Simon Jones bowled England to the brink of a historic victory on the fourth day of the second Test with his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket. After ripping out the mainstays of the West Indies batting with a devastating display of fast bowling, the Welshman left his side needing just 99 runs to move 2-0 up in this four-Test series.
England lost Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan during a frantic run-chase in the gloom of the Queen's Park Oval before bad light prevented the tourists from trying to complete what would be a well deserved victory. When play resumes today, weather permitting, England will require only 28 runs to retain the Wisden Trophy. Victory would also give Vaughan a wonderful chance of becoming the first England captain in 36 years to win a Test series in the Caribbean.
Considering the position of the game it was inevitable that play would end controversially. Despite the fading light and the fact that lights were being turned on in the roofs of stands to allow spectators see what they were doing, Nasser Hussain and Mark Butcher wanted to continue batting and finish the game. The light, however, had reached the stage where it was affecting the fielding side and Brian Lara had every right to complain to the umpires. The weather in this region is as unpredictable as the local team but it is unlikely now to influence the result.
This performance was a triumph for Jones. Seventeen months ago, the Glamorgan fast bowler was carried from the Gabba in Australia with ruptured ligaments in his right knee. Many feared that the 25-year-old would never play again; his figures of 5 for 57 are a fitting reward for the hard work he has put in to battle back.
This will go down as the best day of Jones' short international career but it could have been better had he not given Ramnaresh Sarwan a send-off when he dismissed him for 13. Fast bowlers need to be aggressive but it is something Jones needs to control if he wishes to avoid the ire of match referees.
He looks certain to find himself meeting the match referee here, Mike Proctor, after his reaction to the dismissal of Sarwan. After removing the West Indies vice-captain with a somewhat dubious lbw decision, Jones went up to the batsman and gave him a clenched-fist salute before scowling in his face. It is just this sort of behaviour that the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council, has been attempting to stamp out and Jones could find himself facing a fine and a ban for his outburst. The severity of this will depend on how the two umpires interpret the incident.
Proctor looks set to have a busy evening after it emerged that Lara, the West Indies captain, had been reported to the match referee following a heated exchange with the umpires on Sunday.
Jones' first delivery of the day gave little indication of the damage he was about to inflict on the West Indies. The Welshman's loosener was fired a yard down the leg side and flew past the outstretched hands of the diving wicketkeeper, Chris Read, for five wides. But his next delivery was deadly. The pitch here is renowned for poor bounce and there was nothing Chris Gayle could do about the ball which shot under his bat and hit the base of off stump.
It was a full ball, and a dreadful shot, that accounted for Devon Smith in Jones' second over. In his century in the first Test it appeared as if the flamboyant 22-year-old had tightened up his game; yesterday's loose drive to Matthew Hoggard at mid-off suggests he is still prone to lapses in concentration.
Ridley Jacobs, the West Indies wicket-keeper, surprised everyone by coming out to bat at No 4 but this underrated player helped claw his side back into this match with an entertaining and defiant innings of 70.
That Lara failed to emerge from the pavilion understandably started tongue's wagging. The Barmy Army sang mocking songs that suggested Lara was bottling it, while others used his injured finger as an excuse. The official explanation from the home dressing-room stated that this was a tactical decision.
Lara entered the fray following the dismissal of Jacobs, who fell to a brute of a delivery from Jones which reared off a length and caught the shoulder of his bat. This dismissal was not the result of a poor pitch but of a fast bowler using all his strength to extract life out of the wicket.
The arrival of the superstar focused the attention of all in the ground. This, they realised, was the crucial period of the match. The West Indies were only 47 runs ahead but no England player needs telling what Lara can do. The left-hander raced to eight off his first six balls but Vaughan, astutely, brought Stephen Harmison back into the attack. The decision proved to be inspired when the Durham paceman trapped Lara plumb in front with his first ball.
Dwayne Smith played a couple of sumptuous shots before he was superbly caught by England's substitute fielder, Paul Collingwood, at backward point off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff. Shivnarine Chanderpaul unwisely attempted to pull Flintoff's next ball and gave a catch to Nasser Hussain at deep square leg.
This started a collapse which saw the West Indies lose their last five wickets for 15 runs in 37 balls. It was fitting that it should be Jones who finished them off when he bowled Pedro Collins to claim his fifth wicket.
England started the day in disappointing fashion, losing their last four wickets for four runs. Ashley Giles was the first to go, and he was soon followed by Graham Thorpe who, while batting with the tail, had no option but to come out of his bunker and play a few more attacking shots. And it was this approach which led to his downfall when, on 90, he edged an aggressive shot off Collins to Gayle at first slip.
Gayle's gentle off-spin was too much for England's last three batsmen, who scored one run between them.Reuse content