OTHERS

Purposeless West Indies batsmen struggle

NOTTINGHAM, JULY 20. There was no purpose to the ninth one-day international of the tri-series at Trent Bridge on Thursday except to entertain a capacity crowd which had bought its tickets early thinking the game might settle who reached Saturday's final. The cricket reflected the game's nothing status until Marcus Trescothick went to the wicket and produced yet another innings of power and grace.

For no reason connected with the pitch the shambling West Indies struggled to 195 without a shot of distinction in 50 overs and England needed only to put together a workmanlike performance in the field to pin the West Indians down to a gettable total. In reply England was 141 for six in 39 overs.

Trescothick hit three off drives to the boundary in the first two overs, another in the fifth and pulled a four in the sixth so that he had 20 out of 29; all in fours. He missed a leg side long hop in the ninth and was caught behind in the 11th. He had already shown us just what he possesses.

Greater experts than I have written eloquently about his simple method but it is easy to see that here is a very special cricketer indeed. The selectors have already decided he must play in the third Test. It might be interesting to wonder what would have happened if the Lord's match had not been affected by rain. England was 158 for eight and might have defended 180. Lets put that down to optimism. If it had failed this series might have turned out differently but you have to concede that it has grown in stature as the series progressed and in the rise of Trescothick, the tighter bowling and the tail-end batting it has plus points to cheer any dressing room.

For the first 10 overs, even though Chris Gayle played and missed more often than he hit, 40 runs came and it seemed that Nasser Hussain had been mistaken in his decision to send West Indies in to bat. Sherwin Campbell was out in the eighth, the first of four to play on, but the troubles began when the normally fluent Wavell Hinds took 34 minutes to get off the mark and only six more runs were added by the 15th over.

Any pair of batsmen who allow the 15th over to go by for just one run are not up with the pace and it was no surprise when Hinds went after a wild swish to backward point and Gayle was caught at short extra cover in the 20th over. Without Brian Lara, still suffering from a hamstring tear, there was no excitement and when Jimmy Adams settled in for a long stay there were very few strokes.

Ramnaresh Sarwan played one or two nervous but stylish shots for 20 before he was out in the most extraordinary way. His drive off Craig White spun up into the air and caught the underside of his bat as he completed the stroke. It went straight down behind him and bounced on to the stumps. Sarwan is the great young hope, a Guyana player since he was 15 and in line for a Test place here.

If he had been playing in the back streets of Georgetown a few years ago he might have had a sympathetic ``hard luck'' for his dismissal but in the tough world of international cricket no-one took any notice as he mooched away, clearly hurt by this kick from sporting fortune.

Ricardo Powell and Ridley Jacobs went without leaving any impression except that they too were suffering from whatever malaise has overtaken the West Indies since it won the first Test. Adams played on to Alan Mullally at 139 after nudging his way to 37 and a complete collapse seemed on the cards. Only Franklyn Rose made a worthwhile contribution and it has to be said that many of his 29 came off the edge. White, with three for 35, took his series aggregate to eight wickets.