Cork's dynamic debut destroys West Indies

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The Independent Online
Dominic Cork, a 23-year-old fresh-faced all-rounder from the Potteries, bowled himself into cricket history here yesterday with a 7 for 43 return in his first Test that brought England a 72-run victory, their first over West Indies at Lord's since 1957.

In statistical terms it was the fifth-best Test debut of all time - following Albert Trott (Australia), Alf Valentine (West Indies), Bob Massie (Australia) and Narendra Hirwani (India) - and the best by an Englishman, but the figures are less important than the injection of joie de vivre into an England side depressed by recent defeats and sustained criticism.

Cork, born in Newcastle under Lyme, arrived at Lord's last week vying for a place in the side with his much more experienced Derbyshire colleague, Phil DeFreitas. England gambled on Cork's youth and ambition, and he rewarded the selectors with 53 runs and one wicket in the first innings and his record analysis in the second.

Flushed, still wearing his sun cream, he bubbled: "I'd bowled well from the Nursery End two weeks ago and mentioned it to the captain. The breeze was with me, the ball swung and everything went right for me; I got the nicks, I got the lbws."

Cork now emerges, with Darren Gough, as a successful graduate of the A-team system: "I've been on four A tours and the last one, in India, taught me a lot. I probably grew up in India."

Cork learned his cricket in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire League, playing with his father and two brothers for the Betley village club. Two years ago, playing for Derbyshire, he won a gold award at Lord's in the Benson and Hedges final and had been on the selectors' minds since as a potential Test all-rounder.

Cork has taken wickets consistently with his fast, medium swing bowling all this season and he revealed that a chat with Malcolm Marshall, the great West Indies' all-rounder, now a freelance bowling consultant, in May, helped him develop an inswinger to match his already potent outswinger.

Ray Illingworth, the chairman of selectors, described Cork's performance as "brilliant", adding: "He bowls so close to the stumps that even the slightest movement makes it a good ball." He went on to praise all the bowlers, saying of Angus Fraser "he's a different man from last summer when he looked tired. They all did well and some of 'em are flat out in the dressing-room. That's effort."

Mike Atherton, the captain, added: "We lost the first Test at Headingley because we played 30 to 40 per cent below our capability. In this match, even had we lost, I would have been satisfied. The team gave everything.

"We played tight through a tense match. I knew that if we could get a couple of early wickets today we would win. Stewie [Alec Stewart] took a magnificent catch; Angus Fraser kept Sherwin Campbell (who scored 93) bottled up for so long that he became frustrated. "Digger" [Peter Martin] also kept it tight and we were able to attack through Corky, who had a wind perfect for swing bowling, and Darren Gough."

Richie Richardson, the West Indies captain, said the tourists had expected to win: "But Cork bowled magnificently and we kept losing wickets. The bowling was always going to dominate on the final day and it would have been a different match had we won the toss and batted first. "

England now level the series 1-1, with four matches to be played. Atherton was appointed for the first three only but his re-appointment, in the next Test, now seems a formality. When the question was put to Illingworth he responded: "We haven't even discussed it yet" and then, placing his hand on Atherton's shoulder, added: "Have we, Mike ?"


J J Ferris* 7-37 v South Africa (Cape Town 1891-92)

D G Cork 7-43 v West Indies (Lord's 1995)

J K Lever 7-46 v India (Delhi 1976-77)

A V Bedser 7-49 v India (Lord's 1946)

J Langridge 7-56 v West Indies (Old Trafford 1933)

* J J Ferris was making his debut for England after appearing in eight Tests for Australia.