Cricket: England's prospects in pieces: Tufnell bowls himself into reckoning for Barbados Test despite conceding the winning runs

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

West Indies Board XI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .313 and 172-2

West Indies Board XI win by 8 wickets

WHEN England took the field yesterday morning, in bits and bobs and dribs and drabs, they looked less like a tight, professional formation than the last few stragglers out of the pub - symbolic of a team who have finally fallen apart. They flew to Barbados last night for the first of two back-to-back Test matches, although it would now be an act of kindness to load them on to a direct flight to Heathrow.

Inasmuch as it is possible in 90-degree heat, the West Indian Board XI polished them off yesterday morning without breaking sweat, although it is now difficult to think of England's prospects in Barbados and Antigua without breaking into a sweat of the cold variety.

It took the home team 28.5 overs to knock off the 125 runs required, 11 minutes before lunch, and if England are past masters of the batting collapse, they put their all-round talents on display as well yesterday with a nice example of the bowling collapse. With 20 runs needed to win, and 18 for his own century, Stuart Williams spanked five consecutive balls from Philip Tufnell to the boundary to end the match.

Debacle would not be too strong a word for this eight- wicket defeat, and the only thing England threw into yesterday's effort was the towel. The management are also as wiped out as the players, judging from the previous day's performance when, during the height of England's batting farce, M J K Smith attempted to summon Graham Thorpe from his hotel sick bed via a press box phone.

It later transpired that the reason for the hotel receptionist's vague response to Smith's entreaties to get Thorpe to the phone was because Thorpe was staying at a different hotel. So where were Smith and the rest of the team staying? Why, the same hotel as Thorpe, of course. England had switched accommodation before arriving here, and this (possibly pardonably, given the hapless circumstances) had slipped the tour manager's mind.

Thorpe was back on the field yesterday (his tonsillitis diagnosis having been downgraded to a 48-hour throat virus) although Jack Russell replaced him in a hotel bed somewhere on the island, having contracted the same ailment. Given England's batting paralysis, the prognosis for Russell for the next two Tests might have been to stay between the sheets, although the case for retaining Russell in Barbados actually strengthened while he was lying in bed.

Alec Stewart's performance with the gloves ensured that England also kept up their current form in the fielding department as well as batting and bowling, dropping two catches yesterday (both off Williams) and generally performing as though he had neither the ability nor the inclination to keep wicket again.

This latest disaster began from the cozy position of 140 for 1 just before tea on the third day, and England's potential to lurch from triumph to disaster is almost beyond belief. They either open with a century stand, or, as has been the case four times in their last six innings, zero. In the first innings here, they went from 257 for 2 to 319 all out and on Monday lost their last eight wickets for 25.

Ironically enough, despite watching his final five balls disappear to the boundary, Tufnell was England's best bowler in this game, and while that was not an especially difficult achievement, it may yet be enough to get him back into the Test team on Friday. Devon Malcolm's prospects of joining him, on the other hand, were illustrated by Malcolm bowling only two overs yesterday before the coup de grace.

'Malcolm is definitely under consideration for the Test,' the team manager Keith Fletcher said afterwards. If this was a serious statement (and Fletcher admitted that he rated Malcolm's current fitness as no higher than 60 per cent) then it is presumably a comment on how highly he regards the rest of his bowlers.

Fletcher's predecessor, Micky Stewart, said on the 1990 tour here: 'The West Indies don't bat like us - they like to hit the ball,' which was perhaps not the way he intended it to come out, but none the less a hint that Stewart regarded the way they play here as slightly unfair. Yesterday, as the home batsmen flogged England all around the ground, Fletcher might have agreed with him.

Steve Watkin and Alan Igglesden were yesterday's wicket- takers, Watkin with a half-volley, Igglesden with a good one, but Williams - despite his two extra lives - can scarcely have treated a club attack with so much contempt. His 102 not out came at precisely a run a ball, and he struck 15 fours and a six.

Fletcher's current expression is a combination of sunken eyes and world-weary smile, and he had little option other than to trot out 'got to keep going' noises. He did, though, say that he would be having a 'few long chats' with the new chairman of selectors when he gets back, although given Illy's reputation for Yorkshire canniness, he may already have his resignation letter in the post, and have opened up a 'Bring Back Lord Ted' T-shirt stall in his winter hideout in Torremolinos.

(Final 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 313 (R I C Holder 116; D E Malcolm 4-81, P C R Tufnell 4-87).

ENGLAND - Second Innings 165 (G A Hick 74, M R Ramprakash 67; R N Lewis 4-51).

WEST INDIES BOARD XI - Second Innings

(Overnight: 47 for 0)

S C Williams not out. . . . . . . . . . . .102

P A Wallace c Smith b Watkin. . . . . . . . 40

P V Simmons c Stewart b Igglesden. . . . . .19

S L Campbell not out. . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Extras (b6). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Total (for 2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172

Fall: 1-81 2-130.

Did not bat: * R I C Holder, R D Jacobs, C O Browne, A C Cummins, E C Antoine, O D Gibson, R N Lewis.

Bowling: Malcolm 6-0-30-0; Igglesden 8-0- 52-1; Tufnell 14.5-5-63-0; Watkin 8-2-21-1.

Umpires: J W Holder and G Johnson.

(Photograph omitted)

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