Giants who are ready to be slain

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The Independent Online
West Indies 449-8 dec and 176-3 dec

Somerset 301-9 dec and 159-2

Match drawn

When the West Indies continued batting past lunch yesterday with a lead of 264, and a maximum 56 overs remaining, rumour suggested that all was not well with the current strike force of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Kenny Benjamin, and that Richie Richardson intended to bat out time.

In fact, a declaration came at 2.20, a token gesture, for a target of 325 off a maximum 47 was never feasible and the notion that Richardson was protecting his bowlers gained credence. When Benjamin failed to take the field, after a break of 20 minutes rather than the regulatory 10, the "Windies rocked by injuries" headlines were already circulating.

Once Ambrose and Walsh took the new ball and ran in without undue strain the alarms subsided, but it seems Benjamin was stiff and the beds at Taunton's famous Castle Hotel, John Arlott's favourite, were to blame, being reported as "too soft". The wonder is that a hotel built on the ruins of a 12th century Norman castle had rooms, never mind beds, to accommodate the 6ft 7in Ambrose and the 6ft 6in Walsh.

Edward I of England, at six feet, was considered a giant and medieval man, average height a little over five feet, would have been awe-stricken at the mere sight of these West Indians.

Somerset, too, have been in some awe in this match, especially of Walsh who, after tea on Saturday, all but gave Richardson the option of a follow- on. Andy Hayhurst tried to re-open the match at the start yesterday by declaring 148 behind. Sherwin Campbell and Keith Arthurton enjoyed some more practice and Harvey Trump indicated that there was some turn for a good spinner.

Then came Walsh again. Marcus Trescothick, held by some to be the best of the latest Young Englanders, had an uncomfortable six overs before edging a faster lifting ball to first slip. His more experienced but even more audacious partner, Mark Lathwell, began as shakily but once both bowlers had fed his onside he settled into a characteristically aggressive innings.

Ambrose had a good canter after tea, as Walsh rested. Lathwell reached 76 off 106 balls and the crowd, on a pleasant afternoon, were happy to see professionals doing little more than exercise their skills.

However slight the physical strains may be, this West Indian side is not approaching the Texaco series in the happiest of spirits. Richardson continues a wretched run, none of the quick bowlers seems to be 100 per cent and the batting order is anyone's guess. Most of all, the anguish of Kingston seems to linger; this team now smells of defeat.