Cricket / First Test: Arthurton's majesty leaves England behind: West Indies recover from poor start to pin tourists' bowlers back after Maynard propels Atherton's men to some respectability

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The Independent Online
BRIAN LARA's status as something close to a demigod in his native Trinidad is apparently not respected by everyone on the island, as Lara discovered last Thursday when he was invited to hand over his hire car at gunpoint.

However, unless England can arrange to have Lara himself hijacked, and pretty smartly at that, the most relevant gunplay during this series will be the rifle-crack of a cricket ball leaving the middle of Lara's bat.

After the West Indies' slump to 23 for 3 had given England a glimmer of being able to defend a hopelessly inadequate total, Lara and and the no less fluent Keith Arthurton gave England's attack a brutal going-over yesterday afternoon.

Lara made a brilliant 83, and Arthurton, another left-hander with flashing strokeplay, went on to make his second Test century in 16 matches as the home team's 238 for 4 gave them a lead of three runs to take into the third day.

The 25-year-old Lara, who broke the West Indies' Red Stripe Cup record this season with 715 runs at an average of nearly 80, was in all sorts of bother against Malcolm early on.

However, Lara's exaggerated squinting at the crease suggested that he was having an optical problem, and once the physio had run on to treat him with eyedrops, Lara began seeing it like a medicine ball, and, under withering assault, England's discipline in the field came close to falling apart.

Both Lara and the 29-year- old Arthurton, only the third player from the small island of Nevis to represent the West Indies, were particularly fluent through the off-side, although England were so wayward in line, that there were plenty of leg-side pickings on offer too. Malcolm's figures went through the roof, but at least he occasionally looked like taking a wicket, which is more than can be said for Chris Lewis.

After Lara and Arthurton had put on 144 at a run a minute, Mike Atherton threw the ball to Graeme Hick more in desperation than expectation, but Lara was bowled round his legs sweeping at Hick's first ball. However, Arthurton sailed majestically on, and if he has a reputation for being cocky, against this sort of bowling he will have plenty to be cocky about over the next couple of months.

It had all begun well when Desmond Haynes was beautifully caught by Graham Thorpe at first slip in Malcolm's second over, and Phil Simmons was caught behind driving at Caddick. Then, when Malcolm had Matthew Maynard moved to deep backward square leg to tempt Richie Richardson into the hook, the West Indian captain hit it straight to him.

On the basis that they don't play too much cricket in Antarctica, it seems a touch incongruous to find the Kingston Daily Gleaner monitoring the progress of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, but if they can go downhill as fast as England's batsmen did over the weekend, put your money on Jamaica I for the gold medal.

By the standards of England batting collapses in recent years, 121 for 0 to 234 all out was a fairly routine affair, and it was a not unfamiliar story against the type of attack that is well used to removing one can from the bottom of a tidy supermarket display, after which the whole lot goes clattering across the floor.

What made this one so depressing was the fact that it was no so much the customary case of Curtly Ambrose and death by high velocity bullet, as Kenneth Benjamin and collective suicide by water pistol. After Atherton and Alec Stewart (in their first Test match opening partnership) had taken England to the Saturday afternoon drinks break, Stewart's dismissal was the first of 10 wickets to go for 112 runs.

Robin Smith, nervous starter though he is, could not have been more thoroughly paralysed if he had looked up and seen Medusa coming in to bowl, Hick dragged on against the part-time left-arm spinner Jimmy Adams, and the stroke that Thorpe was attempting when he was clean bowled would have made Malcolm curl up in embarrassment.

Lewis's careless flick to square leg was almost in the same category. It was entirely typical for England both to pick Lewis, on no conceivably hard evidence, and to jettison their plan of going into this match with a spinner. If they lose this game, they will probably have deserved it.

England yesterday lost their last three wickets for 25 runs in 40 highly eventful minutes, which included Kenneth Benjamin getting a warning from the home umpire Steve Bucknor for bowling two bouncers in an over to Alan Igglesden.

England's collapse was all the more irritating in that 350 would have been a decent total on a pitch of uncertain pace and bounce. The surface is as dark and shiny as a tap dancer's shoes, with enough cracks to suggest that it will get more uneven as the match goes on. So might the match itself.

