Walsh cuts down Kiwis

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The Independent Online
West Indies 660-5 dec

New Zealand 216 and 52-3

At 32, he is the oldest of fast bowlers in contemporary Test cricket and, after 70 Tests dating back to 1984, he is the longest serving. But, like the finest Jamaican rum, Courtney Walsh simply gets better with age.

On a pitch on which his batsmen amassed 660 for 5 declared over the first two days and rated by one of the three century-makers, Jimmy Adams, "nine point plenty" on a scale of 10, the durable West Indies captain destroyed the already deflated New Zealanders with 8 for 43 from 20.4 overs on the third day of the second Test.

His 7 for 37 in the first innings was his best return and left New Zealand, all out for 216, hopelessly behind by 444. He enforced the follow-on and comprehensively bowled the opener Bryan Young with his sixth ball for his 250th Test wicket. That carried him past his fellow Jamaican, club colleague, great friend and mentor, Michael Holding, to fourth place on the list of West Indian Test wicket-takers.

While neither of his other fast bowlers, Curtly Ambrose and Kenny Benjamin, could make an impression, Walsh, for most of his days the into-the-wind counter to those fast and more favoured, expertly used the advantage of the strong Wellington breeze at his back.

After three fruitless overs running into it and the realisation that Ambrose was not about to blow a gasket straining to get something out of the bland surface, Walsh switched ends, with immediate results. He took wickets in each of his first two overs and each time he returned thereafter. He struck again in his second spell just before tea, claiming his third wicket in the second of four overs. In his final, he rounded off the innings with 4 for 16, New Zealand losing their last eight wickets for 113 after lunch. By the time Walsh transferred his ends early in the day, he had already introduced Rajindra Dhanraj's leg-spin into the breeze and, with the confidence of a mammoth score behind him, Dhanraj operated unchanged for 33 consecutive overs. Researchers feverishly and unsuccessfully tried to trace the last West Indian spin bowler to have been used to such an extent.

Dhanraj's return of two wickets did not reveal the number of times he confused the batsmen and Walsh paid tribute to him afterwards for his role in the rout.

New Zealand slumped to 15 for 3 in their second innings and there were visions of England's capitulation for 46 in Trinidad last year but Murray and Fleming were again stubborn enough to see them through to close without further loss.

(Third day; West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES - First Innings 660 for 5 dec (J C Adams 151, B C Lara 147, J R Murray 101no).

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 23 for 0)

B A Young lbw b Walsh 29

D J Murray lbw b Ambrose 52

A H Jones c Murray b Walsh 0

*K R Rutherford lbw b Dhanraj 22

S P Fleming c Lara b Walsh 47

S A Thomson b Walsh 6

A C Parore c Adams b Walsh 32

M N Hart c Lara b Dhanraj 0

M L Su'a c Murray b Walsh 6

S Doull b Walsh 0

D K Morrison not out 0

Extras (lb14 b1 nb7) 22

Total 216

Fall: 1-50 2-52 3-108 4-135 5-160 6-196 7-197 8-207 9-211.

Bowling: Ambrose 19-9-32-1; Walsh 20.4-7-37-7 (nb3); Dhanraj 33-6-97- 2; Benjamin 12-1-35-0 (nb4).

NEW ZEALAND - Second Innings

B A Young b Walsh 0

D J Murray not out 13

A H Jones lbw b Benjamin 2

*K R Rutherford lbw b Ambrose 5

S P Fleming not out 28

Extras (nb4) 4

Total (for 3) 52

Fall: 1-0 2-3 3-15.

Bowling (to date): Walsh 3-1-6-1; Benjamin 5-0-20-1 (nb4); Ambrose 5- 1-17-1; Dhanraj 2-1-9-0.

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