Day Five in Antigua

tearing hair

Before this tour began, most people thought we’d beat the West Indies comprehensively. Colin Graves said he expected as much, and questions would be asked if we failed to do so.

Well, the first test has been played, and the bottom line is that England did not win. That is the only statistic that matters. We might have dominated proceedings, but a miss is as good as a mile.

In fairness to England, the pitch made it bloody difficult. I’ve seen more life in an Egyptian mummy. But ask yourself this: would the dead surface have stopped Australia from winning? Or South Africa? Or any other top test team?

Alastair Cook blamed the ball. I blame the fact our attack has no genuine pace or mystery spin – the two things that traditionally win test matches. Even a quality orthodox spinner would have been enough. Had Graeme Swann been playing, I expect we would have won before tea.

Consequently, there’s no disguising the fact that this is a very disappointing result. We tried our best but we weren’t up to it.

James Tredwell in particular was a disappointment. You need your frontline spinner to bowl the opposition out on the fifth day on a dry pitch. Tredwell took one wicket in 40 overs and was possibly out-bowled by Joe Root. He bowled a good line, but got neither the turn nor bounce to threaten the Windies middle and lower order. I wonder if he’d be more successful if he bowled a little quicker?

Our seamers also wilted to a certain degree. Stuart Broad’s pace went down to approximately 79-83 mph in the final session, and Chris Jordan also struggled to register speeds in the mid-80s. My suspicion is that Jordan lacks stamina.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Jordan now, and I don’t think he’ll be anything other than an occasional contributor at test level. He’s a bit like Chris Lewis light. He shows flashes, but doesn’t have quite the same ceiling. My fear is that Jordan is neither quick enough, accurate enough, nor does enough with the ball.

The only real positives for England were Ben Stokes, who generated good pace but unfortunately failed to take a wicket, and Jimmy Anderson who broke Ian Botham’s record. Having said that, Jimmy wasn’t quite at his best in this game.

Credit must go to the Windies too. They battled very hard. Holder thoroughly deserved his ton. He looks like a determined cricketer with a strong character – although I’m not convinced his bowling is international class.

Ramdin also played a captain’s knock. He’s frustrated England a few times over the years now.

Ultimately though, England simply didn’t have the firepower to take five wickets in two sessions against the lower order of a test team near the bottom of the rankings. Strip everything else away and just think about that for a second. It’s not very good, is it.

James Morgan



  • Unacceptable to not win from the position of 5 down at lunch. I do not care about what the pitch was like in First Class or Test Cricket the batting team should not survive being 5 down at lunch. Tredwell not up to it, fair enough he did well in 1st innings but your spinner has to be able to bowl a team out last day. Equally must give credit to Jason Holder nicely supported by Ramdin and Roach.

    I see the usual clowns are trying to say that a draw was a good result considering we haven’t played a test for 8 months.

  • Cook on Cricinfo “I honestly don’t think there was much we could have done different,” Cook said afterwards. “We tried everything. We tried different tactics. We tried getting it to reverse. We bowled pretty good areas all day…..we left everything on the pitch…”

    That does some it up really. As you say “not very good”.

    Probably a fair reflection on where the current England team is at the moment.

    The question is, can / should they be better? I like to believe so:
    – Better captain (why not try Root)
    – Better opening bats (Compton /Root, try Lyth now!! / Ballance????)
    – I believe the middle order can be improved despite a good show, but I argue they did not score enough, fast enough (KP??)
    – More attacking spinner (whatever did happen to Monty, maybe Rashid??)
    – Better variation in the pace attack (Ideas please…!)
    And we are not getting around the coaching / management issue.

    • 1) Stuart Broad for captain. He has the aggressive mentality and penchant for unorthodox tactics that Cook doesn’t.
      2) I don’t know why Trott is even in the England set-up anymore. We’ve already got a new, settled no. 3 and Trott has never played as an opener, whereas Lyth is a specialist opener. Lyth in, Trott out; send Cook back to Essex to rebuild his technique; bring back Carberry or Compton for opening partner.
      3) Middle order is probably our strongest suit. KP would probably score quicker, but would he score any bigger than the current lot? (KP is a shoe-on for our limited-overs sides, though.)
      4) Moeen has shown he can attack, and I think we should be playing 2 spinners on Caribbean pitches as a default. Can’t judge Tredwell on one match. Rashid could work. Only problem with Monty is that he can’t bat. Then again, we probably shouldn’t be picking bowlers based on their batting…
      5) Plunkett has genuine pace, and he’s in the squad. So why’s he not being played? We also need a left-armer (Footitt, Willey, Gurney, Mills…). Maybe someone can plead with Sidebottom to come out of retirement?

  • A fair summary, James. I share your doubts about Jordan as a Test bowler. He has to do more with the ball at his pace. Broad tired alarmingly. Stokes bowled better than his figures but seems to be pushing everything into the batsman.

    Lots of credit to Holder, Ramdin and Roach for their character and technique under pressure. Smith, Samuels and Blackwood all gave their wickets away to a greater or lesser extent so the lower order showed them a thing or two!

    England’s tactics weren’t awful but mere competence shouldn’t be mistaken for ‘good’ or exhausting all the options. The initial team selection was conservative. The bowling plans stuck with orthodox Test cricket and when that wasn’t working there wasn’t much ‘thinking outside the box’. England had a 100 runs in the bank at the end – only a defensive mindset thinks that is a good thing. Some of that capital should have been spent looking for a win. That could involve an earlier declaration, more attacking fields or trying to buy a wicket with some filth and the field up. England still think too much about not losing first.