SABINA PARK SCOREBOARD

(England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings

* M A Atherton c Murray b K Benjamin. . . . . . . . 55 (227 min, 189 balls, 3 fours) A J Stewart c Murray b K Benjamin. . . . . . . . . .70 (192 min, 118 balls, 10 fours) G P Thorpe b K Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 (125 min, 69 balls, 2 fours) R A Smith b Walsh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 (5 min, 6 balls) G A Hick b Adams. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 (79 min, 65 balls, 3 fours) M P Maynard lbw b K Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . 35 (99 min, 68 balls, 3 fours) R C Russell lbw b K Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . .0 (3 min, 4 balls) C C Lewis c Adams b Ambrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 (35 min, 27 balls, 1 four) A R Caddick c Adams b K Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . .3 (29 min, 27 balls) A P Igglesden not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 (29 mins, 16 balls) D E Malcolm run out (Arthurton-Murray). . . . . . . .6 (4 min, 5 balls, 1 four) Extras (b2 lb5 w4 nb4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Total (421 min, 98.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . 234

Fall: 1-121 (Stewart), 2-133 (Atherton), 3-134 (Smith), 4-172 (Hick), 5-172 (Thorpe), 6-172 (Russell), 7-194 (Lewis), 8-209 (Caddick), 9-227 (Maynard), 10-234 (Malcolm).

Bowling: Ambrose 22-8-46-1 (6-4-13-0; 3-0- 10-0; 5-1-7-0; 4-2-2-0; 4-1-14-1), Walsh 23-6-41- 1 (7-2-11-0; 6-0-21-0; 5-1-5-1; 5-3-4-0), K Benjamin 24-7-66-6 (nb4, w1) (6-3-15-0; 8-1-22-2; 6- 2-13-2; 4-1-16-2), W Benjamin 19.1-7-43-0 (4- 0-17-0; 5-3-6-0; 6-3-11-0; 4.1-1-9-0), Adams 10- 1-31-1 (nb1) (4-0-10-0; 6-1-21-1).

Progress: First day: 50: 82 min, 20 overs. Lunch: 79-0 (Atherton 27, Stewart 48) in 30 overs. 100: 161 min, 39.4 overs. Tea: 139-3 (Thorpe 6, Hick 0) in 56 overs. 150: 289 min, 67.1 overs. 200: 367 min, 85.5 overs. Close: 209-7 (Maynard 24, Caddick 3) in 90 overs. Stewart's 50: 209 min, 172 balls, 3 fours.

Atherton's 50: 144 min, 97 balls, 7 fours.

WEST INDIES - First Innings

D L Haynes c Thorpe b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . 4 (14 min, 13 balls, 1 four) P V Simmons c Russell b Caddick. . . . . . . . . . 8 (18 min, 10 balls, 1 four) * R B Richardson c Maynard b Malcolm. . . . . . . .5 (29 min, 13 balls) B C Lara b Hick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 (186 min, 131 balls, 11 fours) K L T Arthurton not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 (273 min, 198 balls, 10 fours, 2 sixes) J C Adams not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 (111 min, 69 balls, 3 fours) Extras (lb2 w1 nb1). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Total (for 4, 319 min, 72 overs). . . . . . . . .238

Fall: 1-12 (Haynes), 2-12 (Simmons), 3-23 (Richardson), 4-167 (Lara).

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

Bowling: Malcolm 12-1-71-2 (6-1-31-2; 6- 0-40-0), Caddick 17-2-53-1 (nb1) (7-2-10-1; 6-0-25-0; 4-0-18-0), Lewis 17-3-54-0 (nb1, w1) (6-1-31-0; 7-2-17-0; 4-0-6-0), Igglesden 16-5-28-0 (8-2-20-0; 8-3-8-0), Hick 10-2- 30-1 (3-0-12-1; 6-1-18-0; 1-1-0-0).

Progress: Second day: Lunch 48-3 (Lara 20, Arthurton 10) 14 overs. 50: 73 min, 14.1 overs. Rain stopped play 12.56 to 1.17 at 58-3 (Lara 28, Arthurton 12) in 16.3 overs. 100: 145 min, 30.2 overs. Tea: 133-3 (Lara 58, Arthurton 57) in 36 overs. 150: 191 min, 40 overs. 200: 258 min, 56.4 overs.

Lara's 50: 109 min, 82 balls, 6 fours.

Arthurton's 50: 116 min, 71 balls, 8 fours. 100: 234 min, 166 balls, 10 fours, 2 sixes.

Second day: Innings closed 10.43pm.

Umpires: I D Robinson and S A Bucknor.

Match Referee: S M Gavaskar.

(Photograph omitted)

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