Thursday, August 12, 2021

Alan Ward nearly takes a hat trick in his final test

The first two tests of the 1976 West Indies your of England more or less went to plan for the hosts in that they ended in draws.

Tony Greig's notorious remark about making the West Indies grovel came after a tour of Australia in which they had displayed a certain naivety and lost the series despite their talent.

Greig reasoned that if he could keep the series close then the West Indies might display similar frailties in the later tests.

But the third test put an end to that strategy as Andy Roberts and Michael Holding blew England away.

In line with Greig's supposedly canny strategy, the England attack had been led by Mike Hendrick and Mike Selvery - fine bowlers but nowhere near Roberts and Holding in pace.

So for the fourth test everything changed and England picked the fastest attack they could field: John Snow, Bob Willis and Alan Ward.

Snow had been England leading fast bowler in the late 1960s and early 1970s before his stroppiness became too much for the selectors. He had been recalled against Australia the previous summer with some success, but this was to be his last test.

Snow playing alongside Willis marked the passing on of the torch, as this test marked the beginning of Bob Willis's long reign as England's premier fast bowler.

Alan Ward was always a bit of an enigma. A fluent fast bowler, he had been expected to be a test star, but this was to be the last of only five caps.

He turned out to be prone to injury and was once sent off the field by his captain at Derbyshire for refusing to bowl.

The fullest account of his career I can find is by Martin Chandler. Writing in 2013, he was unable to trace Ward's current whereabouts.

Anyway, Greig's new strategy proved no more successful as the West Indies openers battered his new pace attack - Ward suffered in particular.

But later in the innings he nearly took a hat trick.

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