    I still think, as I wrote on the Day 4 thread, that the declaration was 40 runs too late. 390 to win a Test has been managed less than half a dozen times in 2157 Tests. If the target had been more tempting the West Indies may have played more shots and been more likely to get out. That’s how Australia beat a stronger Indian batting line-up on a dead pitch in Adelaide earlier this year. We need to look more at what the best are doing and less at our own history (a better declaration than Strauss in 2009 doesn’t deserve much of a pat on the back given how awful they were and how quickly the game is changing).

    It appears Moeen Ali is going to come back and sort it all out. Good luck with that one Moeen……

  • Batting seems fine, middle order at least, decent cover – KP, Taylor.

    Opening pair still a disaster, which it has been since Compton was dropped because Flower and some influencial players (yes, I am looking at you Jimmy and Broad, and the not-so dearly departed Swann and Prior) decided they didn’t like him… 18 Tests wasted since and its a revolving door. Oh, and the “cert”, Cook, is shot.

    Too many average and over rated bowlers too, which is why they WI could hold on. Jordan? Er, no. Very ordinary. Tredwell? Great press reviews for his first innings efforts without anyone holding their powder to see if he could win the game on Day 5. He couldn’t. Rashid should have played. Now Moeen’s return will prevent that. Broad? Well his face fits so it doesn’t matter how ordinary he looks, never has.

    But at least England didn’t lose. So Cook and Moores will take the positives and conclude all is ok.

  • “England simply didn’t have the firepower to take five wickets in two sessions against the lower order of a test team near the bottom of the rankings”

    Yea Colin initiate sacking mode nah.

    Mooresy, Whitakery, the other selectories whoever they are, and Cooky from both his roles: give them an ECB P45 ASAP. Not because we drew a match, but because we have been plop for too long. We are blowing goats out there.

    And please go back in time and sack Saker(y) so he can’t slink off as if his head can still be held high.

    I fancy this team, but I bet I’m on my own:

    Lyth going nu-school/Compton going old school

    Look! Cook’s gone – wahey! This director of cricket gig is simple, ain’t it?

    And now I’d let them fight it out for the captaincy. Stokes looks like he’s got the biggest muscles so maybe that selection process won’t work out satisfactorily.

    Have a happy weekend, friends.

  • Brilliant – I had to out laugh out loud at this:

    “a team playing black-and-white, silent movie ODI cricket where others were performing in HD surround sound”

  • Well, they did leave themselves a hell of a lot of time to bowl them out. Five down at lunch should have been game, set and match, the timing of the declaration really wasn’t the issue.

    Holder was the issue, he showed unheard of stickability for a WI batsman, outside Shiv. And the pitch was a rotter when all was said and done.

    Broad is a worry. Hopefully, his fitness will build up now.

  • I think we ought to give a bit more credit to the West Indies.
    Pretty well everyone was expecting them to fold in the second innings, and they showed a lot of determination to hold out, doing so quite comfortably in the end.

    Holder in particular was a revelation. Granted the pitch was as benign as it’s possible for a fifth day track to be, but to score your maiden first class century in those circumstances is pretty special.

    Whether more attacking fields, an earlier declaration to tempt the West Indies into a real attempt at a chase, or the inclusion of Rashid might have made a difference is imponderable.
    In any event, England looked short at least one top class bowler just as West Indies had in the first innings.

  • Nothing much to add, most has been said. As boycott keeps saying England are not as good as they think they are. Some seem to think this is akin to treason, I think it’s just the truth.

    We are cautious and conservative and don’t pick people on merit. We have an obsession on putting square pegs in round holes and round pegs in triangular holes.

    Our inability to finish teams off has become almost standard. We actualy had the Aussies in trouble in the Ashes but always let them escape. The first test match they were 100/5 before getting to 300. As James says we don’t have express pace or mystery spin. So why not try the leg spinner? Tredwell is ok if the batsman is trying to attack him and can take wickets like in the first innings (which is why he should have played in the world cup) but against sides playing for the draw he is not as potent.

    The good news is we will probably still win the series because this is a really poor WI side. But the idea that will be some sort of achievement, and the captain is a tactical genius will be a fantasy. The depressing thing is I really do believe that we could do a whole lot better.

  • Well Lolly, look at how many times the Aussies won from a low score for 5 wickets down in the last Ashes series. I warned folks not to take the WIndies lightly. They have a lot of talent and pace. They just need Cook to lead them to success.

  • My feeling before this series is that England would probably beat Windies 1-0 but that it wouldn’t answer too many questions that people have about the (England) team in terms of batting strength, bowling potency or indeed leadership.

    I agree most about the bowling, a probably not very fit Broad and an unreliable 3rd/4th seamer and probably a lack of quality spin. Sure Ali probably needs to come back into the side but where does he play in the batting order. I’m unconvinced he’s test class as a batsman and that despite his promising series with the ball v India, he may not necessarily have enough as a bowler to compete versus more streetwise test match teams (yes India came to England with a whole host of players who’d either never toured here or weren’t test match class) than them come this summer.

    That said, with a couple of tweaks it isn’t beyond the Windies to shock us in a test match and a-non victory would really put the cat amongst the pigeons, with Colin Graves being the cat and you can take your pick of who will be playing the role of pigeons!

  • We failed. Cook was abysmal. Broad was on another planet. We’re toast. New Zealanders and Aussies will pummel us this summer. Where’s that damn big sofa behind which I will have to hide. We’re doomed! We’re all doomed.

  • The number one problem in Antigua was that the whole team was clearly knackered. England have been playing far too much international cricket per year for far too long and it’s got to stop.

    • The number two problem was negative, timid team selection. Going for the safe and tried-and-tested (Trott, Tredwell etc.) over the new and promising (Lyth, Rashid etc.)

    • Knackered? They haven’t played a Test since last August. They weren’t in the WC long enough to exhaust themselves. The real problem is a lack of genuine class in the side and the county scene.


copywriter copywriting