Regal Stewart strikes milestone century

Former captain constructs 179-run partnership with debutant Trescothick to revive England after Walsh sparks early collapse
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The Independent Online

A century of dazzling quality by Alec Stewart in his 100th Test match, and an unbeaten 65 by Marcus Trescothick, playing in his first, have shifted the momentum of this match England's way after the West Indies were bowled out for 157. At close, England had made 196 for 3, a lead of 39 runs, with the unbroken fourth-wicket stand worth 179 so far.

A century of dazzling quality by Alec Stewart in his 100th Test match, and an unbeaten 65 by Marcus Trescothick, playing in his first, have shifted the momentum of this match England's way after the West Indies were bowled out for 157. At close, England had made 196 for 3, a lead of 39 runs, with the unbroken fourth-wicket stand worth 179 so far.

Stewart, whose achievement contrasted greatly to the fate of his fellow centurion, Michael Atherton, who made just one run, is in august company. Following the achievements of Colin Cowdrey, Gordon Greenidge and Javed Miandad, he becomes the fourth player to do the three-figure double. It was the first of his three centuries to be scored in England.

The two innings were of contrasting tempo and style. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks but young pups are not above learning quickly and Trescothick, under Stewart's expert stewardship, quickly settled into the role of second fiddle. Stewart, of course, played the only way he knows, going on to the attack and reeling off an array of quite breathtaking strokes.

Reaching his century from 136 balls, Stewart flayed the West Indies' support bowlers to all parts of Old Trafford, hitting 13 fours, four of them in five balls from Reon King. Until Stewart put this pitch into perspective, with his regal batting, no batsman had been able to dominate.

Trescothick, who took 45 minutes to get off the mark, was more circumspect and he was fortunate to be dropped by Wavell Hinds at square leg when he was on three. Otherwise he played with all the sang-froid he had shown in the recent one-day series and even reached his fifty with a six over mid-wicket off Jimmy Adams, the first opener to do so on debut since Martyn Moxon made 74 at Lord's against New Zealand in 1986.

As this match wears on, and with Brian Lara far from his best, it is becoming increasingly clear that just two men stand between the West Indies and the loss of their 31-year unbeaten record against England. Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose are proud men whose fast bowling pedigree is beyond question, but even they must be tiring of trying to make good another limp performance by their batsmen.

In some ways, the West Indies have always relied on their fast bowlers to get them out of trouble and, until Stewart rode his luck and tucked into some cafeteria bowling by King after tea, Walsh had threatened to match the havoc created earlier in the day by Andy Caddick and Dominic Cork.

It was not until his eighth over that Walsh conceded his first run. Before that, he had taken 3 for 0, including Graham Thorpe, lbw ducking a slower ball for a golden duck. With Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain already gone, the world's highest wicket-taker went on a 60-yard victory charge after his cheeky deception had made a monkey out of Thorpe in the Surrey man's comeback Test.

Hussain, undone by a ball that took the shoulder of the bat and looped to gully, had already had a reprieve. Hooking at Franklyn Rose, Hussain found Walsh at long leg, only for the fast bowler to put his foot over the rope. Six was signalled, but Hussain, still at sixes and sevens after totalling 120 runs in his last nine Test innings, failed to take advantage of the break.

As they had done on the first day, England bowled with precision and patience. They also rekindled the aggression seen in that famous second innings at Lord's, tenderising West Indian ribs with well-directed bouncers before going for the kill.

That ploy accounted for Ramnaresh Sarwan, on yesterday's showing the visitors' best batsman. The 20-year-old right-hander from Guyana looks to have time to play when the ball is pitched up. Against the short stuff, he is more hesitant, a trait not unusual in young players when first confronted with the intimidatory side of the game.

He had reached 30 when Craig White, bowling at a fair lick, hit him under the heart. The blow, one of several he had endured about the body and hands, appeared to hurt him and he took several minutes to recover. But, if that did not remove him, it made his footwork less certain, which brought about his downfall six runs later when he fell lbw, playing around one that did not swing from Cork.

