Cricket / Fifth Test: England run for cover as Lara joins the 300 club: West Indies take stranglehold with a solo performance of batting genius as tourists are punished for their previous audacity

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England

A FLAT pitch, even flatter bowling, and a batting genius made for a historic innings in the fifth Test here yesterday, when Brian Lara became the 12th batsman in history to score a triple century in a Test match. Lara's brilliant 320 not out dominated a West Indian total of 502 for 4, and as many feared, England are having their bottoms soundly spanked for their impertinence in Barbados.

No one who watched Lara's near 11-hour epic over the weekend remains in much doubt that the 24- year-old Trinidadian will ultimately take his place among the greats. One of the greatest was Gary Sobers, who was feted in a lunchtime ceremony yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of his Test debut, and then returned to his seat to watch Lara resume his attack on his own individual Test record of 365 not out.

Batting such as Lara's transcends partisanship, and of an estimated 4,000 with affiliations to England on the ground, only the dishevelled 11 in the immediate vicinity of Lara's blade were not enraptured enough to want him to bat for the entire five days.

However, the West Indies will probably declare by lunchtime today - more than enough time for Lara not only to break Sobers' record, but to do to it what Bob Beamon did to the Olympic long jump mark. Lara is not the sort to settle for ordinary centuries (his two others are 277 and 167) and at 320 not out he currently holds the eighth-highest individual score in Test cricket.

If the outfield here had been the same as in Barbados, rather than the sort which would have provided a decent meal for a herd of cows, Lara could probably have added another 100 on to his total. He said on Saturday night, when he was 164 not out, that he regarded 200 as small beer, and nothing less than 300 was on his mind when he set off again yesterday morning.

As one of 11 children, he was brought up in an atmosphere of productivity (runs in the family, you might say) and England mostly looked as though they were bowling for a run-out. This is what happened to him in Sydney last winter when he had made 277. His appetite for batting is so gargantuan, that he even had a net during the lunch break in the middle of his 167 in the second Test in Georgetown.

They will probably take less pleasure in this innings in Nottinghamshire (who turned him, or rather his agent's asking price of around pounds 40,000, down) than in Warwickshire, who have signed him for next summer, and are doubtless preening themselves over their keen eye for a bargain at the moment.

As the West Indian total climbed to 437 for 4, it was hard to believe that they were 12 for 2 after the first eight overs of the game, and had only hobbled to 49 for 2 by lunch. However, while England's fielders were keeping each other amused with jovial banter on Saturday morning, when Lara was cruising through the two hundreds yesterday, they were at each other like squabbling children.

After Lara had played what was close to the shot of his innings (a late cut for four off Angus Fraser that was too close to a mickey-take for the bowler's liking) when Alec Stewart misfielded the next ball at long leg, Fraser let fly at the hero of Barbados with a volley of expletives. Stewart was not impressed.

For all Lara's brilliance, England also contributed to their own problems, beginning with a dropped slip catch by Graeme Hick on Saturday, offered by Jimmy Adams at a time when the West Indian recovery was only in its embryonic stage. This was Hick's fifth consecutive Test match drop, and it may be significant that they have all been off left- handed batsmen.

There has also been some pathetic bowling, particularly from Chris Lewis - preferred, on the flimsiest of evidence, to Devon Malcolm - and Andrew Caddick. If Lewis made a name for himself as a nude pin-up last summer, Caddick saves his own posing for when he is on the field.

He spends most of his time in the pseudo-macho position, glaring at the batsman in mid-pitch, and gave a theatrical performance when he had Keith Arthurton caught behind after Arthurton had contributed 47 in a stand of 183 with Lara. This wicket was with a good delivery, which is worth mentioning for its rarity value.

There is also more to being a good cricketer than contributing on the field. Caddick appears to spend more time inside the press box than the dressing-room, mainly making free telephone calls, and when England returned to the field yesterday after the second of four frustrating rain squalls, 10 players emerged from the pavilion, while Caddick sauntered out from the opposite end of the ground.

Lara's role as the dominant partner was mirrored by the morning session, in which he scored 61 runs to Arthurton's 16, although it as measure of how good a find Shivnarine Chanderpaul is that his strokeplay lost nothing by comparison.

The crowd went potty at each landmark, but not half as potty as Curtly Ambrose inside the West Indian dressing-room when Lara reached his double-century. This landmark earned Lara a pounds 50,000 sponsor's bonus for the team pool, and as Ambrose needs a few bob to pay his various Barbados fines, his delight was perhaps understandable.

