Graham Gooch played one of the best ever test innings by an English batsman to take them to their first home test victory over West Indies in 22 years. Entire ’70s and ’80s were dominated by West Indies, thanks to some of the legends of the game like Sir Viv Richards, Michael Holding, and Malcolm Marshall. But finally, England found the solution in a brilliant inning from Gooch.
It was the first test of the 1991 series, played at Headingley in Leeds. England had three debutants in their final eleven, Mark Ramprakash, Graeme Hick, and Steve Watkins. England first innings was a familiar tale of batting failure as they just posted 198. Robin Smith scored 54 and Gooch 34 as Patrick Patterson, Marshall and Curtly Ambrose shared eight wickets among them. Despite a 73 from Richards, England took a 25-run lead which was crucial. Phil DeFreitas took 4/34. The debutant Ramprakash ran out Carl Hooper with a wonderful fielding effort.
England started their second innings poorly as Ambrose ran through the top order to make them 38 for 3. Following that spell, Gooch and Ramprakash built a partnership of 78 runs. Ramprakash scored 27 before becoming the 4th victim of Ambrose. Robin Smith was gone off the first ball to give Ambrose his five-far. The other significant partnership was between Gooch and Derek Pringle, who also scored 27. He hung around and added 98 runs for the seventh wicket with Gooch.
Gooch was batting in a completely different zone. He was never under pressure, never got troubled much and kept accumulating runs without much fuss. Finally, he remained unbeaten for 154 as England ended with 252. Also during this innings, around the end of day three, he famously refused to take the offer of lights from the umpires which showed his intent and unsettled the Windies.
A target of 278 in such a poor conditioned pitch was always out of reach for West Indies as they folded for 162. DeFreitas took four wickets and the debutant Watkins took three. England led the series 1-0 which finally finished with a 2-2 score.