Fluent Astle delays inevitable defeat

Cricket: New Zealand 195 and 305 West Indies 472 and 29-0 (West Indies win by 10 wickets)
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The Independent Online


reports from Bridgetown Barbados

New Zealand 195 and 305 West Indies 472 and 29-0 (West Indies win by 10 wickets)

They did not have the ultimate satisfaction of an innings victory but the West Indies yesterday completed their triumph in the first Test against New Zealand emphatically enough in mid-afternoon of the fourth day.

They were held up for an hour at the beginning by the contrasting overnight pair, Nathan Astle and the dogged left-hander Justin Vaughan, and at the end by a carefree last-wicket stand between the fast bowlers Danny Morrison and Robert Kennedy that obliged them to bat again.

Astle, a forthright right-hander from Auckland previously rated only as a one-day specialist, was on 82 at the beginning and continued as he had left off on Sunday afternoon, thumping anything loose from the West Indies fast quartet with a free flow of his confident bat.

He and Vaughan carried their partnership to 144, a New Zealand record for the fifth wicket in Tests against the West Indies, before Bishop produced a good one to have Vaughan leg before. The left-hander's 24 had lasted two and three quarter hours and he did not venture any stroke aggressive enough for a boundary.

In exciting contrast Astle duly went past his maiden hundred in only his third Test and when he was finally taken at second slip driving at the newest of the West Indian fast men, Patterson Thompson, for 125 he had hit two sixes and 22 fours, a remarkable percentage of boundaries.

The New Zealanders then quickly subsided with Bishop and captain Courtney Walsh chipping away at their lower order. Their innings win appeared certain when Kennedy joined Morrison, whose 23 ducks in Test cricket is a reasonable reflection of his batting ability. Young Kennedy hammered his first ball to mid-off for four, Morrison chose to follow his example and they rattled up 45 in just over half an hour until Walsh had Kennedy taken at short leg. His four wickets for 72 carried his tally to 307 in Tests, level with Freddie Trueman's mark and only two short of Lance Gibbs, the second highest West Indian wicket-taker.

While a group of New Zealanders performed their version of the Haka on the boundary's edge, Sherwin Campbell indulged in the batting bacchanal that he had not allowed himself in his marathon 208 in the first innings. He made all the runs on his own, crashing six boundaries, three in succession to formalise the result.