Lawson’s 6-0 spell devastates Bangladesh

Stabroek News
December 11, 2002

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JERMAINE LAWSON, the strapping 20-year-old Jamaican with the traditional physique and pace of the great West Indies fast bowlers, produced one of Test cricket’s most devastating spells here yesterday to condemn hopeless Bangladesh to yet another massive loss in the first of two Tests in the series.

Playing his third Test, Lawson dispatched the last six second innings wickets in 15 balls without conceding a run with fast, late, full length inswingers as Bangladesh collapsed to 87 all out, the lowest total in their 16 Tests and defeat by an innings and 310 runs with 19.1 overs remaining on the third day.

Lawson’s final figures were six for three from 6.5 overs on a hard, true pitch under a clear, blue sky.

No bowler in the 125 years of Test cricket, had taken six wickets in an innings as cheaply.

The previous standard was Arthur Gilligan’s six for seven on an uncovered, rain-affected pitch that helped England rout South Africa for 30 at Edgbaston in 1924.

Lawson started with three wickets in four balls in his fifth over, Aminul Islam and captain Khaled Mashud first ball and first innings topscorer Asok Kapali second ball, all given plainly lbw by English umpire David Shepherd.

Left-hander Enamul Haque edged a catch to the keeper off the fifth ball of his next over and Lawson finished the match by bowling Nos. 10 and 11 Tapash Baisya and Talha Jubair with the third and fifth balls of his seventh over.

Lawson led his back-slapping, applauding team-mates off the field, triumphantly holding a souvenir stump but to a backdrop of jeering from a crowd of some 5,000 scattered around the vast, 30-000-seat Bangabandhu Stadium.

They were clearly and justifiably disgruntled by their side’s abject failure. It happened so rapidly that adjudicators had to change their Man-of-the-Match award that, until Lawson’s intervention, was earmarked for Ramnaresh Sarwan for his 119 in the West Indies innings.

Instead, the fast bowler was the one collecting the US$1,000 cheque at the end.

It was the second time in less than three weeks that Lawson, on his first full tour with the West Indies, had emphatically announced his arrival in international cricket.

In the decisive seventh and final match in the one-day series against India in Vijayawada on November 24, he virtually guaranteed the series-clinching West Indies victory by removing the first four batsmen in his opening burst. Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Dinesh Mongia and Rahul Dravid were appreciably more reputable victims.

Yet it was not until his fifth over, the 28th of the innings, that Lawson, acting on advice from fellow fast bowler Pedro Collins, corrected a flaw in his delivery that was causing him to repeatedly spray the ball down the leg side.

Collins is in his 16th Test and something of a veteran to his less seasoned colleagues.

It was a measure of the harmony in a young and enthusiastic team. “Pedro came across to me and said I was falling away on delivery,” he related.

“He told me to keep my left arm straight and keep it up longer.”

“I did that, ran closer to the stumps and found the ball started swinging a lot towards the shiny side,” he added.

It was the modern phenomenon of so-called reverse swing in action.

“All I wanted to do then was get it in the right area and that’s what I managed to do,” Lawson said.

It was then that the procession started. Rolled over for 139 in their first innings, Bangladesh had to wait until mid-afternoon before the West Indies reply ended at 536.

The extension of the innings was purely for the expressed, if cynical, purpose of giving Ridley Jacobs, captain in his first Test as stand-in for the injured Carl Hooper, a chance of gathering his third Test hundred.

He was 14 at the start but he ran out of partners and was left unbeaten 91 when Lawson was last out to a slip catch, the third time Jacobs had been left stranded, unbeaten in the 90s.

Daren Ganga’s opportunity for cheap runs was wasted when he was run out for 40 by Hannan Sarkar’s direct hit of the bowler’s stumps and, while Vasbert Drakes, Darren Powell and Collins all managed some telling blows, Lawson couldn’t hang on long enough.

Perhaps he was thinking of later business.

Bangladesh’ quick demise was initially sealed by Drakes, the belated Test debutant at 33, who claimed the first three wickets to add to his four of the first innings following a bright start of 30 by young openers Sarkar and Anwar Hossain.

Sarkar, who had been out first ball of the match, stroked five fours in 25 before his ambitious stroke off the back foot presented a catch to gully.

Mohammad Ashraful, the promising 17-year-old, was bowled four balls later on the drive and Hossain’s 19th birthday, and his tea, was spoiled when he had his unprotected off stump hit the ball before the interval.

Habibul Bashar and Aminul Islam, Bangladesh’s two most experienced batsmen, held firm for an hour but when Habibul was lbw in the first over of a second spell by Collins, it triggered Lawson’s rapid termination.

He’ll be back at it again in the second and final Test in Chittagong but has until the start next Monday to rest and appreciate his feat.

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