Cricket / West Indies Tour: Caddick acclaim all round: Ambrose lies in wait while England show familiar middle-order frailty

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The Independent Online
ON A day when Brian Lara trotted out a double century against Barbados in the Red Stripe Cup, England batted and bowled themselves to the verge of victory against a Leeward Islands, weakened by the absence of five Test players.

There is no doubt that England were lucky with the ball, but if Ian Salisbury, who ended with 4 for 37, might have been the recipient of more than his fair share, Andy Caddick who passed the bat with increasing frequency, bowled far better than his 2 for 30 would suggest. Caddick, in fact, was never far from the action all day, and it was his fighting stand of 70 with Jack Russell in the morning, that set England up for their bowling assault after lunch.

Although on the surface England continue to have a near-perfect start to their Tour of the West Indies, a biopsy of their batting order merely confirms the recent diagnosis - that it is sound at either end, but rotten in the middle. After a century opening stand on Friday between Michael Atherton and Mark Ramprakash, yesterday was the turn of Russell and Caddick, to show England's sickly middle-order, just what can be achieved with the bat.

Resuming the England innings, to a fanfare from Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' courtesy of Chikkey's disco in the main stand, both Russell and Caddick were soon down to business. Once confident that the pitch had slowed sufficiently, Caddick got his front foot down the pitch and played some thumping drives through the covers until he mistimed one off Hamish Anthony, and was caught by Warrington Phillip, lurking at backward point.

Caddick has impressed, with both bat and ball. Keen to erase memories of an undistinguished entry to Test cricket last summer, he has gone about both roles with a gusto many hope will one day afflict Chris Lewis. If he can maintain his form against the stronger opposition to come, Caddick - as long as some shin soreness (at present controlled by drugs) doesn't degenerate - is now a serious challenger for the all-rounder spot.

Russell, pugnacious as ever with that tennis player's shuffle he does between deliveries, cut and carved the quicker bowlers bringing up his 50, and the England 300, with a paddled hook for 4 off Hamesh Anthony.

Russell has not performed this well with the bat for some time, and he reckons it took a bad practice session to shake him into action. When he was finally out, caught at mid-wicket hoiking the left-arm spinner Phillip, he had batted nearly four hours and faced 191 balls.

This match, apart from being the first first-class game of the tour, is an important one for both sides and the West Indies selectors are here, in particular to watch is the Leewards acting captain and opening bat, Stuart Williams. A gifted stroke player, especially when driving the ball off the front foot, he froze in the first innings, but many believe he offers a more reliable option than the current opener, the erratic but exciting, Phil Simmons.

With Lewis seemingly doing his best to bring this selection about, by serving up a buffet of medium-pace half volleys, Williams shot to 24 before Salisbury, who had replaced Lewis, accounted for him with his fifth ball of the innings.

Williams was on to a short ball like a flash and pulled it out of the meat of the bat towards mid-on, where the telescopic arms of a leaping Andy Caddick, brought about a remarkable catch. Slices of luck often proving the turning point, Salisbury was twice blessed when another long hop was smashed by Lanville Harrigan straight to Matthew Maynard on the boundary at square leg.

It would be unfair to suggest that dross was all that Salisbury sent down. Watchful pad play, not the usual West Indian method of countering leg-spin, meant that he conceded few runs, and when he finally dropped a looping leg-spinner in the perfect spot, he picked up David Joseph neatly caught at slip by Lewis, off a defensive push.

With a combination of Steve Watkin and Graeme Hick, chipping in with the wickets of Clifford Walwyn and Ridley Jacobs, it was the return of Caddick bursting with early evening energy that had tomorrow's victory, firmly in the bag. Having bowled Anthony off a thin inside edge he was close to performing the mambo when umpire John Stevens upheld his lbw appeal, against Harwood Williams.

During the last hour, Salisbury, who had bowled unchanged since before tea, and who also went a long way towards proving that dismissing West Indians rarely obeys the laws of logic, began to get on top of his prey. The Leeward Islands still need two runs to make England bat again.

(Third day of four; Leeward Islands won toss)

LEEWARD ISLANDS - First innings 181 (C W Walwyn 65).

ENGLAND - First innings

(Overnight: 231 for 8)

R C Russell c S C Williams b Phillip. . . .56

A R Caddick c Phillip b Anthony. . . . . . 36

S L Watkin not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Extras (b5 lb8 w8 nb17). . . . . . . . . . 38

Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .312

Fall (cont): 9-296.

Bowling: Walsh 25-3-90-1; Weekes 20-5-44-2; Phillip 30.4-10-49-2; Maynard 18-2-65-2; Anthony 24-8-51-3.

LEEWARD ISLANDS - Second innings

*S C Williams c Caddick b Salisbury. . . . .24

L A Harrigan c Maynard b Salisbury. . . . . 12

C W Walwyn c Ramprakash b Watkin. . . . . . 30

H W Williams lbw b Caddick. . . . . . . . . 25

D Joseph c Lewis b Salisbury. . . . . . . . .2

R D Jacobs c Hussain b Hick. . . . . . . . . 5

H A G Anthony b Caddick. . . . . . . . . . . 8

L Weekes c Hussain b Salisbury. . . . . . . .1

W D Phillip not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

V A Walsh not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Extras. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Total (for 8). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

Fall: 1-35 2-61 3-83 4-86 5-94 6-113 7-118 8-120.

To bat: J C Maynard.

Umpires: P Whyte and J Stevens.

(Photograph omitted)