Cork makes England's champagne day

Second Test: Debutant's seven wickets ends sequence of 38 years without a win against West Indies at Lord's
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reports from Lord's

England 283 and 336 West Indies 324 and 223 England win by 72 runs

They were queuing up for souvenir scorecards here yesterday, and while it is not quite true to say that William Caxton was cranking away on the presses the last time England beat the West Indies here, a sequence of once every 38 years hardly qualifies as old hat. Raymond for Prime Minister? You can't entirely rule it out.

Since David Gower's side turned 0-1 into 1-1 in India in 1984-85, England have had no less than 11 opportunities to bounce straight back from defeat in the first Test of a series, and have responded with all the spring- heeled, rubber ball qualities of a cow pat. Not this time.

For all England's supposed shortfall in talent, it is a longstanding deficiency in the cardiac region that has mostly been responsible for a record that has made Mrs Hubbard's cupboard resemble Mike Gatting's larder, so it was appropriate that the architect of yesterday's decisive final thrust should have been Derbyshire's Dominic Cork.

Cork has always had a big heart, and question marks about his talent were largely the result of his taking his wickets on the green pastures of the County Ground, Derby, where, it is alleged, captains win the toss and elect to break. However, while this Lord's pitch was no friend of batsmen, it was Cork's deadly late outswing, allied to pumped-up aggression, which propelled him to the best bowling figures, 7 for 43, by any England player in his first Test.

However, it will also be argued (and probably no more vociferously than by a silvery-haired fox over two pints of Tetleys in a pub in Farsley) that when this victory is dusted down for forensic analysis, the fingerprints will belong to Raymond Illingworth.

It was the England chairman who overturned the original selection, placed a paternal hand on Alec Stewart's shoulder, and in that familiarly democratic way of his, whispered timidly into Alec's ear: "Now then, lad. Get those bloody gloves strapped on and let's hear no more about it."

The pivotal moment yesterday was always going to be what happened to Brian Lara, and after the West Indies had skated away with 34 runs off the first 31 balls in chase of the 228 they required off their nine remaining wickets, things were beginning to look a trifle ominous.

At that point, however, Darren Gough sent down an innocuous looking delivery, Lara's snick travelled fast and low, and a ball that would have landed five feet short of first slip was breathtakingly snaffled, left-handed, by the diving Stewart. Steven Rhodes is a better wicketkeeper than he looked last winter, but purely on Australian form, he would have got nowhere near it.

After that it was all Cork, and just as well for England. The two most likely candidates were Angus Fraser and Gough, but Fraser had one of those days when nothing would run for him, and Gough bowled in most places bar the right one. Cork, however, is a more imaginative bowler than is his nickname (as you would hope with a soubriquet like "Corky") and after a first spell of 3 for 23, was whistled up again to take the last four wickets either side of tea.

The one West Indian batsman to resist was, surprisingly, the inexperienced Sherwin Campbell, who was eighth out for 93 after an innings that contained long spells of block, with occasional bursts of bash. Campbell was Cork's fifth victim, caught behind off the inside edge after five hours of searching in vain - Lara apart - for someone to keep him more than fleeting company.

Cork's first wicket yesterday, with his eighth ball, was the invaluable one of that well-known limpet Jimmy Adams, and it was long odds yesterday against Lara getting out to a defensive push and Adams to a frenetic drive. Adams was caught at second slip by Graeme Hick, which was also a bonus in that on England's last visit to the Caribbean, Hick's inability to pouch any edge from a left-hander was in direct contrast to his flypaper mitts for the right-handers.

Richie Richardson's form is so abject that he was out for a duck playing across a rare delivery from Cork that did nothing other than go straight- on, and Cork and Fraser bowled so well either side of lunch that the West Indies played out seven consecutive maidens.

Keith Arthurton, in fact, had still not scored when he turned his 40th delivery straight into the hands of forward short leg, where Paul Weekes of Middlesex was substituting for Graham Thorpe, off the field with a throat infection. This gave Cork figures of 3 for 7 in 45 balls, and gave England the real conviction that they would go on to win the match.

Gough's value to the side is that even when he is not bowling well he has a Bothamesque ability to pick up wickets with nothing deliveries, as he did when Junior Murray was athletically caught at short leg by Weekes, and all that remained for England was to remove Ottis Gibson's dangerous hitting qualities from the occasion as quickly as possible. Cork duly obliged.

Twenty minutes after tea, Courtney Walsh's edge to Stewart gave victory to England by 72 runs, and very soon there were corks everywhere. The champagne has usually gone off before England get their hands on a bottle, but for once they have made their mark on a series before it is too late.

"I would like to point out to you chaps," Sir Raymond of Farsley said afterwards, "that the muddled thinking worked out very well." Ah well. If only Illy can just start shedding the self-doubt that has plagued him all his life, who knows what further triumphs may lie ahead?