Fidel's day at Sabina
By Donald Duff in Kingston, Jamaica
March 13, 2004
Not even the rain could put a damper on Fidel Edwards yesterday.
Despite two stoppages for rain, after tea, the 22-year-old Barbadian, on the very Sabina Park ground where he grabbed five wickets for 36 runs in his debut against Sri Lanka, ripped out three of England's most accomplished batsmen to give the West Indies some foothold at the end of a fluctuating day's play.
When a light drizzle sent the players off for the second and final time, after Graham Thorpe had hurriedly evaded a short lifting delivery from Tino Best, England, replying to the West Indies 311 all out, were 154 for three off 48.1 overs.
They enter today's third day trailing the West Indies by 157 runs and with only the wicketkeeper Chris Read, Andrew Flintoff and the rest of the bowlers to come.
It was, as Mark Butcher put it at the post-match press conference, a "match in the balance".
Butcher himself must have been disappointed. After putting on a 119-run partnership for the third wicket with former captain Nasser Hussain that threatened to put the game out of the West Indies reach, the weather dealt him a blow even crueler than the short-pitched delivery from Best which crashed into his helmet off the final ball of the pre-lunch session.
Forced to sit for two hours after rain sent the players off the field on the stroke of tea, Butcher must not have been pleased by umpires Daryl Harper and Billy Bowden's decision to resume the game at 5 pm in what he said afterwards were gloomy conditions.
West Indies Captain Brian Lara certainly wasn't and he had a heated dispute with the umpires only to drop Butcher soon after.
Lara, fielding at first slip, failed to hold onto a catch as the batsman cut hard at a delivery from Edwards.
It was later revealed that Lara dislocated the little finger of his right hand attempting the catch. And despite the finger being put back in place was nonetheless sent to the hospital for precautionary x-rays.
It was Edwards' third wicket for the day. He had earlier set Sabina Park in an uproar with the dismissals of Marcus Trescothick and England skipper Michael Vaughan.
The two openers had begun England's reply facing up to Edwards and surprisingly Corey Collymore whom Lara preferred to the fiery Best, probably more for his control than anything else.
Despite two confident appeals against Vaughan by Collymore, it was Edwards who made the breakthrough.
He had begun badly with his first delivery to Vaughan being a no-ball. Vaughan seemed to take a liking to the youngster pulling him square for four then cover driving him for another boundary two balls later as England raced to 230.
But then came the delivery which changed things. Trescothick was unsettled by a `snorter' which nearly took his head off and which wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs took acrobatically with his lefthand. The ball was deemed a wide by Bowden, who also indicated it was the first short-pitched ball of the over. But Edwards had the perfect followup. He bowled a full-length delivery, which again was in excess of 94 mph and pitched just on or about off-stump. It saw Trescothick coming down late on the shot. He got an inside edge onto the ball, which sent his offstump cart-wheeling. Sabina Park was in an uproar.
It took a full five minutes for the noise to subside and even more, it seemed, before Butcher appeared.
Lightning, they say does not strike twice but Edwards struck again with his lightning-fast delivery in the next over. This time it was the England captain who, driving at one which had a little movement, edged a catch to Lara who grabbed at the ball again as it attempted to drop from his grasp, his 137th catch.
With the score at 33 for two, the West Indies and their fans in the stands felt more success was just around the corner. They were wrong. Hussain and Butcher began the repair job aided by lady luck who smiled on Butcher when Ramnaresh Sarwan at forward shortleg put down Butcher off a bat/pad chance from the irrepressible Edwards.
Best replaced Collymore. But despite his aggression failed to get his first Test wicket in what is his second Test. The closest he came was when a vicious bouncer appeared to touch Hussain's glove, but umpire Harper ruled correctly even though Best went charging down the pitch almost sure he had done it.
Hussain and Butcher weathered the Best/Edwards storm and took the score to 51 for two at lunch.
The post-lunch session was all England's. Lara, probably deciding to give his main strike bowler a long rest did not call on Edwards for another hour and Best only until 20 minutes before tea. Meanwhile, Collymore toiled away from the Blue Mound End with Adam Sanford operating from the George Headley end.
The two proved largely ineffective and Butcher flicked Collymore behind square for his fourth boundary which also brought up the 50-run partnership between the two.
Hussain was content to play the supporting role to Butcher who brought up the England 100 by driving Collymore through extracover for a couple. The England 100 came in 150 minutes, from 191 balls, with the second 50 taking only 57 minutes.
Butcher was then 38 and Hussain 18 and Lara was forced to bring back Edwards who peppered Butcher with consecutive bouncers, the first of which forced the batsman to move his head out of the way at the last minute.
The second, however, struck the batsman on the helmet as he essayed a hook shot. But Butcher was not daunted and he duly reached his half-century from 112 balls in 160 minutes with six fours, flicking Edwards through midwicket for three.
In the same over, Hussain brought up the 100 partnership between the two with a single and at tea England were 145 for two with Butcher 53 not out and Hussain 40 not out; then came the 150-minute rain delay.
When the skies finally cleared, Edwards again went to work removing Butcher to leave the battle for the Wisden Trophy intriguingly poised.
Earlier, the West Indies, resuming on their overnight 311 for nine, failed to add to the total lasting just 12 balls.
Matthew Hoggard ended the innings with three for 68, by having Edwards smartly taken low to his left at second slip by Flintoff.
Harmison two for 61, Jones two for 62, Giles two for 67 and Flintoff one for 45 were the wicket-takers.