Cricket: England take advantage of West Indies' tactical errors

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The Independent Online
TACTICALLY, the West Indies have got most things wrong in this Test. Their troubles can be traced back to their selection, their decision to bowl rather than bat first, to their inexplicable bowling choices, and to their shuffling of the batting order.

If they had paid heed to present form - and to the opinion of every bar- stool critic the length and breadth of the Caribbean - the selectors could not have picked Ian Bishop. He is now a shadow of what he once was, a victim of two serious back injuries that have caused him to alter his action, and was always going to be the weak link.

If a fourth fast bowler was necessary, the younger, more promising Franklyn Rose and Mervyn Dillon were surely the worthier candidates.

Had the selectors taken note of the preceding matches at Kensington Oval this season, they would have surely not chosen an additional fast bowler, but the leg-spinner Dinanath Ramarine. The previous wicket-takers on the ground were those who deal in flight and turn like the left-armers Winston Reid and Neil McGarrell, the leg-spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo and the off- spinner Carl Hooper.

The record of Kensington's three previous matches should also have been sufficient to persuade Brian Lara to use his luck on winning the toss to make first use of an ideal pitch. Guyana amassed 435 after they were sent in by Barbados last month. Barbados themselves got 472 for 6 declared going in first against England only a few days before the Test.

It will inevitably be claimed that E ngland's early plight of 55 for 4 vindicated Lara's decision, but the pitch was blameless on that account. It was good enough to allow for the recovery mounted by Mark Ramprakash and Graham Thorpe.

Once on the field, Lara has again puzzled with the use of his bowlers. At Bourda, it was his delay in calling on Curtly Ambrose when England were in danger of the follow-on. Here, he kept Hooper waiting until after lunch on the second day while Thorpe, whom he had dismissed twice earlier and frequently troubled, was engaged in his record stand with Ramprakash. As soon as he was introduced, Hooper had a close lbw against Thorpe turned down, and soon had him caught at slip.

When Phil Tufnell and Ramprakash were tying the West Indies batsmen in knots, Lara chose to demote Hooper, the most accomplished antidote to spin, below the more restricted Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Roland Holder. By the time Hooper belatedly made his entrance, England had secured their stranglehold and even his usually freescoring ability was stifled as he remained an hour and three-quarters for nine.