Cricket: Clueless England nosedive to another embarrassment: Tourists collapse again after Hick and Ramprakash make stand of 140

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England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .319 and 165

West Indies Board XI . . . . . . . . .313 and 47-0

ENGLAND'S visit to the Caribbean is beginning to resemble not so much a cricket tour, as a high-class vaudeville act from a troupe of travelling court jesters. As they shed their last eight wickets for 25 runs yesterday, and the tour manager came scrambling into the press box during the height of the carnage to make an SOS phone call back to the hotel in a vain attempt to rouse tonsillitis-victim Graham Thorpe, it very nearly brought tears to the eyes.

The eight-wicket debacle took place in no more than an hour and a half after England had been proceeding with uneventful tranquility at 140 for 1, and it left the home side - effectively a below-strength West Indian 2nd XI - with 172 runs to win. With their overnight total standing at 47 for 0, and a whole day remaining, this they are odds-on to do.

Even for matches as apparently low-key as this, it is worth turning up for England's cock-up potential, and this one was right out of their very top drawer. It even included the obligatory run-out comedy, this time leaving Philip Tufnell standing in mid-pitch with a bemused look on his face, and England's innings ended with Devon Malcolm's middle stump travelling half-way back to the wicketkeeper, and Thorpe croaking from his bed that he was unfit to travel anywhere.

M J K Smith had eventually dashed back to the hotel personally to speak to Thorpe, which he managed via the hotel's house phone from the lobby, but by that time it was too late. And so, far from leaving this picturesque island after popping in for a confidence refit, England will now head off for back-to-back Test matches with an outfit that makes Fred Karno's army look like the SAS.

Robin Smith, promoted to open in an attempt to avoid the leg-spinner Rawl Lewis, and thereby boost his own punctured confidence, was lbw to the fifth ball of the innings without offering a shot, although Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick then effected what appeared to be permanent repairs with a partnership of 140.

From that point, however, the wheels fell off with a velocity that was startling even to veteran England watchers. Hick pulled a long hop straight to midwicket, Matthew Maynard made his customary cameo appearance before spooning to cover, Ramprakash was caught behind swishing, Alec Stewart was caught behind blocking, and Nasser Hussain slogged one straight up in the air.

It was at this point that Smith dashed into the press box, but even before he had left it, Tufnell had departed amid scenes of great crowd hilarity. Steve Watkin was then caught at silly point prodding at a looping ball from Lewis, and Malcolm duly bagged a pair.

Earlier, Malcolm had finished the Board XI's first innings with four wickets, but he was typically expensive, his wickets were largely the result of mopping up the tail, and he looks no closer to being match fit for Barbados on Friday than he was before the start of the game.

Tufnell also took four wickets, although he also took some stick, not least off one of the local umpires, Delton Holder. Tufnell had apparently upset him on Sunday by snatching away his cap after an over containing one of his 12 no balls in the innings, and Holder informed Tufnell yesterday that he could go and find someone else's pocket to put it in while he was bowling.

When the West Indian openers went in with eight overs of the day remaining, they heaped further humiliation on England by apparently believing they could make their 172 before the close of play, and Malcolm and Alan Igglesden were smashed to all parts of the ground. The match announcer promised cut-price admission for today's play, presumably based on the evidence that another 125 runs should not detain us for much more than half an hour.

SCOREBOARD FROM ST GEORGE'S

(Third day of four: WI Board XI won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 319 (M R Ramprakash 91, A J Stewart 65, G A Hick 59; R N Lewis 5-95).

WEST INDIES BOARD XI - First Innings

(Overnight: 260 for 5)

* R I C Holder c Hussain b Tufnell . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116

C O Browne c Ramp'kash b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

A C Cummins c Hick b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

O D Gibson c sub b Malcolm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

R N Lewis not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

E C Antoine lbw b Tufnell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Extras (b1 lb1 nb14) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313

Fall (cont): 6-271 7-273 8-273 9-286.

Bowling: Malcolm 18-2-81-4; Igglesden 23-3-84-0; Tufnell 29.4-7-87-4; Watkin 12-1-43-2; Hick 5-0-16-0.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

R A Smith lbw b Cummins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

M R Ramprakash c Jacobs b Gibson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67

G A Hick c Wallace b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

M P Maynard c Browne b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

N Hussain c Lewis b Gibson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

* A J Stewart c Jacobs b Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

S L Watkin c Wallace b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

P C R Tufnell run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

A P Igglesden not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

D E Malcolm b Gibson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

G P Thorpe absent ill

Extras (lb6 nb9). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .165

Fall: 1-0 2-140 3-155 4-159 5-162 6-162 7- 164 8-164 9-165.

Bowling: Cummins 9-1-33-1; Antoine 8- 0-41-0; Gibson 16-7-22-3; Lewis 20-7-51- 4; Simmons 5-0-12-0.

WEST INDIES BOARD XI

Second Innings

S C Williams not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

P A Wallace not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

Extras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Total (for 0) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

To bat: P V Simmons, * R I C Holder, S L Campbell, R D Jacobs, C O Browne, A C Cummins, E C Antoine, O D Gibson, R N Lewis.

Bowling: Malcolm 4-0-23-0; Igglesden 3-0-24-0; Tufnell 1-1-0-0.

West Indies Board XI need 125 runs for victory.

Umpires: J W Holder and G Johnson.

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