Captain provides perfect answer

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The Independent Online
If the West Indies win this Test, as they certainly should, they will be indebted as much to their much-maligned captain Richie Richardson as their fast bowlers.

When Richardson arrived in the middle 40 minutes into the day yesterday, Dominic Cork had removed the two most-prized wickets in the West Indies order, Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams and once more the inconsistent batting threatened to undermine all the work of the the fast bowlers on the opening day.

Richardson himself has been awfully out of sorts with the bat since his return to Test cricket last April against Australia following his six- month lay- off last year for burn-out.

It was essential for him and his team that he remain to hold the innings together, particularly after the rampant Sherwin Campbell became Cork's fourth victim at 156.

The events of the opening day had gone a long way to reviving West Indian spirits, which had been at such a low point following the second Test loss at Lord's, the expulsion of Winston Benjamin and the humiliation of an innings defeat at the hands of Sussex.

At the start, only 43 in arrears, one wicket down and Lara on his favourite English ground, they would have anticipated a feast of runs in the sunshine. As it was, when Junior Murray departed just after lunch, 198 for 6 represented a shaky situation. For some time the lower order has given very little to the West Indies totals and, with Kenny Benjamin replacing Ottis Gibson here, it was even less dependable than usual. But Richardson's level-headed presence and obvious return to something like his best inspired first Ian Bishop and then Benjamin, normally an unreliable No 11.

Had 198 for 6 become 230 all out, as was quite likely, the West Indies would have lost their advantage. Instead Bishop remained for an hour and 20 minutes adding a critical 62 with his captain and Benjamin stayed almost an hour for another 32.

Richardson's influence was just what is expected of a leader and went a long way to enhancing a reputation which has taken something of a battering in recent months.

There was another vital benefit from the lengthy lower-order resistance. It carried the West Indies innings into the final session and reduced the number of overs their fast attack, limited by the injury to Curtly Ambrose, needed to bowl. It meant that Courtney Walsh and Bishop could go hell for leather without having to bother about who would back them up when they tired. They return this morning fresh again knowing that another couple of quick wickets will finish off England.

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