His departure brought about a collapse in which the last six wickets fell for 39 runs in 86 balls. It might have been worse had a bail been dislodged when Adams played the ball on to his leg-stump, or the umpire Doug Cowie given Franklyn Rose out lbw to Caddick when the batsman was on nought. But if that one looked plumb, the lbw he was eventually given out to, again by Cowie, was anything but.

The wickets were shared about with Cork taking four and White snaring one. White probably deserved better for his efforts. With the pitch dry enough to rough the ball, it was one of those rare days when the ball swung both reverse and conventionally. Two of the West Indies' left-handers can consider themselves unlucky. The wicketkeeper, Ridley Jacobs, was bowled by one that was swinging down leg until it hit his pad and deflected on to off-stump, while Ambrose creamed one out of the middle, only to see Hussain take off at short mid-on and pluck a miraculous catch out of the air. It left Ambrose left shaking his head in disbelief, disappointed at his own predicament as well as the more familiar one now befalling the West Indies' batting.

Old Trafford Scoreboard

West Indies won toss

West Indies - First Innings

(Overnight: 87-4)

*J C Adams c Thorpe b White 24 164 min, 92 balls, 2 fours R R Sarwan lbw b Cork 36 121 min, 100 balls, 2 fours R D Jacobs b Caddick 5 25 min, 20 balls, 1 four F A Rose lbw b Cork 16 29 min, 20 balls, 1 four, 1 six C E L Ambrose c Hussain b Caddick 3 6 min, 5 balls R D King not out 3 26 min, 17 balls C A Walsh lbw b Cork 7 10 min, 6 balls Extras (b1, lb12, nb7) 20 Total (315 min, 71.1 overs) 157 Fall (cont): 5-118 (Sarwan), 6-126 (Jacobs), 7-130 (Adams), 8-135 (Ambrose), 9-148 (Rose), 10-157 (Walsh).

Bowling: Gough 21-3-58-2 (nb4) (9-3-18-1 6-0-19-1 5-0-13-0 1-0-8-0), Caddick 24-10-45-3 (nb3) (12-5-17-1 5-1-14-0 4-4-0-0 3-0-14-2), Cork 17.1-8-23-4 (1-1-0-0 9-4-14-1 6-3-8-1 1.1-0-1-2), White 9-1-18-1 (one spell).

Progress: First day: Damp outfield prevented start until 12.00pm. Rain stopped play 12.56 - lunch taken 21-2 (W W Hinds 10, B C Lara 4) 13 overs. RSP: 1.52-2.12pm 27-2 (Hinds 15, Lara 5) 17.2 overs. RSP: 2.16-5.30pm 27-2 (Hinds 15, Lara 5) 18.2 overs. 50: 126 mins, 29 overs. Close 87-4 (Adams 16, Sarwan 17) 42 overs. Second day: 100: 199 min, 46.2 overs. Lunch 148-8 (Rose 16, King 2) 69 overs. 150: 310 min, 70.3 overs. Innings closed 1.52pm.

England - First Innings

M A Atherton c Campbell b Walsh 1 16 balls M E Trescothick not out 65 150 balls, 6 fours, 1 six *N Hussain c Adams b Walsh 10 36 balls, 1 six G P Thorpe lbw b Walsh 0 1 ball A J Stewart not out 105 151 balls, 13 fours Extras (b4, lb5, nb6) 15 Total (for 3, 57 overs) 196 To bat: M P Vaughan, C White, D G Cork, R D B Croft, A R Caddick, D Gough. Falls: 1-1 (Atherton), 2-17 (Hussain), 3-17 (Thorpe).

Bowling: Ambrose 13-4-40-0; Walsh 16-10-26-3; Rose 14-1-66-0 (5nb); King 4-0-23-0; Adams 11-4-32-0 (1nb).

Progress: 100: 146min, 195 balls. Stewart 50: 63 balls.

Umpires: D B Cowie and P Willey.

TV replay umpire: K E Palmer.

Match referee: R S Madugalle.