Richardson wins back confidence

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The Independent Online

reports from Chester-le-Street

Durham 364-8 dec and 31-0 West Indies 462-5 dec

The West Indies innings was a satisfying and colourful patchwork of strokes against an amiable attack on a benign pitch on the second day of their match here.

Brian Lara and Sherwin Campbell produced some unforgettable moments. Richie Richardson, who batted more than 3 hours for his 101 not out, made much his biggest innings of the tour so far, and Courtney Browne hit a highly entertaining 102 not out after tea.

While Lara and Campbell were confirming their form from Headingley, Richardson began to overcome the insecurities and uncertainties which are always the companions of a batsman who is badly out of form, and by the end was much more at ease with himself.

With the Second Test match coming up on Thursday, these three innings were important for the West Indies. Lara destroyed the balance of the first Test with that staggering 50 in the first innings and showed now that while not always prepared to entertain in the grand manner of Headingley, he is in ominously good form.

Lara is one of the rare breed of batsmen who appears to play with the bowlers. It is almost as if he is playing many of his strokes with his tongue in his cheek. Nothing seems impossible, however daring. Barry Richards was the same when he effortlessly destroyed county attacks in his years with Hampshire.

Campbell is not overawed by Lara and his own wrists kept flashing the ball away to the offside boundary, and he was never an anticlimax in comparison to his partner. He had faced 155 balls for 113 when he was held at mid- on from a mistimed hook. He and Lara had put on 151 in 95 minutes.

A drive and an edge brought Richardson his first two falls and then he settled down when he realised he would never have a better chance than this to regain some of his lost form. At first, he was hesitant to play his strokes but the longer he was in the more his confidence returned and his back lift grew higher and the footwork became more secure. He moved sedately to 50 off 85 balls before accelerating sweetly to 100 off 130 deliveries.

Browne, the 24-year-old Barbadian wicketkeeper, struck some early boundaries that went almost unnoticed. Then, after tea, he began to play a series of handsome strokes on both sides of the wicket, ending up with a run- a-ball maiden first-class century. The declaration came after he and Richardson had reached their hundreds in the same over having put on 170 for the sixth wicket.