Lara points finger as umpire puts England in total control

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Brian Lara questioned whether England had a plan B before the start of the first Test, but what he did not account for was that Michael Vaughan's side had a plan G, or possibly even a plan H.

Brian Lara questioned whether England had a plan B before the start of the first Test, but what he did not account for was that Michael Vaughan's side had a plan G, or possibly even a plan H.

The West Indian captain made this statement when he was asked about the qualities of the England bowling attack and their spearhead Stephen Harmison. Lara indicated that he felt his opponents were too reliant on one bowler.

Therefore it would have come as a surprise to him and his team to see Ashley Giles and Daryl Harper turn the second day of this action-filled Test England's way.

In 27 well-flighted deliveries the Warwickshire spinner ripped out the pride of the West Indian batting and took 3 for 10. Giles and England were aided by two decisions from umpire Harper, who gave out Chris Gayle and Lara when they patently should not have been given.

Lara said as much in a cryptic statement which clearly implied that he felt he was not out: "I still find it impossible not to walk when I know I am out."

The injustice of this failed to worry Vaughan, who walked off at the close a very contented man. Earlier in the day, the England captain completed his 12th Test century and watched Robert Key, one of the players his evolving team will be built around in future, score a wonderful double hundred.

The tourists recovered well from the walloping they took on Thursday to bowl out England for 568, but this still left them requiring 369 runs to avoid the follow-on. Dwayne Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul took them to 208 for 4 but they are still 161 runs away from avoiding the ignominy of being asked to bat again.

When Vaughan invited Giles to bowl at the Nursery End his decision had more to do with England regaining some sort of control of the day's proceedings. Having lost their last seven wickets for 41 runs in 68 balls and after conceding 52 runs in the first eight overs of the West Indies reply the momentum was beginning to sway towards the visitors.

In these situations it is normally Andrew Flintoff who is brought into the attack, and after being informed that the Lancashire all-rounder had been passed fit to bowl it was astonishing not to see him handed the ball. This once again posed the question of whether he is actually fit or not.

Giles failed to strike before the tea interval, but he did manage to check the run rate. The first of his wickets had nothing to do with luck. Devon Smith and Gayle had taken the West Indies to 118 before the diminutive left-hander from Grenada attempted to cut and bottom-edged the ball on to his off stump.

Gayle followed in Giles' next over when Harper gave him out leg before wicket. The Jamaican was playing the sweep shot when the ball clearly hit him outside the line of off stump. Matthew Hoggard joined in the fun four overs later when he trapped Ramnaresh Sarwan plum in front, but it was the dismissal of Lara which completed another successful day for England.

Lara looked determined as he strode to the crease and, knowing that the future of this series possibly lay in his hands, set about building a big score. The holder of the record score in Test cricket looked in little trouble when he pushed forward to Giles with his bat hidden behind his pad. On the way through to Geraint Jones, the ball clipped the pad and this encouraged Giles and England's close fielders to appeal. To begin with Lara looked at them in surprise, but his expression turned to horror when he saw Harper raise the index finger of his right hand. Lara did not want to go and his slow exit left the umpire knowing exactly what he thought of the decision.

Naturally, Giles' take on the event was slightly different to that of Lara. "I went up because I thought he hit it, and Daryl Harper put up his finger because he thought he hit it as well," he said.

England began the day with the same gusto as that shown on Thursday. The West Indies' bowling was as indisciplined as ever and runs were flowing freely from the bats of Key and Vaughan. Ninety-four runs were added in the first 81 minutes of play and at this stage England looked set for a score in excess of 700. But the home side's fortunes changed when an ambitious cut shot from Key flew to Lara in the gully.

The Kent opener had looked relaxed and in total control as he continued to take the game to the opposition in the opening overs, and the first double century of his first-class career came via a nonchalant clip through midwicket - the same shot which took him to three figures on Thursday.

Key's delightful performance failed to gain him membership to the quality of club Andrew Strauss has become accustomed to joining, but this innings was the third-highest score by an Englishman at Lord's. In the 108 Test matches played here only five England batsman had previously reached 200, and after becoming the sixth Key then proceeded to pass scores by Joe Hardstaff Jnr, Jack Hobbs and Denis Compton.

Throughout Key's innings Vaughan appeared content to sit in the background and quietly collect his runs. The foot movement and shot selection of the Yorkshire batsman was superb and the only thing that would have distressed him was the wasteful way in which his team-mates threw away their wickets.

Graham Thorpe and Andrew Flintoff both played poor strokes to give their wickets away and Geraint Jones and Giles were guilty of pushing at balls from Pedro Collins they could have left alone. It was left to Simon Jones to see his captain to three figures, and when Vaughan sprinted down the wicket for his 100th run he looked a very relieved man.

200s at Lord's

Graham Gooch 333

v India, 1990

Wally Hammond 240

v Australia, 1938

Robert Key 221

v West Indies, 2004



v South Africa, 1924

Denis Compton 208

v South Africa, 1947

Joe Hardstaff Jnr 205*

v India, 1946

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