Harmison shows the way again as England dominate

West Indies 189-8 v England

This Test series is only five days old but the West Indies must already be sick and tired of the sight of Stephen Harmison. After taking 7 for 12 in England's amazing 10-wicket victory at Sabina Park, the Durham paceman was back at his best here on the first day of the second Test. He claimed his second successive five-wicket haul against a batting line-up who appear to have few answers to the problems he is posing.

This Test series is only five days old but the West Indies must already be sick and tired of the sight of Stephen Harmison. After taking 7 for 12 in England's amazing 10-wicket victory at Sabina Park, the Durham paceman was back at his best here on the first day of the second Test. He claimed his second successive five-wicket haul against a batting line-up who appear to have few answers to the problems he is posing.

When bad light ended another successful day for Michael Vaughan's touring side the West Indies had been reduced to 189 for 8 and Harmison had taken his wicket tally in this series to 14. The 25-year-old was not the only bowler to get among the wickets on a rain interrupted day, but it is his efforts that have given England a wonderful opportunity of becoming the first team to win a Test series in the Caribbean for 36 years.

The West Indies could blame the bad weather and the detrimental effect it had on this pitch for their problems in the afternoon, but the real damage had been caused before lunch when Harmison claimed three wickets in a dramatic eight-ball spell.

The evening session was in stark contrast to that at the start of the day when Chris Gayle and Devon Smith were making the most of indifferent bowling and piling on the runs. Gayle, with some belligerent and brutal stroke-play, had let England's bowlers know that he was no longer going to allow them to dominate him. Smith, meanwhile, was quietly going about his business in the manner he had during the first meeting when he posted his maiden Test hundred.

The openers had taken the West Indies to 100 before Harmison changed ends and changed the course of the day's play with the fourth ball of his seventh over. With it he found the outside edge of Gayle's broad bat and the wicketkeeper Chris Read safely took the catch.

With the first ball of his next over Harmison then trapped Smith in front, but it was the prized wicket of the home captain, Brian Lara, four balls later, which meant the most to England.

There was very little Lara could do about the vicious short ball which rapped him on the gloves and lobbed to Ashley Giles in the gully, but the timing of the dismissal highlighted how cruel this game can be. There were only three or four minutes of the session remaining when Lara had to come out to bat: a period of play where little could be gained but everything could be lost.

Reluctantly the left hander made his way to the middle but he never looked comfortable during the four deliveries he faced. The ball before Lara was out appeared to hit him his injured hand but the state of the Trinidadian's little finger was of no concern to England, who swamped Harmison and Giles. As Lara made his way from the field the umpires took the bails off and the West Indies had been reduced from the strong position of 100 for 0 to 110 for 3.

This positioned worsened considerably after a two-and-a- half hour delay for rain. In the third over after the resumption, Simon Jones found the outside edge of Chanderpaul's bat and Read held on to his second chance. The rains returned and restricted this period of play to 24 minutes, but during it England had taken an important wicket for the addition of 17 runs.

Many feared this delay would signify the end of play but it helped England considerably, in that it allowed the pitch to sweat under the tarpaulin covers for a second time.

It was a bonus they made the most of as the shadows lengthened. Harmison was now getting the same steep bounce from this surface as he had from that in the first Test and Matthew Hoggard was swinging and seaming the old ball around. The West Indian batsmen were looking just as vulnerable as they had at Sabina Park and every over looked like bringing a wicket.

The highly rated Dwayne Smith, who replaced Ryan Hinds in the West Indies line-up, hooked Harmison for a magnificent six over mid-wicket but fell attempting a similar shot in the next over.

Ramnaresh Sarwan went in the same over when he pushed at ball he should have left alone and gave Andrew Flintoff a simple catch at second slip. The West Indies had now collapsed to 143 for 6 with all their recognised batsmen back in the pavilion.

Hoggard eventually found the edge of Tino Best's bat and Adam Sandford foolishly ran himself out looking for a third run. Ridley Jacobs should have been caught by Vaughan at mid-off on 28, but this was one of the only mistakes made by England during a productive afternoon of cricket.

Asking Harmison to bowl at the Pavilion End proved to be catalyst for England's fight-back but it was a surprise that Vaughan did not bowl him here from the start. This is, after all, the end at which Curtley Ambrose, Glenn McGrath and myself had gained success in the past.

There is no slope at the Queen's Park Oval and it is very rare for the wind to be any stronger than a breeze, so it is the same for a bowler at either end.

The one difference, however, is the viewing for a batsmen. At the Pavilion End there is no sight-screen, only walls painted white. And in the middle of this is the balcony from which the home side sit and watch the cricket. This is in the shade and causes the area to look grey rather than white.

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