Moments in Time: The day Jimmy Adams and Courtney Walsh stalled the great Wasim Akram

Jimmy Adams never made our Jamaican BestXI West Indies Championship team and that may be the most unfortunate omission of the lot, with others like Alfred Valentine, Nehemiah Perry, Roy Gilchrist, and Alan Rae also missing the cut.

However, there is no doubt that Jimmy is one of the finest competitors the West Indies has produced and his efforts slowed a degradation in the region’s cricketing fortunes in no uncertain terms.

On May 29, 2000, on the final day of a Test series against Pakistan in Antigua, visiting captain Moin Khan stood on the verge of history.

Moin was about to be the first Pakistan captain to win a series in the Caribbean. But Jimmy, the captain of the West Indies at the time, stood in his way.

Pakistan would eventually earn a series victory in the Caribbean, the hosts capitulating almost 20 years later, but on that day, Jimmy was determined not to suffer the ignominy of losing at home.

The three-Test series was tied at 0-0, making the final Test very much a final.

Pakistan had been sent into bat on the first day but had been bowled out early on the second morning for 269 on the back of Mohammad Yousuf’s unbeaten 103.

The West Indies hadn’t fared much better in their first innings, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s 89 and Jimmy’s 60 barely get them over the mark to be all out for 273. Jimmy had bat four hours for that 60, while Shiv’s defiance had lasted even longer, the Guyanese batsman holding out for five and a half hours.

I say holding out because Pakistani left-arm pacer, Wasim Akram, was in his element, taking 6-61 in that first innings to outdo Courtney Walsh’s 5-83 in the same stanza.

But Pakistan were in for more trouble in their second innings as the West Indies pairing of Curtley Ambrose (3-39) and Reon King (4-48), demicated the Pakistani lineup, restricting them to just 219. Inzamam-ul-Haq stood firm with a fighting 68 that included a pulled six through midwicket off Ambrose and Yousuf, who made 42.

Three days of the Test had elapsed and the West Indies had the two remaining to chase down 216 for victory. Seemed easy enough at the start, but on a wearing pitch and with masters of the art of bowling the reverse swing like Akram and Waqar Younis running in, who knows.

There was also the formidable spin threat of Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq as well as the dangerous, largely underrated Abdul Razzaq.

At the end of day four, the picture did not look any clearer, as Jimmy Adams on 15 would return on the final morning with the score on 144-4.

Openers Sherwin Campbell (6) and Adrian Griffith (23), had not given the middle order puch protection, but Wavell Hinds (63) and Shiv (31) had sought to restore some composure to the innings, but they too had fallen before the fourth day had ended, Akram the orchestrator of three of the four wickets.

Ramnaresh Sarwan was to enter the fray on the final morning and much was expected of him if the West Indies were to overhaul the 72 runs needed to win the match. A draw certainly wasn’t in question.

But Sarwan fell victim to the brilliant Akram, who snared his fourth wicket, getting the diminutive right-hander out leg before.

Ridley Jacobs then committed a sin early on the final morning, going run out for five. With Adams and the bowlers at the crease at 169-6, the West Indies were treading murky water.

Defeat was in the air, but so was Jimmy.

Franklyn Rose didn’t last long, waiting around for just 13 balls for his four runs, while Ambrose scored eight runs that included a six.

He was almost run out in the interim but it never mattered as Mushtaq would prove his undoing.

Things looked grim but the West Indies were getting ever closer.

Rose had gone at 177-7, and Sir Curtly had taken the Windies to 194-8.

King stayed around long enough for Jimmy to score a few runs and take the score to 197-9, but Akram struck again, bowling him all ends up as the pacer took an inelegant waft at a straight delivery.

Out came Courtney Walsh, who after his five-for in the first innings, and 1-39 from 20 miserly overs in the second, would not have expected to have more work to do, but he did.

The West Indies were still 19 runs adrift and nobody but nobody wanted to see Walsh, who had the unenviable record of not scoring on 36 occasions.

And Walsh could have, and likely should have been given out off the second ball he faced, as he was caught bat pad off the bowling of Mushtaq. Umpire Doug Cowie didn’t see it and there was no third umpire to plead Mushtaq’s case.

But Walsh would have to face more of Mushtaq because Jimmy was not letting him anywhere near Akram.

“When Walsh came in, I remember telling him that the only chance we had was for him not to face Wasim. He said fine, and that he would do the best he could against Saqlain or whoever else it was from the other end. I told him, "Look, either it will work or it won't work, but it's going to take time. I'm going to refuse runs because I'm going to try not to have you face Wasim," Jimmy recollected.

The crowd at the Antigua Recreation Ground gave Jimmy a hard time for refusing runs, booing and the like, but they never understood what he did and what he had the discipline to employ. Akram was a master and would not need too many deliveries to get rid of Walsh.

But calamity was never far away and Walsh and Jimmy ended up in the same crease during what should have been an easy run.

“I can't remember where the ball went. All I know is that Courtney was ball-watching. I just thought at some point he would actually look at me and run. I said to him, "Courtney, you've got longer legs than me, so you need to try and get up to the next end." And Courtney was telling me: "Well, I might have longer legs, but you are still quicker. So you give it your best shot."”

Fortunately, Mushtaq and Younis Khan conspired to miss the catch in the former’s case and throw poorly in the instance of the latter.

Adams, somewhere around 2pm on the final day, would dab a ball into the outfield with the scores tied and that would be the end of that.

Akram would end the game with 11 wickets, two short of 400, and Jimmy, in his second series as captain, was over the moon, scoring 60 and an unbeaten 48.

“For West Indies it was a good end to a very tight Test match. But I will never discuss that Test without paying tribute to Wasim. He is the best fast bowler I have ever played, not just in that Test, but in my career. I put more value on that 48 than probably most of my Test hundreds because of the situation, the pressure, the quality of the bowling,” Jimmy would say of the game years later.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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