Down to the wire

Published : Apr 29, 2006 00:00 IST

FRED TRUEMAN had five of the six wickets to fall on the first day, and 11 in the match.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY
FRED TRUEMAN had five of the six wickets to fall on the first day, and 11 in the match.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

FRED TRUEMAN had five of the six wickets to fall on the first day, and 11 in the match.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

The second Test between England and the West Indies at Lord's in June 1963 had all the ingredients of a classic encounter, writes Gulu Ezekiel.

This was the cricket match that had it all — except a result. But despite ending in a draw, the second Test between England and the West Indies at Lord's in June 1963 had all the ingredients of a classic encounter — ferocious fast bowling, dazzling batting, raw courage and with the last delivery of the match to be bowled, the possibility of all four verdicts — win, loss, draw or tie.

England had been outplayed in the first Test at Old Trafford, routed by 10 wickets, and went to Lord's determined to square the series. They almost did.

A famous Test match got off to a blazing start. Frank Worrell took first strike on winning the toss and Conrad Hunte promptly smashed the first three balls of the match from Fred Trueman to the boundary!

It was the veteran Derek Shackleton, recalled to Test cricket at 38 after 12 long years, who put a brake on the scoring with his deceptive medium paced swing bowling. By lunch the score had crawled to 47 for no loss (rain delayed the start by 23 minutes).

Trueman was back after the interval to pick up the wicket of Easton McMorris for 16. Indeed he had five of the six wickets to fall on the first day as the West Indies reached 245. That included the prize scalp of Hunte for 44 and Rohan Kanhai, who top-scored with 73. Gary Sobers chipped in with a useful 42 before he fell to off-spinner David Allen.

The next morning the tireless Shackleton polished off the innings with three wickets in four balls, including Joe Solomon for 56 and the West Indians were all out for 301, Trueman six for 100.

The second day belonged to the peerless Ted Dexter, captain of England and dubbed `Lord Ted' for his imperious style on and off the field.

The fearsome (and controversial) Charlie Griffith struck immediately, removing England openers Mickey Stewart and John Edrich to leave the innings tottering at 20 for two.

Now came the magnificent counter-attack. Dexter unveiled his full range of strokes as he decided to fight fire with fire. Wes Hall and Griffith, accustomed to terrorising batsmen around the world, hardly knew what hit them. Dexter smote them all over the field with amazing power and ferocity. His 70 took just 73 balls and contained 10 fiercely hit boundaries. It is, to this day, considered one of the best Test knocks below hundred and salvaged the innings in a stand worth 82 with Ken Barrington (80) who was reduced to a mere spectator at the other end.

England finished the day at 244 for seven and now the Test was on an even keel. The next day it was tenacious batting from the tail, particularly Fred Titmus with 52 not out, that saw them reach 297 (Griffith five for 91), just four runs behind.

The stage had been set for the pulsating finish that would follow two days later.

Dexter injured his knee while batting and Colin Cowdrey took over the captaincy for the first time. His opening bowlers struck blow after blow and at 104 for five, England had grabbed the initiative. The Windies were rescued by Basil Butcher and Worrell (33) in a stand worth 110. Butcher played the knock of his life and his 133 totally dominated the West Indies score of 229 all out. When he reached his 100 — the only century of the Test match — the total read 169 for five, such was his dominance.

Trueman had 11 wickets in the match while Shackleton, famed for his stamina and accuracy, backed him up magnificently with match figures of seven for 165 from 84.2 overs.

England's target of 234 seemed pretty distant as Hall knocked over both openers and then off-spinner Lance Gibbs grabbed the one that counted, Dexter bowled for three; England tottering at 31 for three.

The overcast conditions made life tougher for the batsmen. Added to that, Lord's in those days did not have a sightscreen at the pavilion end. And then there was the notorious Lord's ridge, which made the ball fly at odd angles. In such conditions and against the most feared fast bowlers in the world, batting was a nightmare.

Once again it was the ever-reliable Barrington who came to England's rescue, standing like a rock against the thunderbolts of the West Indians.

Hall had peppered Barrington and Cowdrey with numerous bouncers as they bravely withstood the onslaught and added 41 precious runs when a sickening sound echoed round the ground.

In Cowdrey's own words: "It was a good length ball from Hall which flew, unaccountably and broke my arm just above the wrist. It made the most awful noise."

That brought in Brian Close and by the end of the fourth day the score had reached 116 for three, Barrington on 55 and Cowdrey ruled out of the innings. It was now anyone's game.

Rain and bad light meant the final day's play could not start till 2.20 p.m. Time had suddenly become a factor if England were to square the series.

Barrington though became becalmed and scratched around for five runs in 55 minutes. After an hour a miserable 18 runs had been scored and England needed 100 runs in 125 minutes.

Hall and Griffith now struck and with a clatter of wickets all around him, Close decided to take control. What unfolded was one of the most extraordinary displays of courage and bravado mixed with foolhardiness ever seen in a sporting arena.

Time and again Close charged down the wicket and took Hall's thunderbolts smack on his chest. The bowler could not believe his eyes. He was shattered and was close to tears! He even halted his run and threw the ball down in disgust as he saw Close charge down the wicket at him. It took all of Worrell's legendary leadership skills to bring things under control.

Close's ploy was to break Hall's rhythm. By the time he was dismissed by Griffith for 70, his chest was covered in a welter of bruises. Close defended his bizarre tactics: "It wasn't unthinking bravado. Far from it. I made Hall lose his cool. His line and length suffered."

As Close returned to a huge ovation, the scene looked grim for England. The score read 219 for eight and 15 runs were needed in 19 minutes with Allen and Shackleton at the crease. In the dressing room, Cowdrey was all padded up, practicing batting left-handed in front of a mirror like a schoolboy.

Just as in the Brisbane tied Test three years earlier, it was Hall who bowled the last over and it was Worrell who kept things under control. Indeed it was the captain himself who smartly ran out Shackleton with just two deliveries remaining and that produced yet another dramatic moment that has passed into legend.

His left-arm encased in plaster, Cowdrey walked out with a broad smile on his face as all round him tension rose to fever pitch. Fortunately he was at the non-striker's end.

Allen met him and revealed his plans: "I have not yet given up hope of winning. If I have the luck to get a four off the first ball, we'll scamper the last run."

That was not to be. Hall in his 40th over bowled dead straight, Allen defended grimly and the Test was drawn. But what a draw it was!


West Indies 301 (C. Hunte 44, G. Sobers 42, R. Kanhai 73, J. Solomon 56, W. Hall 25 not out, F. Trueman six for 100, D. Shackleton three for 93) and 229 (B. Butcher 133, F. Worrell 33, Trueman five for 52, Shackleton four for 72).

England 297 (E. Dexter 70, K. Barrington 80, J. Parks 35, F. Titmus 52 not out, C. Griffith five for 91) and 228 for nine (Barrington 60, D. Close 70, Hall four for 93, Griffith three for 59).

Match drawn.

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