Edwards shows his class

Kevin Pietersen is trapped leg before by Fidel Edwards.-AP

In a drab Test match, Edwards occasionally lit up the scene. Ramnaresh Sarwan batted delightfully for a couple of days, Denesh Ramdin was all diligence but perhaps the highlight of the West Indies innings was Edwards and he did not even get to the crease. By Vic Marks.

It comes to something when the most threatening bowler in the match ends with a return of three for 192. Statistically Fidel Edwards was not the most successful of those poor souls compelled to flog their bodies to distraction on this infernal patch of mud but he was easily the most diverting of the bowlers and the one whom batsmen would least like to face.

In a drab Test match, Edwards occasionally lit up the scene. Ramnaresh Sarwan batted delightfully for a couple of days, Denesh Ramdin was all diligence but perhaps the highlight of the West Indies innings was Edwards and he did not even get to the crease.

When Chris Gayle declared at the fall of Ramdin’s wicket, we spotted Edwards, pads and helmet on, brandishing his bat, before furiously withdrawing to the dressing room. He wanted to have a go on this sublime batting surface. Everyone else in his team had. Why should he be deprived? Like any self-respecting West Indian tail-ender he was desperate “to give it some licks”.

Instead he had to bowl again on this sadistic slab of real estate. And it was only when Edwards had a new ball in his hand that we had a contest worth watching. Why? Because he can bowl fast.

Initially in England’s first and second innings Edwards was dutiful, obedient even. Clearly the West Indian management have encouraged him to pitch the ball up and to pursue swing in the approved manner. Fortunately — for the spectacle — Edwards soon adopted whatever the Bajan equivalent is of “Bugger this for a game of soldiers” and started to bang the ball into the pitch as fast as possible.

He never received his just rewards. In the first innings Andrew Strauss was dropped, a sitter to slip from a full-length delivery, then Jerome Taylor failed to hold on to two chances from mis-hooks against his bouncer. Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara were the lucky men. Edwards tried to remain philosophical. “It’s kind of tiring coming here,” he said. “I was hoping for some grass and a good fast wicket.”

There was more chance of a snowstorm. The new ball in England’s second innings whistled through but only when propelled by Edwards. He beat Alastair Cook’s forward prod; then to add some spice he tested Cook with some bouncers. Again there was no reward for his toil. The runs flowed and Edwards’ modest Test record (110 wickets at 38 apiece) dwindled a little further. No justice.

His has been an unusual career, in which he has bobbed up and down like a marooned bungee-jumper. Brian Lara, impressed in the nets, catapulted him into the Test team in 2003, after he had played one game for Barbados. Pace beguiles. In that first Test Edwards took five wickets in Sri Lanka’s first innings.

Since then he has never been dull. Sometimes he has been profligate; sometimes that slingy action, a sort of hybrid of Jeff Thomson and Lasith Malinga in full flow, has caused his body to rebel. He became the antipathy of his Barbados neighbour, Corey Collymore, a line-and-length seamer, or his half-brother, Pedro Collins, a left-arm swinger.

Pace has always been his ally, often his solitary ally. He has a similar physique to Malcolm Marshall, from whose end he has bounded in during this Test match, but little of his guile.

Edwards has grown stronger as this series has progressed while Taylor, the tormentor of England at Sabina Park during the critical hour of the series, is fading.

The Scores

Fourth Test, Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados, February 26 to March 2. Match drawn.

England 1st innings: A. J. Strauss b Powell 142; A. N. Cook c Hinds b Taylor 94; O. A. Shah c Smith b Benn 7; K. P. Pietersen lbw b Edwards 41; P. D. Collingwood c Nash b Edwards 96; R. S. Bopara c Taylor b Edwards 104; T. R. Ambrose (not out) 76; S. C. J. Broad (not out) 13; Extras (b 5, lb 3, w 11, nb 8) 27; Total (for six wkts. decl.) 600.

Fall of wickets: 1-229, 2-241, 3-259, 4-318, 5-467, 6-580.

West Indies bowling: Taylor 29.2-7-107-1; Edwards 30-0-151-3; Powell 24-3-107-1; Benn 30-7-106-1; Gayle 15-4-28-0; Hinds 14-2-62-0; Nash 9-1-20-0; Sarwan 2-0-11-0.

West Indies 1st innings: D. S. Smith lbw b Swann 55; C. H. Gayle lbw b Anderson 6; R. R. Sarwan b Sidebottom 291; R. O. Hinds lbw b Swann 15; S. Chanderpaul lbw b Anderson 70; B. P. Nash lbw b Swann 33; D. Ramdin b Swann 166; J. E. Taylor b Swann 53; S. J. Benn c Ambrose b Anderson 14; D. B. L. Powell (not out) 13; Extras (b 15, lb 11, w 1, nb 6) 33; Total (for nine wkts. decl.) 749.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-121, 3-159, 4-281, 5-334, 6-595, 7-672, 8-701, 9-749.

England bowling: Anderson 37-9-125-3; Sidebottom 35-4-146-1; Broad 32-4-113-0; Swann 50.4-8-165-5; Pietersen 9-1-38-0; Bopara 13-0-66-0; Collingwood 16-1-51-0; Shah 2-0-19-0.

England 2nd innings: A. J. Strauss b Gayle 38; A. N. Cook (not out) 139; O. A. Shah lbw b Benn 21; K. P. Pietersen (not out) 72; Extras (b 6, nb 3) 9; Total (for two wkts. decl.) 279.

Fall of wickets: 1-88, 2-129.

West Indies bowling: Edwards 10-1-41-0; Powell 12-0-35-0; Benn 21-1-64-1; Taylor 4-0-15-0; Gayle 17-5-46-1; Hinds 14-1-56-0; Sarwan 3-0-16-0.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009