Revival in hands of youngsters

There has not been much to hearten the West Indies over the summer and, as Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh made their emotional, arm-in-arm, farewell here yesterday to the acclaim reserved for the greatest, there are even more testing times ahead without them.

There has not been much to hearten the West Indies over the summer and, as Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh made their emotional, arm-in-arm, farewell here yesterday to the acclaim reserved for the greatest, there are even more testing times ahead without them.

The two veterans have been exemplary role models throughout their distinguished careers and, at last, they had the disciplined support so obviously lacking for much of the series.

Typically, they spent their last day together on a Test match ground as they have spent so many others, desperately battling to extricate the team from the mess that batsmen had again got them into.

Nixon McLean, deliberately reducing his pace in exchange for the kind of control Ambrose and Walsh have mastered, backed them up effectively.

McLean has been in the Test team for two years and has had a couple of seasons in county cricket with Hampshire but it has taken this match for him to realise that the key to success is not so much speed and hostility but control. This could be a timely turning point for him.

Mahendra Nagamootoo, the leg-spinner on his debut, also played a part in keeping alive the West Indies' interests in the match. His accuracy was such that his 43 overs in the match cost him a mere two and a half runs each and he claimed three notable victims, all from the outside edge.

Nagamootoo batted enterprisingly and his fielding added a spark to the effort. As Ambrose and Walsh depart, McLean, the leg-spinner and the other young players now have the responsibility of reviving West Indies' cricket.

The last of the several memorable jousts between Ambrose and Walsh and Mike Atherton was the highlight of another engrossing day. No one has had to contend with them more often than the dogged opener and he has rarely had a more severe examination than he faced in the morning.

For 11 overs, Walsh offered nothing that was hittable and conceded four runs. Ambrose was more expensive, six off six. Yet Atherton would not be moved. It was rivetting stuff.

Stamina, determination and intelligence are as essential for fast bowlers as skill and they were in evidence to the end. Walsh kept going for 24 overs, Ambrose responded to the team's needs with 13, although clearly handicapped by a painful left knee. Walsh had three wickets. With luck, he could have had more. Ambrose had none, which was a travesty.

They have again handed the job back to the batsmen. For a team toppled for 54 and 61 in earlier Tests and for 125 two days ago, 374 is a distant target. But it is not impossible. The openers have set a promising platform. A remarkable series could be in for a remarkable climax.

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