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Sunday, 30 November 2008





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Trueman match bag of 11 for 152

Lord's Test drawn, but was a jewel of series

CRICKET: The 1963 West Indies tour of England produced by far the most exciting and dramatic Test series ever played between the countries in England. For once, an outrageously talented West Indian side, armed with an intimidating pace attack and packed with powerful stroke-makers, failed to achieve a walk-over.

Although eventually defeated in the series, England rose to the Caribbean challenge with some inspired cricket that was at times almost a match for the visitors in fire and flair.

This Lord's Test was the jewel of the series - although it was the only drawn match, and played in grim June weather that constantly interrupted proceedings with bad light and rain.

A result was possible as the last ball was being bowled. England needed six runs to win with its last wicket pair together. David Allen played Hall's last ball defensively forward.

West Indies batted first and Conrad Hunte opened the game with a flourish like a fanfare of trumpets, 3 fours off the first 3 balls from Freddie Trueman.

In the West Indies first innings, Garfield Sobers and Rohan Kannai threatened to break away, adding 63 runs at a run a minute, but both were eventually trapped before they could make a big innings. Trueman was at his most fiery best, taking 6 for 100, although he suffered the indignity of being slogged for four boundaries by his arch enemy Wes Hall.

England's response to the West Indies 301 was a roller-coaster of an innings.

At first it seemed the pace attack of Hall and Griffith, with the West Indians in the crowd backing them, would rip England apart.

But with 2 wickets down for 20, Ted Dexter stood up to Hall and hit him fearlessly through the covers for four. Dexter reached 50 in 48 minutes and had made 70 out of a team score of 102 for 3 wickets when Sobers trapped him leg before wicket. Still England were drifting to a substantial first innings deficit, slipping to 206 for 6 wickets - the Titmus - not asked to bowl in the West Indies - even a ball, Titmus made 56 not out and took England to within four of their opponents total.

Butcher - glorious century

In the second innings, West Indies reduced possibly the strongest batting side of the world to 104 for 5 wickets. The great Sobers, dropped at slip by Close when on 4, still made only 8 - caught behind off Trueman. Basil Butcher hit a glorious century (133) and aided by Frank Worrell playing in his last Lord's Test, restored West Indian dominance. By the end of the 3rd day, the West Indies were 218 ahead with 5 wickets still to fall.

Start of the 4th day saw West Indies innings fall apart in a remarkable collapse. Trueman and Shackleton rattled down the last 5 wickets in just 25 minutes, bringing Trueman's match figures to 11 for 152.

England needed 234 to win with ample time, weather permitting.

But things didn't turn out to be rosy for England and they were soon in trouble at 31 for 3 wickets, Lance Gibbs accounted for Dexter, but more typical was the dismissal of opener Mickey Stewart, caught off his gloves as he ducked to evade a Hall bouncer.

Cowdrey and Barrington dug in, though constantly battered on the hand and body. With the score at 72, a ball from Hall reared and struck Cowdrey on the left arm. The batsman was helped off the field in dreadful pain, the bone in his forearm broken.

Barrington's immediate response says much of England's spirit in this match, 2 sixes hit into the grandstand off Gibbs next over. When play was called off for bad light just after, England needed 118 to win.

The match did not resume until lunch on the final day. When the persistent drizzle went away, there were 200 minutes play left and Hall and Griffith powered the ball - the first hour produced only 18 runs. By tea, with Barrington and Parks and, England were 171 for 5 wickets still needing 63 runs in 85 minutes.

The hero of the innings was Brian Close - he weathered the storm of Hall and Griffith for almost 4 hours. He also struck some powerful blows to the boundary. Close went on to make 50.

With 45 minutes to go, England needed 34 runs to win and looked as if they would get there, even though the West Indies were only bowling 14 overs an hour.

Wickets tumbled

Wickets tumbled again - Titmus was out for 11 and Trueman for a 'duck' - England now had 2 wickets left, plus the injured Cowdrey.

Close progressed to 70 and England were 15 runs away victory. He then swung once too often and the score was 219 for 8 wickets. Shackleton and Allen - the last fit batsmen scrambled singles. Finally 8 runs were needed off the last over by Hall in near darkness.

Singles came off the 2nd and 3rd balls. The fourth delivery Shackleton was run out. As the ball went through to the wicketkeeper, Allen ran. Shackleton was slow to start, Murray threw the ball to Worrell at short-leg and the two oldest men in the match raced one another along the pitch, Worrell winning by a length to knock down the wicket and run Shackleton out.

So down the steps of the pavilion walked Colin Cowdrey, his arm in plaster, intending if necessary to bat one-handed. But Allen defied Hall's last two deliveries and the players raced off the field, mobbed by a roaring hysterical crowd.

Minutes later, a cloudburst deluged Lord's in torrential rain. It was ironic that one of the greatest Test matches ever played should have been a rain-ruined draw!


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