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CARIBBEAN - cricket test match
by PHILIP SPOONER
AT ANTIGUA RECREATION GROUND – England’s captain Michael Vaughan put the finishing touches on a wonderful tour for his side, as he smoothly strolled to a classy century on the final day of thisfour-match series.
The skipper, who struggled throughout the trip failing to reach a half-century, made the most of the benign surface to register 140 – the fourth ton of the drawn contest which saw1 458 runs made for the lossof just 20 wickets.
It was the 11th century of Vaughan’s flourishing career, and his highest scoresince being named captainlast summer.
He was crowned in glory in the post-match ceremony as he raised the Wisden Trophy, the reward for his side’s comprehensive 3-0 win in the series. This visit was historic and marked the first time since 1968 that England conquered the West Indies at home.
It was also significant that West Indies did not win a match in the series – only the second time since 1973 that the home side failed to win a match in a series in the region. The other occasion was the two-Test series against Zealand two years ago. Only one other side in history has ever pulled offa 3-0 win in the Caribbean- Ian Johnson’s Australianside in 1955.
“This (series win) was a fantastic achievement and I hope everyone’s as happy as I am right now,” the forthright Yorkshireman said yesterday evening. “We are a pretty young side and we did really well.
"What we did here (in Caribbean) was absolutely amazing. We were brilliant from start to finish.”
Vaughan had watched earlier in the series as some of his batsman and all his main bowlers grabbed the headlines. Yesterday he made sure that his name would feature as well. One foot soldier he admired was tall fast bowler Steve Harmison, who made a name for himself with 23 wickets at 14.86 each. He started the series with seven for 12 in Jamaica and ended yesterday collecting the keys to a Suzuki, the reward for being named Man-Of-The-Series.
Starting the day on 61, the skipper generally looked untroubled and severalsilky-smooth drives were the hallmark of his century. He made sure he got forward early and this helped to negate any swing or movement the West Indies bowlers were tryingto get.
He moved to his century with a flowing drive to the cover boundary which bisected Brian Lara’s umbrella field. Immediately he shouted with delight and clenched his fist, recapturing memories of the image which graced the coverof the 2003 edition ofWisden Almanack.
That boundary was his 13th and came off his 210th ball, after five hours of hard work and determination at the crease. After reaching the landmark he unleashed another seven boundaries before gloving a catch to Ridley Jacobs to give Ramnaresh Sarwan the first of his two wickets.
Even though Vaughan had showed his class, England were never totally dominant and every time a wicket fell the West Indies seemed in with a chance of forcing a victory.
In the morning session, Marcus Trescothick never got his feet going and fell for 88 to a clever piece of bowling from Fidel Edwards. Realising that the batsman favours the backfoot, Edwards slowed up a full-length delivery, which Trescothick tapped into Sarwan’s hands at cover.
The bowler then did his celebration of wagging his fingers in front his eyes,which signifies the batsman didn’t see or understand what was happening.
Veterans Mark Butcher and Nasser Hussain, the two who propped up England in the first two victories at Sabina Park and Queen’s Park Oval, made sure they did not miss out. Butcher got 61 to follow up his first innings 52 and made him the side’s leading runscorer with 296 runs. He lost it however and slogged at Ryan Hinds’ persevering left-arm spin to be caught at slip.
Hussain, like Butcher acknowledging the importance of using up time, got 56 before being bowled around his leg by Hinds. Andrew Flintoff, the first innings century-maker, lost the plot and smashed a Sarwanfull toss into Brian Lara’s hands at midwicket.
The West Indies captain threw the ball high in the air; know that with England at 408 for five and still in deficit by 58, there was an opening.
He summoned Edwards, his fastest bowler, who was getting reverse swing, but he could make no impact. Lara called a truce at 4:45 p.m. signalling the end to an enthralling matchand fascinating series.
The West Indies had toiled hard. Hinds sent down 38 overs, the most of his first-class career, and should definitely feature when Bangladesh come here next month. Sarwan got the ball to turn and bounce, and has been improving when ever given the opportunity.
Tino Best worked hard but got no reward.
Always willing to do thejob, he steamed in from the northern end and was likenedto Popeye when pumped up with a can of spinach.
That’s the kind of effort the West Indies need throughout on a long-term and sustained basis. Other members of the team should take the cue and set high standards like Best does and seek to achieve them.
He seems the old-fashioned brave-hearted player and this could possibly have come from the fact that as a little boy he was a fixture in the Barbados dressing room in the era of Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner when his great uncle Carlisle Best was one of the region’s premier batsmen.
At the post-match ceremony the Barmy Army saluted him. But, as expected, most of their cheers were for Vaughan, the “Grand Ole Duke Of York”, who marched to the top of the hill.
West Indies 1st innings 751-5 declared (Lara 400 not out, Jacobs 107 not out, Sarwan 90)
England 1st innings
(Flintoff 102 not out, Collins 4-76)
England 2nd innings
– follow-on (overnight 145-0)
M Trescothick c Sarwan b Edwards 88
M Vaughan c wk Jacobs b Sarwan 140
M Butcher c Gayle b Hinds 61
N Hussain b Hinds 56
G Thorpe not out 23
A Flintoff c Lara b Sarwan 14
G Jones not out 10
Extras (b4, lb7, w3, nb16) 30
Total (5 wkts, 137 overs) 422
Wkts fell at: 1-182 (Trescothick, 56.5 overs),2-274 (Vaughan, 87.6), 3-366 (Butcher, 113.3), 4-387 (Hussain, 121.3), 5-408 (Flintoff, 130.3)
Bowling: Best 16-1-57-0 (w2), Edwards20-2-81-1 (nb8, w1), Collymore 18-3-58-0, Powell 8-0-36-0, Hinds 38-8-83-2 (nb2), Gayle 17-6-36-0 (nb2), Sarwan 12-2-26-2, Collins 8-2-34-0 (nb4)
Man-Of-The-Match: Brian Lara
Man-Of The-Series: Steve Harmison
Umpires: Darrel Hair (Australia), Aleem Dar (Pakistan); Television umpire: Billy Doctrove (Dominica); Reserve: Clancy Mack (Antigua)
Result: Match drawn (England won series 3-0)
1st Test: England won by innings & 10 wickets.
2nd Test : England won by 7 wickets
3rd Test: England won by 8 wickets
Compliments of the Nation News
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