Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hit-Man Harmison Helps Ease Pain of '94

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hit-Man Harmison Helps Ease Pain of '94

Article excerpt


THE WEST INDIES are still one run up on the deal. But as England start preparing for Friday's Second Test there is a feeling that the books have been balanced. Finally.

Ten years after Mike Atherton's team were routed for 46 in Trinidad, Michael Vaughan's side can say they settled the score in Jamaica by hurrying their shell-shocked hosts to 47 all out.

Thanks in no small part to Australia, Test cricket seems to have become more and more a batsman's game.

Runs have never been scored more quickly (better than three per over in all Tests since the start of 2000), the average match produces two individual centuries and no fourth-innings target now seems safe.

But, thankfully for the sake of variety, bowlers still enjoy their unforgettable hours - and, when they do, the drama is simply spellbinding.

Remember that Friday evening at Lord's in the summer of 2000 when England, with Andrew Caddick stirred into action, turned a Test on its head by dismissing the West Indies for 54?

And what about a couple of months later, at Headingley? Caddick took four wickets in an over, the Windies were blown away for 61 and the match finished soon after 5pm . . . on day two.

Given those collapses, England were perhaps shortish odds to gain some revenge in the Caribbean, sooner or later, for the nightmare of 1994.

But, just as in Trinidad 10 years ago, nobody could predict such a startling crash, bang, wallop of wickets as was witnessed at Sabina Park on Sunday.

Atherton's England of a decade ago had lost heavily in Jamaica and heavier still in Guyana against a West Indian side which, though no longer looking invincible, seemed quite capable of securing another 'blackwash'.

At Queen's Park Oval, however, Atherton's side gained what should have been a crucial first-innings lead of 76, then pegged the West Indies to 143 for five second-time around. They didn't want to chase much more than 100 on a pitch of variable bounce. Instead, with the then 19-year-old Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped towards a half-century by dropped catches, the target became 194.

Even worse, England began their 'chase' late on the fourth evening with Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh cranked up for action.

Chase? It was simply a procession as Atherton, Alec Stewart, Mark Ramprakash, Robin Smith, Graeme Hick, Graham Thorpe, Ian Salisbury and Jack Russell returned to the pavilion. England were in total disarray at 40 for eight.

Perhaps even harder to bear, they had to come back for 18 minutes the following morning while Ambrose and Walsh delivered the last rites.

Sportsmen and women, from cricket to curling, talk about "getting on a roll" and letting momentum take over.

It was like that in Trinidad 10 years ago - and it was just like that in Jamaica last weekend. …

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