Cricket: Headley and Caddick fail to learn lesson of first Test

HOW MICHAEL Atherton must have wished that he had stayed true to his instincts. He is a captain who always prefers to bat first and having had a good look at the pitch this morning, he was in two minds.

In the end, he was probably persuaded by the general opinion that if England bowled first it would give them their best chance of winning. If his new ball bowlers had found and kept to the right length and line he might even have enjoyed a second helping of lunch.

It seemed inconceivable that Dean Headley and Andy Caddick could again bowl as badly as they had done last week. But they did.

For the third time in succession, Headley started a Test innings off with a no-ball and then bowled consistently short. If Headley did not know his job was to try and imitate Angus Fraser's bowling a week ago, there is something wrong with his thinking and the chain of command. Surely, since the last Test ended, just about the only piece of advice he can have been given was to make sure he kept the batsmen on the front foot.

Perhaps he had allowed the tension to get to him and his nerves took over. None the less, one would think that a Test bowler would have worked out for himself some sort of fail safe mechanism. That might mean cutting his pace down and making sure that the ball ditched in the right place. But Headley went on as if unaware of what was needed.

There was no attempt by any of his colleagues, including his captain, to have a talk with him. Headley is an inexperienced Test cricketer and at this stage of his development needs careful handling.

In his first spell, Caddick was not quite as bad as Headley but he ploughed his way through all the colours of the cricketing rainbow. After 16 overs, the West Indies had reached 36 for no wicket and Caddick was brought back to bowl a second spell. His first ball was a beauty which left Stuart Williams and had him caught at first slip as he played forward.

Brian Lara leant elegantly into his first ball which was a juicy half- volley and stroked it through mid-off for four. Caddick seemed surprised, but he was probably the only man on the ground who was.

He came back for his third spell immediately after lunch. His first ball found the edge of Sherwin Campbell's bat and it sped away through Nasser Hussain at third slip. A single followed and then Caddick bowled a short one to Lara who pulled him most dismissively for four.

The next ball Caddick over-compensated and and another full half-volley was driven through mid-off to the boundary. This was followed by a push past square leg for two before a full toss was sent through mid-off for another four.

The new-ball bowlers should go back to school.