----------------------------------------------------------------- HIGHEST TEST INNINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 365* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .G S Sobers WI v Pak (Jamaica, 1957-58) 364 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .L Hutton Eng v Aus (The Oval, 1938) 337. . . . . . . . . . . . . Hanif Mohammed Pak v WI (Barbados, 1957-58) 336* . . . . . . . . . . . . . .W R Hammond Eng v NZ (Auckland, 1932-33) 334. . . . . . . . . . . . . .D G Bradman Aus v Eng 9 (Headingley, 1930) 333. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .G A Gooch Eng v India (Lord's, 1990) 325 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A Sandham Eng v WI (Jamaica, 1929-30) 311. . . . . . . . . . . . . .R B Simpson Aus v Eng (Old Trafford, 1964) 310* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .J H Edrich Eng v NZ (Headingley, 1965) 307 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .R M Cowper Aus v Eng (Melbourne, 1965,66) 304. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .D G Bradman Aus v Eng (Headingley, 1934) 302 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .L G Rowe WI v Eng (Barbados, 1973-74) 299*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .D G Bradman Aus v SA (Adelaide 1931-32) 299 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .M D Crowe NZ v SL (Wellington, 1990-91) 291. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I V A Richards WI v Eng (The Oval, 1976) 287. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .R E Foster Eng v Aus (Sydney, 1903-04) 285* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .P B H May Eng v WI (Edgbaston, 1957) 280* . . . . . . . . . . . .Javed Miandad Pak v Ind (Hyderabad, 1982-83) 278. . . . . . . . . . . . .D C S Compton Eng v Pak (Trent Bridge, 1954) 277 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .B C Lara WI v Aus (Sydney, 1992-93) -----------------------------------------------------------------

SCOREBOARD FROM ST JOHN'S

(First and second days; West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES - First Innings

P V Simmons lbw b Caddick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

(33 min, 27 balls)

S C Williams c Caddick b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

(26 min, 17 balls)

B C Lara not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .320

(648 min, 465 balls, 39 fours)

J C Adams c sub (Hussain) b Fraser . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

(247 min, 164 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes)

K L T Arthurton c Russell b Caddick. . . . . . . . . . . . .47

(246 min, 184 balls, 5 fours)

S Chanderpaul not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41

(146 min, 110 balls, 5 fours)

Extras (lb3 nb21). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

Total (for 4, 678 min, 157 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . .502

Fall: 1-11 (Williams), 2-12 (Simmons), 3-191 (Adams) 4-374 (Arthurton).

To bat: J R Murray, W K M Benjamin, C E L Ambrose, K C G Benjamin, * C A Walsh.

Bowling: Fraser 36-4-103-2 (nb13) (8-2-12-1 6-0- 23-0 6-0-17-1 8-2-20-0 8-0-31-0); Caddick 39-8- 114-2 (nb1) (8-4-12-1 5-0-15-0 5-0-15-0 11-4-25-0 4-0-27-1 6-0-20-0); Tufnell 38-8-105-0 (nb1) (10- 4-16-0 5-1-13-0 8-3-29-0 2-0-5-0 11-0-38-0 2-0-4- 0); Lewis 27-1-117-0 (nb10) (6-0-18-0 4-0-29-0 4- 0-18-0 5-1-21-0 5-0-22-0 3-0-9-0); Hick 17-3-60-0 (6-1-33-0 2-1-2-0 7-0-55-0 2-1-5-0).

Progress: First day: 50: 130 min, 30.2 overs.

100: 194 min, 45.2 overs. 150: 230 min, 53 overs. 200: 297 min, 67.2 overs. 250: 356 min, 82.3 overs. New ball: 83 overs, 253-3. Close: 274-3 (Lara 164, Arthurton 25) 90 overs. Second day: 300: 441 min, 101.0 overs. 350: 512 min, 118.5 overs. Lunch: 351-3 (Lara 225, Arthurton 38) 119 overs. 400: 548 min, 127.5 overs. Rain stopped play 1.59pm. Early tea taken 437-4 (Lara 273, Chanderpaul 28) 135.5 overs. Restart 2.34pm. RSP 2.50-3.25 449-4 (Lara 279, Chanderpaul 31) 139 overs. 450: 604 min, 139.3 overs. RSP 3.27-3.47 450-4 (Lara 279, Chanderpaul 32) 139.3 overs. RSP 3.52-4.15 455- 4 (Lara 283, Chanderpaul 33) 140.3 overs. 500: 673 min, 155.2 overs.

Lara's 50: 154 min, 121 balls, 7 fours. 100 232 min, 180 balls, 16 fours. 150 327 min, 240 balls, 22 fours. 200: 440 min, 311 balls, 27 fours. 250: 515 min, 377 balls, 32 fours. 300: 610 min, 432 balls, 38 fours.

Adams' 50: 203 min, 127 balls, 1 four, 2 sixes.

ENGLAND: * M A Atherton, A J Stewart, M R Ramprakash, R A Smith, G A Hick, G P Thorpe, R C Russell, C C Lewis, A R Caddick, A R C Fraser, P C R Tufnell.

Umpires: D B Hair and S A Bucknor.

(Photograph omitted)

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