Cricket: Hussain run-out undoes England

England 127 & 321 West Indies 500-7 dec West Indies win by an innings and 52 runs
THERE is never such a thing as a foregone conclusion with this England side. With a draw seemingly in the bag, following a fighting hundred from Nasser Hussain and an equally gritty offering from Graham Thorpe, England once again showed their soft underbelly by losing a flurry of wickets after tea.

With the series already lost, the situation was not one of gross national importance, merely personal pride. Nevertheless, the manner of their demise after Hussain and Thorpe had added 168 for the fourth wicket was one that seems to be endemic to Michael Atherton's side whenever they play abroad. Given that showers washed out the morning session, too, and that the pitch was dead, the collapse was careless and unwarranted.

When tea was taken, half an hour later than normal to accommodate the extra hour, a very different picture existed as Hussain and Thorpe had yet to be parted. But with the pair apparently booked in until the close, the wretched and sloppy mistake that cost Hussain his wicket happened, and West Indies' heartfelt hopes of a 3-1 win were alive again.

If ever there was a disincentive for Michael Atherton to stay on as captain this was it. He has endured many disappointments in his 52 Tests as captain, but collapses such as this have not been the norm, and only Trinidad here four years ago sticks in the mind.

It was Hussain's sixth Test century and his first against the West Indies. After three frustrating tours here - he broke his hand in the one here nine years ago, and did not get picked for the Test matches last time - the moment was clearly an emotional one, and there were feelings of anger as well as joy when he threaded Carl Hooper backward of cover for the all- important run.

Although it was a rearguard action, the partnership had echoes of the one between these two at Edgbaston last year. On that occasion Hussain scored a double hundred and Thorpe a single when Australia were put to the sword and beaten.

But if it was no less worthy of merit - despite being an exercise in damage limitation - it ended in ridiculous circumstances when Thorpe, calling Hussain through for a risky single to midwicket, hesitated before running his partner out.

It was a wasteful end to a stoic partnership that looked watertight ever since it had begun almost five hours earlier the previous afternoon. Having virtually given up, the home side were suddenly perked up, a condition that intensified when Dinanath Ramnarine skidded one through Mark Ramprakash's defences as he played back.

Expecting turn, Ramprakash ended up playing outside the line of the ball, which scuttled straight on. If it was an error of judgement, it was later joined by one from the umpire, Steve Bucknor.

Weariness does not only affect the players and Bucknor's decision to give Thorpe not out to Junior Murray's brilliantly anticipated catch, when he clearly touched the ball on to his pad, was a mistake. One, however, that umpire Cyril Mitchley made up for when he gave Jack Russell out leg before to a ball from Walsh whose angles were all wrong.

Thorpe, the run-out never far from his mind, soldiered on, clearly fretful as wickets tumbled at the other end. Dean Headley, his nerves jangling, edged Ramnarine to Murray behind the stumps.

Andy Caddick, following a brief period of resistance went next, another victim of Walsh, as the fast bowler was five shy of equalling Malcolm Marshall's West Indies record of 376 wickets when the innings began, took his second wicket. A third soon followed as Fraser, confronted by the dreaded throat ball, gloved meekly to Chanderpaul in the gully.

In the end, Walsh got within a single wicket of Marshall, the last man, Tufnell, fending yet another short ball to Lambert at short leg as the Antigua Recreation Ground erupted in joy.

It was a frenetic finale to the day that, once the morning rain had been mopped up, began immediately after lunch. With the new ball due one over after the start Lara, somewhat surprisingly, kept faith with his two spinners.

A curious tactic, given that both Walsh and Ambrose had spent the morning with their feet up, it was not entirely out of character. In fact throughout this whole series Lara has rarely opted for the obvious when more obtuse options are available.

He did not persist with his folly for long, however,and four overs later the gangling figure of Ambrose was back running in to bowl with a shiny red new ball in his hand.

Following a loosener, which Hussain cut gleefully for four, Ambrose, partnered at the other end by Franklyn Rose, soon warmed to his task to have both batsmen playing and missing. This was the first wave Hussain and Thorpe had to withstand if England were to have a chance of saving the game, a cause helped earlier by the rain which washed out the morning's play.

They almost did not hold firm either, an outside edge from Thorpe narrowly failing to carry to Lara at first slip. But it was not all grim survival and there were runs, too, as Hussain cut Rose and Ambrose, the latter high over the slips, to the boundary.

Later, Ambrose had the pair ducking as well as he switched tactics. With no grass or damp to exploit, it was back to the intimidatory tactics of old as a variety of rib ticklers and throat balls kept the batsmen on their toes.

With an attacking field, and a pitch now close to comatose, it also proved costly and the boundary count increased dramatically in comparison to when the spinners had bowled the previous evening. In the end it was a combination of slow and fast that brought England to their knees.

St John's scoreboard

Final day; West Indies won toss

ENGLAND - First Innings 127 (D Ramnarine 4-29).

WEST INDIES - First Innings 500 for 7 dec (C L Hooper 108no, C B Lambert 104, P A Wallace 92, B C Lara 89).

ENGLAND - Second Innings

(Overnight: 173 for 3)

*M A Atherton lbw b Ambrose 13

60 min, 40 balls, 1 four

A J Stewart c Wallace b Hooper 79

173 min, 132 balls, 9 fours

M A Butcher c Murray b Ambrose 0

8 min, 6 balls

N Hussain run out 106

G P Thorpe not out 84

M R Ramprakash b Ramnarine 0

R C Russell lbw b Walsh 9

D W Headley c Murray b Ramnarine 1

A R Caddick c Murray b Walsh 0

A R C Fraser c Chanderpaul b Walsh 4

P C R Tufnell c Lambert b Walsh 0

Extras (b6 lb4 w1 nb14) 25

Total (147.2 overs) 321

Fall: 1-45 (Atherton) 2-49 (Butcher) 3-127 (Stewart).

Bowling: Walsh 31.20-7-80-4; Ambrose 20-5-66-2; Rose 11-2-39-0; Ramnarine 46-19-70-2; Hooper 39-18-56-1.

Progress: Fourth day: lunch: 39-0 (Atherton 13, Stewart 23) 11 overs. 50: 72 min, 16.2 overs. Rain stopped play 1.20-1.24pm 56-2 (Stewart 35, Hussain 5) 18.2 overs. 100: 142 mins, 32.2 overs. Tea: 123-2 (Stewart 78, Hussain 28) 38 overs. 150: 198 min, 52 overs. Close: 173-3 (Hussain 54, Thorpe 18) 79 overs. Fifth day: Rain delayed start until 12.45pm. New ball taken after 83 overs at 174-3. 200: 323 min, 88.3 overs. 250: 394 min, 102.4 overs.

Stewart's 50: 118 min, 89 balls, 4 fours. Hussain's 50: 165 min, 157 balls, 6 fours. 100: 341 min, 289 balls, 14 fours. Thorpe's 50: 234 min, 185 balls, 3 fours.

Umpires: S A Bucknor and C J Mitchley.

TV Replay Umpire: P Whyte.

Match Referee: B N Jarman.