White hot as England head into history

Fifth Test: Support bowlers enjoy a field day to torment the tourists as series win beckons for Hussain's men

England are on the very brink of defeating the West Indies in a Test series for the first time in 31 years. Throughout most of that period this is a position which it seemed would never again be reached. Yet when it arrived in mid-morning yesterday it was not only expected but routine.

England are on the very brink of defeating the West Indies in a Test series for the first time in 31 years. Throughout most of that period this is a position which it seemed would never again be reached. Yet when it arrived in mid-morning yesterday it was not only expected but routine.

The tourists' batting collapsed in a heap again, the only wonder being that they saved the follow-on. The one man who might have salvaged their miserable effort, Brian Lara, suffered the indignity of the only first-ball duck of his Test career.

It was difficult to discern who was the more forlorn, the Trinidadian or Nasser Hussain, whose failure to score brought him his only pair in 270 first-class matches. This was the culmination of a wretched Test summer for England's captain. He has made 61 runs in seven innings in this series, 92 in 10 this summer, 148 in his last 13 Test innings. If the next Test was any time before Lahore in November he would have trouble justifying his selection - except as the unquestioned leader of a winning team.

It is not quite all over yet. West Indies have played wretchedly - all too reminiscent to close followers of England - but there is the chance that England, having waited so long, will peer in to the eyes of victory and run away from it, thinking it to be a stranger. Not much chance, surely, but the job has to be finished before a full house at The Oval today.

If England see it through, as they should after establishing a first-innings lead of 156 with a bridgehead erected by their second phase bowlers, it will be important neither to diminish nor to exaggerate their triumph. On the one hand, most of their predecessors could probably have seen off these West Indies with all their frailties, on the other they were often pretty ropey themselves.

It would be wrong, too, to suggest that the Wisden Trophy is coming home. England have won it only twice previously in the 17 series since it was inaugurated in 1963 to mark the centenary edition of the Wisden Almanack. Observers of the English scene had begun to think that the second centenary would come round before the trophy.

Nobody ought to have been willing to call the outcome before play started. Both sides have proved themselves capable of mediocrity and while England had nosed ahead in the series West Indies, even this team, have dug themselves out of some big holes.

When Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick failed to make early incursion with their first spells the prospects were that they might challenge England's 281. Sherwin Campbell was handsome and if Adrian Griffith's batting could never come into that category its ungainliness was briefly matched by its steadiness.

Survival against the initial new-ball spells (the first on Friday night, the second yesterday morning) was to their credit. The garlands had been heaped on Caddick and Gough these past few weeks and they arrived here as the first pair of England opening bowlers to go through a summer in 40 years. As the most recent were Brian Statham and Fred Trueman against South Africa in 1960 it says something for these latest successors, for selectorial continuity and for welcome lack of injuries.

When they were relieved, the West Indies might have been tempted to relax. Batsmen once did that at their enormous peril against the West Indies' bowlers. As soon as one duo departed another just as lethal arrived. So, too, now.

From the Vauxhall End, in roared Craig White, from the pavilion end, whipping up a storm, came Dominic Cork. There was no answer to them. Cork removed Campbell as the batsman pushed down the wrong line, deceived by swing or the absence of it, and saw his inside edge go into his stumps.

In the next over, from White, Griffith flayed to Graeme Hick at second slip. It was Lara or nothing now for West Indies. The stage, so they said, was set for him, but he had only a walk-on part.

Round the wicket came the reborn Yorkshireman. The ball swung, slanted across Lara's body and he was almost falling over in the shot as it the ball seared round his legs and took the leg stump. Three wickets had fallen in nine balls and the West Indies followed form by allowing it to become four in 14 when Wavell Hinds was lbw to Cork, and obviously so.

As soon as it became 39 for 5 at the fall of Ramnaresh Sarwan, beautifully held at fourth slip by Marcus Trescothick, the prospects of West Indies saving the follow-on, for which they needed 82, let alone achieving a three-figure score were not rosy.

Somehow, they managed it. White was replaced briefly after a spell of 3 for 8 in five overs but a rampant Cork induced Jimmy Adams to push at one away from his body after giving him a series of balls moving in. Hick held another catch. Cork has taken 18 wickets in this series at 10.8. Another triumph for the selectors.

There was a brief rally, engineered by Ridley Jacobs and Mehendra Nagamootoo, who decided that he might as well express himself. Trescothick's second smart catch accounted for Nagamootoo, Caddick claimed a wicket by having Curtly Ambrose lbw on the back leg, the follow-on was on again, so to speak and so was another three-day finish.

