England win built on Vaughan 'home' runs

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West Indies 172 & 61 England 272 England win by innings and 39 runs

West Indies 172 & 61 England 272 England win by innings and 39 runs

It is unthinkable that the West Indies' proud 31-year record of not losing a series to England may almost be at an end, but the possibility has never been greater following their two-day innings defeat here yesterday. With one Test at The Oval left to play, and England 2-1 up in the series, one of the great monuments in modern sport may be about to fall off its plinth.

Should that happen, the aftershocks will be felt much further afield than Headingley though, judging by the joyous scenes at the end, this was, even by this ground's elevated standing in the pantheon, an extraordinary Test match.

At start of play yesterday, England resumed on 105 for 5, with hope and expectation, rather than the certainty of victory, in their hearts. Six hours later the mighty roar that greeted the uprooting of Courtney Walsh's middle stump was unequivocally that of a home triumph.

Two-day finishes are rare beasts in these days of covered pitches. The last in England occurred in 1921, when JWHT Douglas' team took a pasting from Australia. The most recent took place in 1945-46 when Australia dispatched New Zealand. Indeed, the Kiwi's performance was apparently so poor that Australia did not play them at Test level for another 28 years, an act of arrogance that still gets the New Zealand goat for time to time.

There will be none of that between these two sides after yesterday, for it was nip and tuck right up until half-centuries from Michael Vaughan and the extra batsman, Graeme Hick, steered England to their decisive 100-run lead. Once that had been secured, the West Indies would have to bat out of their skins, or England bowl like drains for the momentum, so fickle on the first day, to change hands yet again.

Whatever the collective noun for three Yorkshiremen (yarn, skipful?), they excelled on their home turf. After Craig White's wickets on the opening day came the runs and calm assurance of Vaughan which removed all but the faintest of West Indies' hopes. Yet no Yorkie-fest would be complete without Darren Gough, whose decisive new-ball spell burst the bubble marked 'miracle' and consigned the West Indies to their 13th overseas defeat in four tours.

On a hat-trick - a feat Andy Caddick experienced in his 10th over which yielded four wickets - Gough ripped out the first four in the West Indies' order in his first six overs. The jewel among them was Brian Lara, who was lbw not offering a stroke for the second time in the match. Carrying a region's hopes as well as the team's batting proved a burden too great. His misjudgement was tempting fate, in the shape of umpire Doug Cowie's trigger-happy finger, but the ball would probably have just missed the off stump.

When Gough rested from his rhino charges from the Rugby Stand end, Caddick followed him to flatten the tail. In one extraordinary over the visitors collapsed from 52 for 5 to 53 for 9 as Caddick took four wickets in six legitimate balls without managing the hat-trick - the most prolific spell since another Yorkie, Chris Old, took four in five against Pakistan at Edgbaston in 1978.

It was a sequence that began with a dubious lbw given against Ridley Jacobs. But if there was doubt there, what followed was beyond ambiguity as the stumps were uprooted and reset three times as Nixon McLean, Curtly Ambrose and Reon King all fell for ducks. Four overs later Caddick mopped up his fifth bunny and West Indies were all out for 61, their second prep-school score of the series following their 54 at Lord's six weeks ago.

In a match boasting heroics on several levels, choosing between the White Rose trio is bound to divide the locals. To an outsider, however, Vaughan's offering - a Test-best 76 - clinches the rosette and he deservedly won the Man of the Match award. On a pitch that never allowed the batsmen to feel settled, and against an attack containing two fast bowlers with almost 900 Test victims between them, his was a innings of great maturity and application.

Vaughan, unflustered as ever, was aided in his cause first by Hick, who took the heat off him to score quickly in the pre-lunch session.

Thereafter his benefactors were the tourists' second-string bowlers who once again leaked runs when Ambrose and Walsh were rested.

The figures are damning. Together Walsh and Ambrose bowled 42.5 overs between them, taking eight wickets and conceding 93 runs at a rate of 2.19 runs per over. In stark contrast, the figures for King and McLean, the latter playing in place of the injured Franklyn Rose, are sober beer in comparison - 33 overs, one wicket for 141 runs at a rate of 4.27 runs per over.

No captain can make bowlers perform better, but Jimmy Adams could have limited the damage by making sure that King and McLean never bowled in tandem. They did not do so for long, but the 40 minute stretch when they did find themselves together, when England were 128 for 6, allowed the home side to go into lunch on 200 for 6.

It was not all poor play that allowed England to profit and credit must go to the strategies planned by the coach, Duncan Fletcher, and to Vaughan and Hick for executing them. Apart from the extra-batsman ploy, which actually proved decisive here, the pair put the West Indies' fielders under pressure by stealing quick singles almost at will.

The result had two effects: firstly to bring more runs through wild overthrows and misfields and secondly to cause Ambrose and Walsh to strive harder for the breakthrough, exertions which tired the magnificent old-stagers out more quickly.

The knock-on effect was that the West Indies were rattled and Adams suddenly had to find someone to bowl 11 overs before his two aces could take the second new ball. In the end it was undertaken by him and McLean, a pairing which although not wicket-shy - Hick and White fell in that period - allowed England to add 67 runs at a run a ball.

Once that had happened, and with Gough fired up by a raucous home crowd, it was never a question of if would England win, simply when.