasional off-breaks, not to mention the strident breeze off the Caribbean into which he could float them.

Yet, established though he finally is, the eyes can still flash at any moment. He is 28, the captain of Middlesex and has left behind his 10 years of toil in the vineyards of county cricket. Yet the eyes still flash.

And it is partly because these mirrors reveal a still fiery soul that the new talk of Ramprakash as England's next Test captain is premature in the extreme. His time may well come, but not yet awhile - not so soon after his graduation as a Test batsman at last.

Besides, he should be allowed to bed down as England's No 6, and he may well have a place in England's one-day team as well. His form of the last three weeks has certainly earned him a place in England's party for the series of five one-day internationals.

The promise of an extended run in the team, and at No 6, the ideal spot for a junior batsman to find his feet; maturity, if not mellowness as those eyes will testify, which has come with the captaincy of Middlesex and fatherhood; a technique which has long been rated the best in county cricket; experience of the West Indies on a previous England senior tour and an A tour; not to mention the ability which marked him out as a prodigy in north London club cricket in his early teens. These are some of the ``lots of reasons'', as the man himself termed it, which have led to his career clicking at long last.

England have long delighted in making a debutant batsman sweat up and down the order, instead of giving him a settled novice's place, and in giving him as many obstacles rather than as few. In and out of the England side for years, up and down the order, was the fate of Mike Gatting and Derek Randall, even of Graham Gooch to a lesser degree - and of all those who sank forever, never to swim at all, like the Maynards and Baileys and, almost, but for the fire which has never dimmed, Ramprakash.

Gatting and Gooch, on the phone from Colombo where they were managing England's A tour, lobbied from the start of this series for Ramprakash to be given the extended chance and settled place they were so long denied. Providence had better plans, which spared him the pitches of Sabina Park and Port of Spain. A snorter or two from Curtly Ambrose on those too-sporting pitches, and even Ramprakash's fiery eyes might have had to yield to self doubt.

Much more sensible it was to start his tour in Guyana, in the practice match against his father's homeland. His first over at the crease was eloquent: twice he forced into the covers and dared to run a sensible single and a two. That pressure which he had long felt upon himself which had impelled him almost to run to the wicket at Johannesburg and back again in 1995 to get it all over with - he was not putting it on others.

The rugged power play of Adam Hollioake had been England's first preference at No 6, and the tactic worked against lesser attacks before the Tests. Ramprakash has offered the classical orthodoxes of batsmanship aside from a slightly open stance.

Middlesex's ``spin twins'' used to be John Emburey and Phil Edmonds, but Phil Tufnell and Ramprakash have been quite as economical, if not as penetrative. Clayton Lambert, after his belligerent start, added 12 runs in the whole of the morning session before expiring when Andy Caddick was finally summoned and slanted a ball across him. Ian Bishop was Tufnell's one wicket before tea, when a ball bit and bounced not for the first time.

Brian Lara was sufficiently tied down by the Middlesex spinners to submit to frustration by cover-driving a ball from Dean Headley which was not quite there. While it was conceivable that Tufnell would cost little more than one run per over, for Ramprakash to bowl his first 10 overs for three runs against West Indian batsmen was not. A sweeper on the cover boundary for the left-hander was the one concession to his novice status.

The first full tosses and long hops were beginning to appear when Ramprakash got the encouragement he needed, Roland Holder trying an intemperate shot which did not befit the son of a Moravian pastor. Already Holder had offered two chances to short leg, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul another close in, as England's new all-rounder pressed them hard.

Not since 1977-78 has a draw been played out in a Bridgetown Test. If England are to avoid a draw this time, their fielders will have to cling on better than they did yesterday to the chances generated by their spinners.

The game went further England's way when massive luck and Eddie Nicholls's decision awarded Angus Fraser a catch at second slip when the ball appeared to have hit Chanderpaul's bat then the ground.

Day 4: England can still seize victory

A BOLD and brilliant start by the new West Indian opening pair as they set out in pursuit of 375 to win the match and the series provided a finishing session of intense drama on the fourth day of the fifth Test yesterday evening, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

The West Indies need a further 304 today from 90 overs. Their confidence has been buoyed by an extraordinary over 15 minutes from the end which reduced England's still excellent chances of winning after Mike Atherton had declared earlier than expected at a point when his batsmen were in command.

