BARBADOS in February just about shades Bridlington or Bognor as a desirable place to be, but any travel agent foolish enough to wave a holiday brochure in the general direction of an England cricketer stands enough chance of getting battered around the head with it to send for a batting helmet.
England have not won a Test here since George V was on the throne, and when they last played Barbados on this ground in 1990, they were in such a state that Graham Gooch was in plaster, David Gower was whistled up from the press box to play, and after losing two wicketkeepers with bruised fingers, David Bairstow, on tour with Yorkshire, aborted a trip around the Bridgetown rum distillery to help them out.
Yesterday, England would have preferred a day's batting practice on a mild pitch instead of a day in the field getting barbecued in near 90- degree heat, and if they were not as weary as they might have been at the end of it, this was largely because most of the ball retrieving was done by the spectators.
England stuck to their task well enough to take six wickets while Barbados rattled up a first-day total of 289, but deliveries that might have met with the MCC coaching manual were given such merciless treatment by batsmen who looked upon almost every ball as a half-volley or a long hop, that the boundary count was impressive even on as small a Test ground as this. At lunch, 78 of Barbados's 90 runs had been scored without the batsman having to move out of the crease, and by stumps, 182 runs had come from fours and sixes.
Having inserted the opposition in all three of their Red Stripe Cup matches on this ground, and conceded 1,063 first-innings runs in the process, Barbados were not about to be as benevolent again for England's visit, although a decent enough day looked on the cards when Desmond Haynes was out for only six in the fifth over of the day.
Haynes, England's first Test playing opponent on this tour, had said beforehand that he wanted to have 'a little look' at the tourists, and a little one was all he got. Nineteen balls to be precise, before he edged Devon Malcolm at comfortable height to Graham Thorpe at first slip.
This is probably Haynes's last game for Barbados, although it would have been his last for anyone had he not hurled himself to the ground at the non-striker's end to get out of the way of a ferocious on-drive from his fellow opener, Philo Wallace, who hit nine fours and a six in his 57 before a full-blooded cut off Malcolm shortly after lunch was brilliantly caught by Mark Ramprakash at backward point.
If all England's fielding had been in this category, they would have had a much better day. Alan Igglesden had Wallace dropped by Graeme Hick at second slip when he was on eight, Jack Russell missed a much more difficult one off Igglesden, Mike Atherton spilled a hard one in the gully and Philip Tufnell should have hung on to a return catch when Roland Holder had made only 18.
However, had it not been for Tufnell bowling 18 consecutive overs for only 34 runs, Barbados might have fused the scoreboard. Igglesden discovered that, at his pace, there is no margin for error against this type of batsman, and not even Angus Fraser could tie anyone down for very long.
Malcolm, despite taking five wickets, conceded 93 runs and could not have derived total satisfaction from the day. Sherwin Campbell was unlucky to get a bottom-edged pull on to his middle stump after making 83, and Malcolm's fourth wicket was the result of a leg-stump half-volley carelessly flicked to square leg.
(First day of four; Barbados won toss)
BARBADOS - First Innings
D L Haynes c Thorpe b Malcolm 6
P A Wallace c Ramprakash b Malcolm 57
S G Campbell b Malcolm 83
* R I C Holder lbw Malcolm 85
L K Puckerin c Smith b Malcolm 6
C O Browne c Thorpe b Igglesden 41
V C Drakes not out 2
Extras (nb9) 9
Total (for 6) 289
Fall: 1-14 2-96 3-179 4-187 5-285 6-289.
To bat: W E Reid, O D Gibson, S M Skeete, D M Maynard.
Bowling: Malcolm 17-1-93-5; Igglesden 15.2-3-62-1; Fraser 18-3-62-0; Tufnell 26-6-54-0; Hick 6-1-18-0.
ENGLAND: * M A Atherton, A J Stewart, M R Ramprakash, R A Smith, G A Hick, G P Thorpe, R C Russell, A R C Fraser, A P Igglesden, P C R Tufnell, D E Malcolm.
Umpires: H Moore and D Holder.Reuse content