To say that Tino Best enjoyed his first Test wicket would be something of an understatement. On seeing Adam Sanford hold on to Graham Thorpe's top-edged hook at fine-leg the 22 year-old fast-bowler sprinted, arms waving farntically, in an 80-yard arc towards the sightscreen at the far end. There he collapsed in a heap, punched the air and was mobbed by his elated team-mates.
This wicket, and the other two he took, were the highlights for the West Indies, the highlights of another compulsive day here. Picking the champion performer from Michael Vaughan's side, however, is a more difficult proposition. At their hotel England would not quite know how to assess their third day of Test cricket in the Caribbean.
On the back of battling innings from each member of their middle and lower order the tourists have reached a relatively strong position, but the match is still there for the taking. Batting is difficult on a pitch offering plenty for the fast men, but England must feel that they could be in a better position than they are.
With a first-innings lead of 28 after being bowled out for 339, England are handily placed there were 20 runs separating the sides at the close but three or four players who spent a considerable time in the middle will be disappointed with the way they were dismissed.
Nasser Hussain was not one of the guilty men. England's number four received a brute of a ball from Best, which he could only spoon to extra cover. Afterwards, he suggested that he and his colleagues all needed to put a higher price on their wicket. "Having done all the hard work, one of us should have gone on to score a hundred," he said. "There have been a couple of soft dismissals in this innings and this is something we need to look at. Batting on Friday was tough. The ball was doing all sorts, but I enjoy batting with Butch [Mark Butcher] we both have plenty of bruises to show for our efforts." Butcher in particular. The Surrey left-hander did not come out to field in the evening, suffering from a swollen hand.
England's cause has been helped by the generosity of the West Indies, who gave away 60 extras, and injuries to two of their key players picking up injuries. After dislocating his finger on Friday evening Brian Lara did not appear from the dressing-room until the mid-point of the day and Fidel Edwards the West Indies' most dangerous bowler was forced off the field during the morning with a side strain. It is possible that both could still play a significant role, but the West Indies will fear for Edwards. Without him their attack is too reliant on Best
Lara's return to the action was a direct response to the useful partnership being constructed by Andrew Flintoff and Chris Read following the dismissals of Thorpe and Hussain and had immediate results. With the second new ball six overs away he introduced Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Flintoff had batted responsibly for 44 runs but the sight of a part-time leg-spinner, rather than a 90 mph tear-away holding the ball proved too much and he attempted to slog Sarwan's fourth delivery into the ocean. His hack failed to reach even the outfield, though, lobbing softly to Ryan Hinds at mid-wicket.
When the second new ball was taken it quickly gave the crowd reason to cheer. Best immediately bounced Read, who went for a hook. It was too quick for him and all he managed to do was chip a simple catch to square-leg.
Before Edwards' injury Hussain and Thorpe were nonchalantly moving England closer to the West Indies' first innings total of 311. Many local supporters feared the worst when the 22-year-old walked off, but nothingcould dampen Best's enthusiasm. After dismissing Thorpe in his 11th over he doubled his tally when he claimed Hussain with another vicious delivery.
Unsurprisingly it was a short ball. It is, after all, the delivery Best appears to enjoy bowling most. The ball that dismissed Hussain was not a bouncer, but fast and short of a length, arrowing in on Hussain's chest. Hussain attempted to deflect it on the leg-side but succeeded in only in chipping a leading edge to extra cover. Best's celebrations were less theatrical this time, but he had dismissed England's last two recognised batsmen in a four-over spell.
There is nothing West Indian supporters love more than a fast bowler and in Edwards and Best they have two young men who should provide the region with plenty of entertainment for many years to come.
Their lack of height both are under 5ft 10in may prevent them becoming true world beaters, but their presence is sure to give batsmen touring the Caribbean plenty of sleepless nights.
It is difficult to believe English cricket could produce a cricketer like Best. The coaches would have told him to slow his run up down and to be more controlled at the crease. They would also have encouraged him to pitch the ball up more, to say less to the batsman, and to play in a more controlled manner.
This sort of cricket does not appeal to this fast bowler one little bit. All Best wants to do is get the ball down the other end as quickly as he can. It may not offer a captain consistency Best took 0 for 99 on his Test debut against Australia but it is guaranteed to liven up the day.
Sabina Park scoreboard
West Indies won toss
West Indies - First Innings 311 (D S Smith 108, R O Hinds 84; M J Hoggard 3-68)
England - First Innings (Overnight 154-3)
N Hussain c sub (Bernard) b Best 58
G P Thorpe c Sanford b Best 19
A Flintoff c Hinds b Sarwan 46
C M W Read c Hinds b Best 20
A F Giles b Sanford 27
M J Hoggard not out 9
S P Jones c Sanford b Hinds 7
S J Harmison run out 13
Extras (b7 lb28 w7 nb18) 60
Total (103.2 overs) 339
Fall (contd): 4-194 (Thorpe), 5-209 (Hussain), 6-268 (Flintoff), 7-278 (Read), 8-313 (Giles), 9-325 (Jones), 10-339 (Harmison)
Bowling: Colleymore 24-6 -53-0 (9nb); Edwards 19.3-3-72-3 (7nb, 2w); Best 19-1-57-3 (1nb, 4w); Sanford 22-1-90-1 (1nb); Hinds 11.5-2-18-1; Gayle 1-0-6-0; Sarwan 4-1-6-1
Hussain 50: 243 min, 137 balls, 6 fours.
West Indies Second Innings
C H Gayle not out 8
D S Smith not out 0
Total 0 wkts (3.2 overs) 2
To Bat: B C Lara, S Chanderpaul, R O Hinds, R R Sarwan, R D Jacobs, A Sanford, T L Best, C D Collymore, F H Edwards.
Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) and D J Harper (Aus).Reuse content