Philo Wallace and Clayton Lambert had opened the West Indies second innings with another brutal assault on Andrew Caddick, Dean Headley and Angus Fraser, driving and pulling with brawny, uninhibited gusto until Phil Tufnell came on to restore some order.

They had reached 55 when in the 14th over Wallace was twice reprieved. First, running to the striker's end, he seemed to have been run out by a direct hit on the stumps to the non-striker's end by Alec Stewart from mid-on. The replay showed clearly enough that his bat was in the air over the crease when the stumps were broken but he was given not out by the third umpire, Halley Moore.

Two balls later Wallace swept Tufnell, who ought by now to have had at least two more wickets than he has in the match, to deep square leg, where Dean Headley, with an inexplicably casual piece of fielding, tried to take a comfortable catch by his shins and dropped it. The sun was behind him and there was no impression that he was initially unsighted. Two gross misfields followed, so England ended a day they had dominated, badly needing to regroup.

They should still win today if their spinners can repeat the excellent performance of Saturday, Mark Ramprakash in particular. But they will have to brace themselves for a very much better effort than this. It is another marvellous game, full of mistakes, but much credit is due already to Wallace and Lambert, who played the fast bowlers exceptionally well again.

If the West Indies reach 375, of course, the series would be theirs and that would be a bitter pill for England to have to swallow after the blaze of strokes from Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain which immediately preceded the declaration. Both the not-out batsmen looked surprised when Mike Atherton declared at a time when they were scoring at will. After even sessions had produced 85 from 31 overs before lunch and 86 from 28 before tea, 60 were added in only eight more at the start of the spectacular evening session.

If England are to capitalise, Middlesex's newly discovered spin twins are the most likely means of victory. With the pitch now dry and turning and the north-east trade winds still buffeting the ball about when a bowler gives it air, batting is not easy against a pair of spinners working together as efficiently as these two did on Saturday. No doubt, too, there will be occasional low bounce for England's trio of fast bowlers to exploit as they seek to set up a final showdown in Antigua at the end of this week.

Their batsmen prepared the way yesterday by scoring just fast enough in the first two sessions against steady West Indian bowling but occasionally fumbling ground fielding. Thorpe and Hussain then expertly piled on the pressure after tea when Thorpe, relishing the still mainly even bounce, hooked Curtly Ambrose four times to the mid-wicket boundary, three of them in one over.

England's running between the wickets all day was bold and disruptive and their whole confident approach a sharp contrast to the halting, directionless batting of the West Indian first innings. True to his firmly established ability to light a fire when the wolves are at his door, Atherton led the way with a positive, controlled innings of 64, which was just right for the circumstances as England built on their first-innings lead of 141 with an opening partnership of 101 in which Alec Stewart played no less well.

Atherton's was a timely performance in every way. He has admitted to an almost masochistic streak in his nature. He prefers to play his cricket on the edge. Obviously, there was nothing deliberate about the run of low scores - 16 Test innings without a fifty until yesterday - which had imperiled his position as England's opening batsman, but his refusal to become a smooth-talking provider of soundbites for a voracious media continues to irritate many, including some of the still photographers who, alone, noticed his brief, heat-of-the-moment V-sign towards Wallace immediately after the Barbados captain was out on Friday evening.

Headley's aggression towards the departing batsman was actually much more obvious, and as far as the West Indians are concerned, there was far more to blame in the way that England appealed for the bump ball to Stewart at second slip for which Shivnarine Chanderpaul was given out on Saturday.

If there was deliberate deception here, indignation was both understandable and deserved but I do not believe there was.

It is Atherton, not Headley or Stewart, who is the man that sections of the media are hunting. They disapprove of his continued refusal to become some plastic quote machine; of his Jardinesque hauteur in the age of the soundbite.

Having had his disagreements with Australian referees in the past, however, he was quickly absolved by this one, Barry Jarman, who effectively dismissed his unseen signal as part of the contemporary game.

If England win today and Atherton and his side have a good game in Antigua, he will not lose his job, unless he chooses to relinquish it or administrators tire of him.

It was not excessive aggression but admirably controlled bowling which enabled England to bowl the West Indies out for 262 in their first innings, despite further fallible wicketkeeping and catching. Mark Butcher, brilliant everywhere else in the field but too eager at short leg or silly point, missed a tricky chance from Chanderpaul off Ramprakash when 15 and an easier one from Roland Holder when nine. By then he was one of two short legs, but Ramprakash was turning the ball sufficiently at the time for an old-fashioned three-man leg trap not to be out of place.

