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CARIBBEAN - cricket

Miracles do happen in Test cricket.


Wednesday 14, May-2003

by Ezra Stuart - ST JOHN’S


Brooks LaTouche PhotographyEmotional West Indies players kissing the turf at the Antigua Recreation Ground after completing their historic win yesterday.

(Picture by Brooks LaTouche Photography.)

And lower order batsmen Omari Banks and Vasbert Drakes had the magic touch at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG) yesterday morning as the West Indies created history with a sensational three-wicket win over world champions Australia.

Banks and Drakes became the toast of the Caribbean when they guided the West Indies to an amazing victory target of 418 runs, 45 minutes before lunch on the final day of the fourth Cable & Wireless Test.

No side had ever successfully chased such a target in the 136-year history of Test cricket.

At the same time, West Indies also avoided the embarrassment of suffering a series whitewash in the Caribbean for the first time.

“It is the greatest cricketing experience that I’ve had and I have had quite a few,” smiling West Indies captain Brian Lara told reporters after the match.

“The team effort throughout this game was great . . . . I wish I was still out there. I’ve played Test cricket for 12 years and this has surpassed everything else.” Banks, a lanky 20-year-old Anguillan in just his second Test, made a mature unbeaten 47, showing intense concentration and composure in a magnificent three-hour display of batsmanship, while Drakes made a crucial 27 not out to steer the West Indies to the winning total.

Whereas Steve Waugh’s Australians lost the match, and with it the elusive feat of becoming the first visiting team to make a series clean sweep in the Caribbean, they will take back home the Frank Worrell Trophy.

The Aussies’ 3-1 series triumph also enabled them to regain their rightful No. 1 position in the ICC Test rankings.

It was a Test match to remember, with both teams making the identical first innings score of 240 on a bouncy ARG pitch.

Australia rebounded with a second innings total of 417, leaving the Windies their daunting target.

But the youthful West Indian outfit, starting the day on 371 for six, needing to score another 47 runs to achieve the unbelievable, duly gathered the remaining runs in 15.5 tense and nerve-racking overs while losing just one more wicket to finish on an amazing 418 for seven off 128.5 overs.

Drakes, with three fours and a six in an attacking 47-ball knock, and Banks, who faced 114 balls and struck six fours in his responsible innings, featured in an entertaining unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 46 runs.

The celebrations continued for a few hours after the match ended, as a few West Indies players and hundreds of spectators joined resident DJ Chickie in the West Indies Oil Company Stand, turning the ARG into a carnival-like atmosphere.

Only two teams, India against the West Indies in Trinidad in 1976 when they made 406 for four, and Australia against England at Headingley in 1948 with 404 for three, have scored over 400 runs to win a Test.

Compliments of the Nation News

 

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