First Test Match

West Indies v England

West Indies won by seven wickets, a heavy and disappointing result for England considering that by lunchtime on the fourth day they were in a position to save the match and perhaps even win it.

In the end batting failures on the first and fourth days were decisive. This was the West Indies' first Test win at home since 1965 and defeat was England's first in the Caribbean since 1954.

Kanhai took the initiative from the start by putting England in on a damp pitch. Such a move is fairly normal in Trinidad, yet even he must have been surprised by the speed and size of his success. By the end of the opening day England had been dismissed for 131 and his own batsmen were at the crease.

The decisive happening came fifteen minutes after the start when Boycott hooked Boyce to long leg and was caught. Without Boycott it was always accepted that England would labour, yet it was depressing that batsmen brought up in the variable conditions of county cricket should have struggled so. The seaming ball confounded them all, so that Greig alone made any impression.

As so often happens, the England bowlers performed with more heart than the batsmen and by the time the West Indies score reached 147 half the side were out, including the dangerous trio of Lloyd, Sobers and Kanhai. Kallicharran alone, at that stage, held England off, and by the end of the second day he had made 142.

Off the last ball of that day there occurred an extraordinary incident which led to angry crowd scenes and a long meeting in the pavilion of cricket officials from both camps. Julien played the ball to Greig at silly point and turned for the pavilion. So did some of the England fielders, while Knott pulled out the stumps. With Kallicharran walking down the pitch, Greig threw the ball at the stumps at the bowler's end and Kallicharran was given run out.

After a two hour meeting with the England team besieged in their dressing room the West Indies Board issued a statement saying that in the interests of cricket generally and this tour in particular the appeal had been withdrawn and Kallicharran would resume his innings next morning. It was emphasised that the umpire, Sang Hue, had been correct in his decision.

So after expressions of regret from Carr and Greig, Kallicharran took his score to 158. Yet the damage then was done by Julien who, having scored a century in his previous meeting with England -- at Lord's in August -- this time finished with 86 not out. He received flamboyant support from Boyce who struck 26 runs in ten balls and then departed.

With a lead of 261 on the first innings it seemed that West Indies would win at will, despite the easing of the pitch. But Boycott and Amiss halted the retreat with an opening partnership of 209, a new record for England in the West Indies.

For four and a quarter hours they stayed together with scarcely an error between them. Then soon after the start of play on the fourth morning Boycott was caught at short leg off Gibbs for 93. His was batting up to his own highest standards and it says everything for Amiss that he played an innings of equal quality. His 174 scored in six hours forty minutes was not only his highest innings for England, it was also his best in terms of quality.

At lunch, England were 315 for one and optimistic. By tea they were 378 for eight and despondent. Gibbs, the off-spinner, who had reached 99 for one finished with six for 108. Yet it was Sobers, bowling slow left hand, who had torn the heart out of the innings by taking three wickets for two runs in fifteen balls, including among his victims Amiss, who fell to an lbw decision that caused some discussion.

A final target of 132 represented little challenge to the West Indies, although Underwood emphasised what might have been when he dismissed Kallicharran and Lloyd in one over. Another 150 runs would have provided an interesting game with perhaps an interesting finish.

Incidentally, Underwood in the West Indies first innings dismissed Sobers for the first time in first-class cricket.

© John Wisden & Co