Jacobs piled in with a few blows, Nixon McLean with a few more. They put on what amounted to a monumental 44 for the ninth wicket. It was not riches but it spared their side fearful embarrassment. The pitch had not been the type that we became used to seeing at The Oval for most of the past two decades but it was good enough for batting. What they lacked was batsmanship both in technique and spirit.

The lead was a difficult one to judge for England. They needed to extend it but in pursuit of victory they did not dare give the West Indies a sniff of victory. Not now, not after 31 years, not even on behalf of brighter cricket. Atherton and his bright new partner started well again. The veteran opener, as if determined to question reports of the past few days about his retirement next year, pushed forward with a good stride, left more extravagantly than usual.

Trescothick, too, played it late but then he was out, caught at slip as Ambrose came round the wicket. So, Hussain entered. Nobody wished him ill. His part in the semi-renaissance of English cricket is not to be overplayed. But he needed runs and he needed them now.

They did not give him an opportunity to notch, of course. Several times he set off, only to be hare back to his crease. He was at that point when a single, any single would have doneand he might have been off and running.

He fell leg before to McLean delivering from wide of the crease. The ball pitched outside off stump, came in, struck Hussain on the pads and probably, almost certainly, would not have straightened enough to hit the stumps.

Those are the decisions you get. They immediately trooped off for bad light and re-emerged only briefly. England led by 187 and their captain would not have traded it for anything. Well, maybe one measly run.

Cornhill Test scoreboard

West Indies won toss

England - First Innings 281 (M A Atherton 83, M E Trescothick 78)

West Indies First Innings

S L Campbell b Cork 20 (Inside edge from forcing back-foot shot; 91 min, 74 balls, 3 fours) A F G Griffith c Hick b White 6 (Sharp slip catch from flashing drive; 97 min, 64 balls) W W Hinds lbw b Cork 2 (Hit on front pad by ball swing back into him; 13 min, 7 balls) B C Lara b White 0 (Bowled round legs by swinging ball; 1 min, 1 ball) *J C Adams c Hick b Cork 5 (Edge off push at wide ball; 37 min, 17 balls) R R Sarwan c Trescothick b White 5 (High catch at fourth slip from push at wide ball; 7 min, 8 balls) ÿR D Jacobs not out 26 (118 min, 61 balls, 2 fours) M V Nagamootoo c Trescothick b Gough 18 (Sharp catch from firm shot to gully; 24 min, 22 balls, 3 fours) C E L Ambrose lbw b Caddick 0 (Missed huge swing at straight ball; 5 min, 1 ball) N A M McLean b White 29 (Inside edge on to stumps from defensive shot; 53 min, 46 balls, 5 fours) C A Walsh b White 5 (Neck and crop through the gate; 9 min, 10 balls, 1 four) Extras (lb3 nb6) 9 Total (232 min, 50.5 overs) 125

Fall: 1-32 (Campbell), 2-32 (Griffith), 3-32 (Lara), 4-34 (Hinds), 5-39 (Sarwan), 6-51 (Adams), 7-74 (Nagamootoo), 8-75 (Ambrose), 9-119 (McLean), 10-125 (Walsh).

Bowling: Bowling: Gough 13-3-25-1 (nb4) (10-2-16-0 3-1-9-1), Caddick 18-7-42-1 (nb2) (10-6-13-0 1-0-4-0 7-1-25-1), White 11.5-1-32-5 (5-1-11-3 6.5-0-21-2), Cork 8-3-23-3 (6-2-21-3 2-1-2-0).

Progress: Third day: 50 in 135 min, 29.2 overs. Lunch 86-8 (Jacobs 15, McLean 8) 38 overs. 100 in 192 min, 41.3 overs. Innings closed 2.34pm .

England - Second innings

M A Atherton not out 20 (96 min, 72 balls) M E Trescothick c Lara b Ambrose 7 (Edge to first slip off fine seaming ball; 52 min, 36 balls, 1 four) N Hussain lbw b McLean 0 (Trapped on crease by nip-backer; 25 min, 15 balls) G P Thorpe not out 2 (17 min, 11 balls) Extras (lb2) 2 Total (for 2, 96 min, 22.2 overs) 31

Fall: 1-21 (Trescothick), 2-29 (Hussain).

Bowling: Ambrose 9-3-11-1, Walsh 11-5-13-0, McLean 2.2-0-5-1 (one spell each).

Progress: Rain stopped play 3.21-3.43pm 17-0 (Atherton 11, Trescothick 5) 8.3 overs - early tea. RSP 4.28-4.52pm 29-2 (Atherton 20, Thorpe 0) 18.3 overs. Bad light stopped play 5.08pm.

Umpires: D J Harper and D R Shepherd

TV Replay Umpire: B Leadbeater Match Referee: R S Madugalle

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition