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Best of the Tests: Eng vs WI at Lord's


England_West_Indies_Test_CricketThe Test season in England is reaching its denouement with the deciding third and final Test against the West Indies at Lord’s. The two teams have met 20 times at the Mecca since their first encounter back in 1928, with England winning nine Tests to the West Indies’ four. As the mouthwatering decider reaches its finish, let us look back at a few classic instances of Anglo-Caribbean duels at the iconic venue.

The Test club gets its fourth member (First Test, 1928)

The West Indies became the fourth Test-playing side as they took on England at Lord’s under Karl Nunes. This match also marked the Test debut of future England skipper Douglas Jardine. Ernest Tyldesley’s career-best 122 took the hosts to 401, which was enough for a comfortable win by an innings and 58 runs. Joe Small (52) was the only West Indian to cross fifty, in the second innings, as the newbies could muster no more than 177 and 166.

Those two little pals of mine (Second Test, 1950)

Prior to this Test, the West Indies had played ten times in England, losing seven – five by an innings - and drawing three. Allan Rae’s 106 was the cornerstone of the West Indies’ 326, to which England could reply with only 151. The wreckers-in-chief were off-spinner Sonny Ramadhin (5/66) and left-arm spinner Alf Valentine (4/48), two 20-year-olds playing in their second Test. In fact, they had both made their first-class debuts earlier in the same year itself.

Clyde Walcott added to England’s misery with a superb 168* that enabled captain John Goddard to declare at 425/6. Facing a massive target of 601, England did slightly better courtesy of Cyril Washbrook (114), but the margin of defeat was a resounding 326 runs. Ramadhin took another 6/86, while Valentine chipped in with 3/48. This historic win led calypsonian Lord Beginner to pen his famous calypso ‘Cricket, Lovely Cricket!’ with a rich tribute to the spin twins.

A classic for the ages (Second Test, 1963)

In terms of a contest, this gripping Test was the antithesis of the series opener at Old Trafford, which the West Indies won by ten wickets. In fact, all four results were possible when Wes Hall ran in to bowl the final ball of the match, with England needing six runs from their last pair. The West Indies posted 301 after Frank Worrell elected to bat, with Fred Trueman (6/100) shining for the hosts, and then eked out a four-run lead on the first innings, thanks to Charlie Griffith (5/91).

The West Indies’ second innings was built around a fine 133 from Basil Butcher, who came in at 15/2 and took the total to 229. Trueman (5/52) collected yet another fifer. Set 234 to win, England ended the fourth day at 116/3, but Colin Cowdrey had his wrist broken by a rising ball from Hall. Brian Close (70) kept England in the hunt even as the bowlers struck regularly. In the last over, Cowdrey came in at the non-striker’s end with two balls left, which were played out by David Allen to ensure the draw. Remarkably, Hall bowled unchanged throughout the final day.     

Barbadian cousins to the fore (Second Test, 1966)

Lancashire paceman Ken Higgs (6/91) helped restrict the visitors to 269 before Tom Graveney (96) and James Parks (91) ensured a lead of 86. When their fifth wicket fell early on the fourth day, the West Indies were leading by just nine. However, captain Garfield Sobers (163*) and his cousin David Holford (105*) put on an unbeaten 274 for the sixth wicket to ensure safety. Set 283 to win, England ended at 197/4 with Colin Milburn (126*) making a brave attempt.

Bomb threat stops play (Third Test, 1973)

England needed a win to draw the series, but were eventually flattened by a dominating West Indian display. Captain Rohan Kanhai (157), Gary Sobers (150*) and Bernard Julien (121) all cashed in as the Windies declared at an imposing 652/8. The hosts were bowled out for 233 and 193, with Keith Boyce collecting match figures of 8/99. In a dramatic incident, the ground had to be evacuated on the third afternoon following a bomb threat, which later turned out to be a hoax.

Gordon gorges on hapless England (Second Test, 1984)

This was the second Test of the series that would end in a historic 5-0 ‘blackwash’. Malcolm Marshall helped himself to 6/85 in the first innings to limit England to 286, with opener Graeme Fowler scoring a patient 106. The hosts however edged a lead of 41, thanks to an excellent return of 8/103 from Ian Botham. Vivian Richards scored 72 before getting out leg-before to ‘Beefy’, his mate at Somerset. The West Indian quicks then reduced England to 36/3 in the second essay.

Allan Lamb (110) and Botham (81) revived their team by adding 128 for the fifth wicket, enabling a declaration at 300/9 early on day five. Faced with a target of 344, Gordon Greenidge went on to play one of the most astonishing innings seen. The fearless opener pulverized the English attack with 214* off 242 balls, with 29 fours and two sixes, and shared in an unbroken stand of 287 with Larry Gomes (92) as the West Indies galloped to a nine-wicket victory.

Dominic Cork’s debut to remember (Second Test, 1995)

England turned the tables after a nine-wicket loss at Headingley with a vital win. Despite Angus Fraser’s 5/66, England trailed by 41 after being bowled out for 283. Robin Smith (90) ensured that the West Indies were set a target of 296. The visitors began the final day at 68/1, but soon wilted against debutant pacer Dominic Cork (7/43) to lose by 72 runs. Cork’s return bettered John Lever’s 7/46 against India in 1976-77 as the best innings figures on debut for England.

Four innings in a single day (Second Test, 2000)

This was the 100th Test played at Lord’s, and the pulsating climax was fitting for the occasion. The pressure was on England, having endured a hiding by an innings and 93 runs at Edgbaston. The West Indies cruised to 162/1 after being put in, before Darren Gough and Dominic Cork took four wickets each to help bowl them out for 267 early on the second day. Old warhorses Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose then took four each as well, skittling the hosts out for 134.

A most extraordinary passage of play then followed. The English pacers, led by Andrew Caddick (5/16), blew the West Indies away for 54. England batted an over before stumps, resulting in the first instance of parts of all four innings in a single day of a Test. England were 109/2 at tea on the third day, only to crash to 160/8, thanks to Walsh (6/74). It was Cork who eased the tension, scoring 33* and hitting the winning boundary to seal a dramatic two-wicket win for his side.


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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