Jack Russell's miss reprieved Chanderpaul, at 40, off the equally deserving Tufnell. The ball bounced after taking the edge but Russell at his best, which he has not been in this series, would have gathered it. There, however, Chanderpaul's luck ended and it was the clear bump ball to Stewart at second slip which ended his innings unjustly and ushered in the genuine tailenders. Ambrose alone managed serious resistance with a flurry of lofted drives.

Caddick, made to wait until last among the bowlers and occasional bowlers, responded with by far his best bowling of the tour and the whole attack could be pleased with the way that they came back from the blitz by the West Indies' openers on Friday evening.

Day 5: : England hopes washed away

HARD as they have tried, another opportunity for England to win a series in the West Indies seeped cruelly away in Bridgetown yesterday, much as it had in Trinidad on Graham Gooch's tour eight years ago, writes Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

A great recovery in the fifth Test came to nothing in the end as rain, the one thing no one had considered in this driest of Caribbean dry seasons, turned the promise of another thrilling day's cricket into anticlimax.

Overnight, with the West Indies needing 304 and England all 10 wickets on a turning pitch at the Kensington Oval, the wind dropped and the first pull of the curtains revealed the first serious rain on Barbados for three months. Only 18 overs and three balls were bowled before tea after expectation had turned to frustration throughout a morning of showers and drizzle. After further rain at the start of the evening session, the match was abandoned as a draw.

Both sides were therefore denied the opportunity to press on towards the victory they craved but for England the frustration was much the greater. Not only was theirs comfortably the better chance of success but, 2-1 down in the series, their need was greater too. A win next week in Antigua would produce a second successive drawn series with the West Indies, but that was not what they came here to achieve.

When, at last, play started 16 minutes after the end of the official lunch break, England did make just sufficient progress to keep their dream alive. In 18 overs between lunch and tea, Philo Wallace and Clayton Lambert fell to fast-medium bowling from the Southern End while Philip Tufnell, deprived of his breeze but not his accuracy, spun the ball menacingly with the Challenor Stand behind him.

Lambert tried to hook Angus Fraser in only the second over and toe-ended the ball to mid-on, where Dean Headley held on to the catch. Wallace, however, reached his first Test fifty with a magnificent straight six and played another thunderous drive back over Fraser's head before he went half forward to Andrew Caddick, taking over from Fraser for the 16th over of the day, and was trapped in front by a ball which skidded through.

In both the first and second innings the new West Indies opening pair had exceeded anything that the discarded Sherwin Campbell and Stuart Williams had scored on inferior pitches earlier in the series. The two hearty hitters deserved all credit for giving their side another rousing start the previous evening after England's declaration had left the West Indies requiring 375 to win.

Brian Lara had every incentive to concentrate but even he had some anxious moments during 14 watchful overs in which he was almost bowled by a shooter from Tufnell and twice erred outside the off stump in the moist atmosphere as Fraser and Caddick got sufficient movement to keep things interesting.

Lara's innate skill enabled him to hold things together through further interruptions as time ticked away. He and a reassuringly sound partner in Shivnarine Chanderpaul saw their team to tea without further mishap and another shower just as they were about to start again with a theoretical 48 overs still possible made a draw virtually certain.

It was good enough for Lara. He knows now that whatever the outcome of the sixth and final Test starting in Antigua on Friday, he is spared the possible embarrassment of being the first captain to lose a series to an England side in the Caribbean for 30 years.

England, for all their sloppy bowling and fielding the night before, had good reason to feel robbed. At least they have gained some increased self-esteem from this game, and, with Mark Ramprakash playing the innings of his life to date, they have taken another faltering step in the right direction. Few have been so obviously deserving of a man-of-the-match award.

The first-innings recovery by Ramprakash, Graham Thorpe and Jack Russell, and the authority shown by Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart, Mark Butcher, Nasser Hussain and Thorpe again in the second innings was confirmation that on good pitches their batting is as strong as anyone's. The greatest pity about yesterday's damp squib was that Ramprakash was denied the chance to underline what a developing asset his talent as an off-spinner may rapidly become for England. Even in the unaccustomed gloom yesterday, all was not gloom.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at
Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 17 Mar1998 - 10:23