West Indies run ragged by batsmen on full alert

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The Independent Online

England's remarkable innings and 39-run victory on this second day at Headingley was based on some extremely clever thinking in the dressing-room. From the first ball the running between the wickets was transformed and before an hour had gone by the West Indies were being run ragged in the field.

England's remarkable innings and 39-run victory on this second day at Headingley was based on some extremely clever thinking in the dressing-room. From the first ball the running between the wickets was transformed and before an hour had gone by the West Indies were being run ragged in the field.

Michael Vaughan's first partner was the nightwatchman, Andy Caddick, who is no greyhound. But together they targeted the weak throwers, Courtney Walsh, who is only able to bowl the ball in from the outfield, Nixon McLean and Reon King. They were usually to be found in the deep, third man and fine leg, and by sprinting the first run the batsmen continually and without risk turned singles into twos.

Curtly Ambrose and Walsh were bowling with three or four slips, a gully and a short leg round the bat and there were gaps elsewhere. The batsmen were ever alert and the ball was constantly pushed for short singles. On one occasion when gully was a little deep they ran a single with perfect safety when the ball was played only a few feet to his right. This caused a great many problems and three lots of overthrows were given away in the first hour, and nothing lowers a fielding side's morale quicker than that.

Caddick hung on for 28 minutes at the start and no-one had picked up the spirit of this planned assault on West Indian fielding better than he. When he had departed, Graeme Hick was just as much on his toes and Jimmy Adams found that he had a new problem on his hands and not enough fielders to go round.

The two senior fast bowlers, Ambrose and Walsh, did not exactly enjoy the experience either. They found unnecessary runs were being given away at their expense. As a result of all this the West Indies were soon looking a shambles in the field.

Running between wickets so often goes unnoticed. It is taken for granted and is not always regarded as a skill to be practised on its own. But the running between the wickets played a most important part in setting up this wonderful day for England. It also provided grand entertainment.

If this pitch had been a mine-field, England's last five wickets could not possibly have added 176. Test match batsmen should, by definition, be able to cope with a certain amount of sideways movement and some unevenness in bounce and, in their splendid seventh-wicket stand of 98, Vaughan and Hick did just this.

They allowed themselves to cut and hook when the right ball came along - shots which are not advisable when the bounce is all over the place. Otherwise, they played straight and scored most of their runs in the arc between extra-cover and wide mid-on. This always argued good and sensible planning. The England dressing-room is becoming an increasingly well-organised nerve centre.

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