THINGS change fast in this part of South America, but not as fast as the cricket match here at the Everest club, where England eventually drew a match they perhaps should have won. Destined for a boring draw by mid- afternoon, a batting collapse of epic proportions, precipitated by Phil Tufnell and Robert Croft, saw Guyana lose 10 second- innings wickets for 60 runs.
Needing 77 runs in a minimum of 15 overs was a classic one-day denouement. However, with England pressing for victory on a crumbling pitch and the Guyana spinners bowling outside leg stump to a packed leg-side field, a begrudging stalemate was reached. With five overs left, and England, still requiring 44 runs to win, both sides shook hands on a draw.
Considering the excitement set up by Croft and Tufnell's heroics with the ball, it was a disappointing way to finish, though one not predicted a few hours earlier when Guyana were sailing along on 71 without loss.
Mind you, after the opening morning, batting had not been easy on this pitch, and chasing runs last would not have been an exception. To this end the home captain, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, should have opened the bowling with spin from both ends. Instead, he opened with Colin Stuart, whose opening over cost 12 runs, to give England the best possible start.
Having got off to a flyer, England's nerves should have been calmed. However, with Neil McGarrell extracting sharp turn with the new ball, panic ensued and, after Mike Atherton had been bowled giving himself room against the left-armer, both Jack Russell and Mark Butcher ran themselves out.
It could have been three in a row but, with Nasser Hussain well short of his ground, a throw from cover missed the stumps. With John Crawley unable to bat due to sinusitis, it was Mark Ramprakash, who had earlier failed to get his century when England batted on in the morning, who joined Hussain for the final overs as the game petered out to a draw.
The excitement at the fag end of the day had been set up by some marvellous spin bowling from Croft and Tufnell. Bizarrely, considering the pitch was dry and broken, neither spinner appeared threatening until Adam Hollioake, fielding at midwicket, caught Nicholas de Groot as the opener clipped Phil Tufnell off his legs.
As so often happens after a lengthy stand, one wicket brings two or three and Tufnell struck again almost immediately when he had the left-handed Clayton Lambert caught at leg gully by Atherton.
Sensing he was about to be upstaged after his fine showing in the first innings, Robert Croft weighed in with two wickets of his own. Bowling once more into the sea breeze, it was Croft's dipping flight that brought him success, as Keith Semple prodded off bat and pad to short leg.
Eight runs later, Ramnaresh Sarwan followed as he drove uppishly to midwicket, where Alec Stewart, fielding for Crawley, took the catch. When Travis Dowlin was out, lbw playing back to Tufnell, and McGarrell was bowled by Croft just after tea, Guyana were 109 for 6, just 54 runs ahead. The draw did not look the certainty it had appeared two hours earlier.
A brief flurry by Chanderpaul, who struck Tufnell for successive fours, gave the Guyana innings impetus. An over later, Tufnell had his revenge when he had the Guyana captain caught by Hussain at slip.
Darren Gough was yesterday finally ruled out of England's tour of the West Indies, despite a successful operation on a hamstring injury. The Yorkshire bowler has been given as much time as possible to get fit for the domestic season.
Final day; Guyana won toss
GUYANA - First Innings 184 (V Nagamootoo 55; R D B Croft 6-50).
ENGLAND - First Innings
(Overnight: 200 for 6)
M R Ramprakash c V Nagamootoo
b Stuart 77
R D B Croft b McGarrell 32
A P Cowan not out 13
C E W Silverwood b McGarrell 0
P C R Tufnell b McGarrell 0
Extras (b8, lb5, w7, nb2) 22
Total (111.2 overs) 239
Fall (cont): 7-219, 8-231, 9-231.
Bowling: King 20-7-50-1; Stuart 24-5-49-1; McGarrell 40.2-11-71-7; M V Nagamootoo 24-9-52-1; Chanderpaul 1-0-1-0; Dowlin 2-0-3-0.
GUYANA - Second Innings
C B Lambert c Atherton b Tufnell 35
N A de Groot c Hollioake b Tufnell 35
K F Semple c Hollioake b Croft 3
R Sarwan c sub b Croft 1
*S Chanderpaul c Hussain b Tufnell 34
T Dowlin lbw b Tufnell 3
N C McGarrell b Croft 5
V Nagamootoo c Croft b Tufnell 1
M V Nagamootoo lbw b Croft 4
C E L Stuart lbw b Croft 7
R D King not out 0
Extras (b2, lb1) 3
Total (55.3 overs) 131
Fall: 1-71, 2-72, 3-76, 4-83, 5-86, 6-109, 7-119, 8-120, 9-124.
Bowling: Silverwood 6-2-22-0; Cowan 7-3-13-0; Croft 26.3-6-51-5; Tufnell 16-4-42-5.
ENGLAND - Second Innings
M A Butcher run out 10
*M A Atherton b McGarrell 6
R C Russell run out 1
N Hussain not out 7
M R Ramprakash not out 2
Extras (b5, lb2) 7
Total (for 3, 10 overs) 33
Fall: 1-20, 2-21, 3-21.
Bowling: Stuart 2-0-12-0; McGarrell 5-1-9-1; M V Nagamootoo 3-2-5-0.
Umpires: P Monfort and E Hinds.