Sadly I feel this test match is ebbing away. So it’s time for a hackneyed boxing analogy.
England are on the ropes primarily because we’ve got a glass jaw. The Windies, on the other hand, have taken the punches and kept advancing forwards. The home team has shown more courage and discipline, they’ve clearly got a better defence, and they’ve chosen their moments to attack judiciously.
Yesterday England looked a bit like Naseem Hamed in his bout with Marco Antonio Barrera. The flamboyant Prince Naseem came into the ring full of confidence thinking he’d blow his opponent away. But when his big blows failed to land, and he realised the ever-professional Barrera was a tough nut to crack, he looked rattled and ultimately forlorn. “This shouldn’t be happening, should it?”. The courageous Barrera wore him down and won decisively.
Ok, so I’ve probably pushed the boxing thing a bit too far, but I think you get what I mean. The Windies are winning this game because they’ve proved more determined in the face of danger. Their batsmen have taken the physical blows like Brian Close. And they’ve hung in there, realising that occupation of the crease will inevitably lead to the accumulation of runs and the construction of a more than handy lead.
I have to say that I’m full of admiration for the way the likes of Brathwaite, Hope, and particularly Bravo dug in yesterday. They showed England exactly how to play on a tricky pitch. They accepted that the odd delivery was going to spit nastily, and that they might get hurt, but they also realised that batting was far from impossible if they kept their heads and battled on.
Basically they showed England exactly how it should be done. They played good old fashioned test cricket. And on yesterday’s evidence they thoroughly deserve to win this game and with it the series. Many (including myself) thought the Windies wouldn’t have the discipline to beat England. How wrong we were.
As for England what can we say. We bowled ok – certainly not great though – but overall the team looked sloppy. Catches were dropped – a surefire sign of a team on the ropes – and Root’s field placings and bowling changes seem arbitrary. It wasn’t a good moment for the skipper to regress.
It will take a huge effort for England to win this game from here. They’ll have to bat brilliantly, and with a lot more backbone than they’ve shown in a while, to set the Windies even a meagre target of 150ish.
Can we do it? Yes we can but it’s probably unlikely. One imagines England will come out swinging in the second innings, play their shots, and hope for the best. I reckon we’ve got a puncher’s chance at best from here. What about you?