Hoggard puts West Indies on back foot

West Indies 380 & 115-5 MCC 260
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The Independent Online

There were worrying signs for the West Indies ahead of the first Test with England, despite their side having the ascendancy against the MCC on a day when 18 wickets fell here.

First the pace pair of Fidel Edwards and Pedro Collins found it tough going on their first outing in England. Edwards and Collins returned combined figures of 0 for 115 from 22 overs after flying into the country on Friday to join up with the squad which had been in action for the NatWest Series.

A sluggish wicket and cold weather were hardly ideal conditions in which to acclimatise but there is only a three-day game with Sri Lanka A to find any rhythm before the Test series with England gets underway at Lord's next Thursday.

A rapid decline by the hosts, who lost their last eight wickets for 60 runs in 16 overs to be dismissed for 260, had handed the Windies a first-innings lead of 120. But the frailties of the West Indies batsmen under overcast skies and against a moving ball were exposed by Matthew Hoggard and Charl Willoughby.

They slumped to 50 for 5 at one stage before a half-century from Chris Gayle and Brian Lara steered them to 115 for 5 by the close - a lead of 235.

The third member of the Windies pace trio, Jermaine Lawson, began the MCC's collapse from 195 for 2 by removing top scorer Sven Koenig (79) and Graham Thorpe.

Koenig, who added 62 for the second wicket with Michael Powell, batted with the kind of fluency seldom seen when opening for Middlesex in reaching 79 off 136 balls with nine fours. But he then edged Lawson and, although Gayle juggled with the ball at second slip, Lara at first slip was able to complete the catch.

Thorpe's impressive innings was also brought to an end by Lawson. Thorpe hit five fours and a six in his 32 from 39 balls but a mis-timed pull saw Shivnarine Chanderpaul hold on to a simple catch at mid-wicket. After that it was a procession.

Dwayne Smith, back from a check-up on a left thigh, showed no ill effects as he came back to wrap up the MCC innings by removing Dale Benkenstein, Hoggard and Willoughby in rapid succession. An eventful day ended on a low note when he departed for a first-ball duck in the second innings as Hoggard struck twice in successive balls for the second time in the day. He removed Devon Smith - caught at mid-wicket - and trapped Dwayne Smith lbw with the next ball.

Hoggard and Simon Jones wrapped up the West Indies first innings in quick time after the tourists had resumed on 373 for 6 for the addition of seven runs. Between them they captured the final three wickets in nine balls. Hoggard finished with 4 for 32 having confirmed his fitness for the Test series and Jones 2 for 77.