Cricket: Fraser the key to hope of victory: England seek 350 total

ENGLAND have made such a remarkable comeback from the trauma of their 46 all out in Trinidad that it is enough to make regular watchers break out into a cold sweat. If it is at all possible to make a total porridge out of a second-innings lead of 222 with seven wickets and two days in hand, they are undoubtedly the one side capable of pulling it off.

If winning becomes a habit, then so too does losing, and England are registered junkies in this particular department. History beckons (the West Indies are unbeaten at the Kensington Oval since 1935) and it is now as much about bottle as ability.

This is a pitch that shows no signs of the wear and tear and increasingly treacherous bounce of the previous three Tests, and given it is almost as flat as most of England's bowling, it is difficult to imagine how many runs Michael Atherton considers constitutes a decent safety net. Nothing less than 400 most probably.

In fact, when Atherton ponders the bowling at his disposal, he will not feel totally relaxed with anything under 600. He must have seriously considered locking Angus Fraser inside his hotel bedroom during the rest day and sending down to room service for several tons of cotton wool. Fraser's career-best 8 for 75 was a herculean effort, but he was almost on his knees at the end of it and it is not an overstatement to say that if he has nothing left to give, England will not win.

If Atherton gets enough runs to play with, Philip Tufnell will have more scope for tossing the ball up than he has thus far, but his largely defensive role has been thrust upon him by the chronic inability of Chris Lewis and Andrew Caddick to locate any semblance of line and length.

Caddick is at least as puzzling a case as Lewis in that he has the ability to become a good Test match bowler, but he has the unfortunate deportment of a man who thinks he knows it all already. As long as he thinks he is Richard Hadlee, rather than merely looking like him, he will not become the bowler he is capable of becoming.

Happily for England, the player so keen to learn that he even commits the ultimate sacrifice of sitting down to listen to Geoffrey Boycott dripping words of wisdom into his ear is still at the crease. Since he made his debut tour here four years ago, Alec Stewart has turned himself from a flashy but flawed strokeplayer into a high-class Test batsman.

It was his dad who said, on that same 1990 tour, that 'the West Indies don't play like us - they like to hit the ball', but with the exception of Brian Lara at full throttle, Stewart hits the ball more sweetly than any West Indian.

He made a century on his birthday in the first innings, and is now within 38 runs of joining three of cricket's immortals. Only three batsmen have ever made two centuries in the same Test match against the West Indies, Sunil Gavaskar, Doug Walters and Greg Chappell, but Stewart is now a shade of odds-on to become the fourth.

Without Stewart and Atherton, England's batting would have been a total disaster on this tour. Robin Smith was out on Sunday in precisely the same way he was out in the warm-up game in Grenada, lbw playing no shot, and it is not just because he has shaved off his moustache that he is unrecognisable from the player he was here four years ago.

Graeme Hick, it has to be said, has been all too familiar thus far - tense, jittery, introspective - and the reason for this may not so much be fear of fast bowling (even though he likes it whizzing past his visor less than some) as fear of failure.

Hick's desire to prove himself at Test level, plus the suspicion that he is not one of life's natural unwinders, has stifled the uninhibited strokeplay that made him such a prodigy at lower levels, but he has now made 52 not out against a West Indian attack that has clearly gone down a couple of gears and a century here might be the making of him.

In fact, the West Indian attack has failed to cause too much ducking and weaving even though they are delivering the ball from less than the regulation 22 yards. Stewart, when 39, was caught off one of a mind-boggling 26 no-balls in the innings so far (50 in the match) and if England pull it off, it will be an incredible feat assisted by incredible feet.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star