Cricket / Fifth Test: West Indies made to pay as Smith rediscovers form: Hosts quick to make inroads after Atherton and Smith set third-wicket record with partnership of 303

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West Indies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .593-5 dec

England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .442-6

ROBIN SMITH, the batsman accused of tapping out too many numbers on his mobile phone to make any decent numbers on a scoreboard, and Michael Atherton, who is still trying to work out how to use his new fax machine, never mind get involved in any entrepreneurial wheeler-dealing, guided England towards apparent safety here yesterday with a record-breaking partnership spanning seven hours.

They took England to within 21 runs of the follow-on avoidance figure of 394 with only two wickets lost, and even though the West Indian attack again displayed its capacity for suddenly changing gear by reducing England to 442 for 6 in reply to 593 for 5 declared, the home side not only has to bat again, but also take 14 more wickets on the final day. England supporters should not be nervous. Only a team capable of being bowled out for 46 can lose from here.

England's Arthur Daley, batting in a helmet rather than a trilby, made a Test-best 175, and Smith and his captain figured in a partnership of 303 (eclipsing England's previous third-wicket best against the West Indies of 264 between Len Hutton and Wally Hammond at The Oval in 1939) before Smith was the victim of a dubious leg before decision against Kenneth Benjamin.

Smith's 175 and Atherton's 135 also represented the first time that two England batsmen have made centuries in the same innings against the West Indies since Alan Knott and Tony Greig at Headingley in 1976, and the first in the Caribbean since Greig and Dennis Amiss in Georgetown in 1974.

For Atherton, it was the culmination of a personally satisfying tour, while for Smith, having been accused of having too many fingers in too many pies, it was a satisfying case of removing two of those digits and raising them to his detractors.

One of them has been his own team manager, Keith Fletcher, who said on the rest day that Smith was too busy making money to remain properly focused on his cricket. If this was a case of the old guru attempting to fire him up, it turned out to be a decent ruse, as Smith had only made 143 runs in the entire series before this innings.

Smith was hurt enough to deny that he was out here earning a bit of pin money from a part-time day job for England while otherwise expanding his business empire, but while his nervous demeanour at the crease certainly has more to do with a desire to succeed than a dip in the Financial Times Index, Fletcher's remarks were not without substance.

art of the problem is that Smith is not well equipped by nature to cope with the world of agents and deals. He rarely knows how to say no to anything, and is regarded as such a Mr Nice Guy - not just in his own dressing-room either - that his team-mates' applause when he reached three figures for only the second time in an overseas Test was more enthusiastic than it normally is on these occasions.

Another reason for Smith's loss of form might be the absence of his guide and mentor through life, his brother Chris. The elder Smith, who really is a hard-nosed businessman, is now in Perth as Western Australia's chief cricket executive, and he knew all about his younger brother's talent a long time ago. In 1986, before Robin had been picked for England, Chris placed a lot of money (he has never revealed how much) at odds of 40-1 on Robin playing 50 Test matches, and this match was the one in which he finally collected.

Robin, however, fully expected to be dropped after his 49th Test in Barbados, and had the luck not gone with him, he would not have got anywhere near the score he did. Apart from being dropped in the covers on the third day, he was also caught (when 34) off a Courtney Walsh no-ball, and Walsh was near suicidal yesterday morning when he plucked out Smith's leg stump with yet another no-ball.

The West Indies took the second new ball after 16 overs of the day's play, by which time England had moved on from 185 for 2 to 231. However, Atherton in particular played Ambrose not only with comfort but with panache, and the West Indies quickly fell back on Smith's Achilles' heel, attempting to twiddle him out with Jimmy Adams's left-arm spin. However, Adams is so ordinary in this department that Smith played him with the proverbial stick of rhubarb.

He was finally out shortly after tea, and Graeme Hick, who had been padded up for seven hours and five minutes, would have gone first ball had there been a third slip to intercept a nervous edge that instead scuttled away for four.

Ambrose, predictably, was brought back for Hick, but it was Atherton who fell to him after a vigil of almost nine hours, edging to the wicketkeeper with only one more run required to avoid the follow-on. Hick fell shortly after, stuck on the back foot and bowled by one from Kenneth Benjamin which kept a shade low, and Thorpe then became the first Test victim of Shivnarine Chanderpaul's leg spin when he was caught off bat and pad.

BRIAN LARA will make his debut for Warwickshire in their opening County Championship match of the season next Thursday. He will play against Glamorgan at Edgbaston after being released from a commitment to appear in a six-a- side tournament in India. Lara's work permit has been sent by courier to Antigua for collection by club chairman M J K Smith who is also manager of the England side.


(Fourth day; West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES - First Innings 593 for 5 dec (B C Lara 375, S Chanderpaul 75 not out, J C Adams 59).

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 185 for 2)

* M A Atherton c Murray b Ambrose . . . . . 135

(539 min, 383 balls, 13 fours)

R A Smith lbw b K C G Benjamin . . . . . . .175

(418 min, 315 balls, 26 fours, 3 sixes)

G A Hick b K C G Benjamin . . . . . . . . . .20

(42 min, 28 balls, 4 fours)

G P Thorpe c Adams b Chanderpaul . . . . . . .9

(53 min, 30 balls)

R C Russell not out . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

(70 min, 67 balls, 1 four)

C C Lewis not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

(32 min, 28 balls)

Extras (b3 lb9 nb18) . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Total (for 6, 493 min, 119 overs) . . . . . 442

Fall: 1-40 (Stewart), 2-70 (Ramprakash), 3-373 (Smith), 4-393 (Atherton), 5-401 (Hick); 6-417 (Thorpe).

To bat: A R Caddick, A R C Fraser, P C R Tufnell.

Bowling: Ambrose 27-10-50-1 (5-0-9-0 7-3-11-0 6- 2-15-0 9-5-15-1); Walsh 28-7-84-0 (nb10) (5-0-23-0 7-2-31-0 6-1-15-0 10-4-15-0); W K M Benjamin 30- 9-73-0 (nb3) (8-3-22-0 5-2-11-0 5-2-8-0 8-1-27-0 4- 1-5-0); K C G Benjamin 32-7-89-4 (nb2) (8-2-25-2 3-2-1-0 2-0-8-0 5-1-21-0 14-2-34-2); Chanderpaul 17-1-69-1 (nb6) (1-0-6-0 2-1-8-0 2-0-8-0 5-0-22-0 7- 0-25-1); Adams 14-1-61-0 (5-0-17-0 3-0-19-0 1-0-8-0 3-0-16-0 2-1-1-0); Arthurton 2-1-4-0 (one spell).

Progress: 200: 276 min, 67.5 overs. New ball taken after 76 overs at 231 for 2. 250: 347 min, 83.3 overs. Lunch: 282 for 2 (Atherton 105, Smith 117) 89 overs. 300: 397 min, 95.2 overs. 350: 479 min, 114.4 overs. Tea: 367 for 2 (Atherton 131, Smith 171) 119 overs. 400: 550 min, 130.1 overs.

Atherton 50: 229 min, 157 balls, 5 fours. 100: 346 min, 263 balls, 12 fours. Smith 50: 132 min, 98 balls, 9 fours, 1 six. 100: 264 min, 185 balls, 16 fours, 2 sixes. 150: 376 min, 279 balls, 25 fours, 2 sixes.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and D B Hair.

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(Photograph omitted)