Boiling takes the steam out of West Indies

Durham 364-8 dec & 259 West Indies 462-5 dec & 16-1 Match drawn
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reports from Chester-le-Street

Durham 364-8 dec & 259 West Indies 462-5 dec & 16-1 Match drawn

While Durham supporters put their long resistance on the last day down to the gritty determination of their tailenders, some incomprehensibly poor West Indies bowling provides more than half of the explanation.

Durham went into lunch at 104 for 6 and were all out 25 minutes after tea for 259 when rain intervened and allowed only six more overs. However, missing out on the pounds 2,500 they receive for each victory in the Tetley Challenge matches was of less concern for the West Indies than the hamstring and knee injuries which prevented Winston Benjamin from taking the field.

With Kenny Benjamin already doubtful for the second Test because of a side strain, Ottis Gibson has a good chance of making his Test debut at Lord's on Thursday.

Durham's hero was their off-spinner, James Boiling, who has not made the happy start to his career in the north-east he anticipated when he left The Oval. Now, he came in at 65 for 5 and was ninth out for 69 at 248 for 9.

His high score before this was 34 and in his upright, rather studious manner he should score more runs in the lower order. He concentrates hard, watches the ball on to the bat and played some firm strokes, the best of which was a hook for six off Gibson. Boiling received good support, first from Neil Killeen and then from Alan Walker. Killeen, who has been chosen for the Under-19 England side to play South Africa, has the makings of a useful seam bowler. His batting is an important extra element at a time when selectors like to squeeze a few runs out of everyone.

Killeen put on 69 in 20 overs with Boiling before he chipped leg-spinner Rajindra Dhanraj to mid-on. Walker and Boiling then put on 66 for the eighth wicket, all of them taking full advantage of some dreadful spin bowling from Carl Hooper and Dhanraj and, briefly, Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Had this been a horse race, the West Indies would have been the subject of a most unsympathetic stewards' inquiry. Ian Bishop and Gibson took the first three Durham wickets before a run had been scored yesterday morning and at lunch the county were six runs on with four wickets standing.

In the afternoon, the West Indies barely went through the motions and one could only wonder at Richie Richardson's thinking. While not wishing to over-exert players before a Test, this sort of inept performance can only harm morale and reputation. A crisp, decisive victory must have been the best preparation for Lord's on Thursday.