Keep cool, man.
I quite enjoy watching cricket from the Caribbean. It’s not quite what it used to be, when the stadiums were close to city centres, and Gravy was dancing in the stands, but it still makes a nice change. There are usually quite a few cool cats in the stands too – although the coolest two men in Antigua yesterday were probably Joe Root and Chris Woakes, who kept their heads brilliantly when England’s chase spun out of control at 124-6.
Even though yesterday’s ODI wasn’t the best spectacle in the world – once again the pitch was a little two paced and difficult for scoring – I don’t mind the odd low(er) scoring game. What’s more, it was refreshing to see England dig themselves a bit of a hole against spin but then dig themselves out of it for a change. In years gone by we might have panicked and thrown wickets away.
The result meant that we’ve now won the series – 2 up with 1 to play. It doesn’t rank as a particularly impressive achievement considering how poor the Windies are these days, and I still think our best players should have their feet up somewhere rather than playing another somewhat irrelevant ODI series, but it’s obviously better to win games than lose them. Confidence should be building nicely.
Although it would be tempting to wax lyrical about Joe Root after his match winning innings of 90 – and yes this was another feather in his cap – I’d actually like to focus on Chris Woakes. Everyone knows what a good batsman Root is, but Woakes rarely gets much credit for his work with the willow – mainly because he rarely gets much opportunity to build an innings.
Basically I thought Woakes played beautifully in the circumstances. He’s an intelligent cricketer, presents a straight bat most of the time, and usually chooses the right moments to attack. He quickly assessed conditions yesterday, realised it was his job to support Root, and executed his plan impressively. None of this is rocket science of course, but modern cricketers don’t always have the wherewithal to see things through. Well played, Chris.
I won’t go into too much detail about the Windies innings, as we tend to steer clear of regular reports, but I was actually quite impressed by our bowlers for a change. The frontline seamers varied their pace nicely and “used the facilities” so to speak, and the spinners backed them up adequately.
I have no idea what the Windies’ batsmen were thinking though. Several of them threw their wickets away with ugly slogs. One could argue this was because England’s attack kept them under pressure, but I still thought there was a complete absence of common sense in their approach. Had they knuckled down and aimed to post 250 (rather than something more ambitious) they might well have won the game given how England’s top and middle order performed.
Anyway, it’s on to Barbados we go. Let’s hope for more sun, a slightly better pitch, and another victory. Then our players can belatedly get some bloody rest – depending on when their counties want them to report for pre-season training that is.