Off-key calypso

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The Independent Online
"Calypso cricket" is a description that grates on West Indians. It was concocted by headline writers at a time when it was apt in characterising the attitude to Test cricket of mainly Saturday afternoon club players. Those days have long since passed and use of the term, with its connotations of Bacchanalian batting, has become offensive to professionals who now pride themselves as the best in the game.

No one could complain of its use yesterday, however. This was not Test match batting. At best, it would have been suited to the abbreviated form of the game.

The advantage of the toss seemed crucial for England, their ageing off- spinners, John Emburey and Mike Watkinson, hoping to capitalise on a pitch that will aid turn. A total of between 350 and 400 would have guaranteed England facing problems batting last.

Instead, one West Indies batsman after another presented his wicket with wanton strokes. First, Sherwin Campbell fell and then Carl Hooper, who tugged a short one from wide of off stump with the predictable outcome of a skied catch to square leg. Their loss unsettled the West Indian effort and, in spite of Brian Lara's assured presence, none of his partners showed an inclination to stay.

Most culpable were Keith Arthurton with a slack drive to extra cover and Junior Murray, who hoisted a straightforward delivery to the fielder placed at deep midwicket for his offering.

So, yet again, the bowlers had been left the task of retrieving the situation. One of these days it will be beyond them.