Day Four at St George’s

windies crowd

A good day followed by a depressing one. A depressing one for England, and a depressing day for test cricket in general. Depressing, depressing, depressing.

They say you can only judge the quality of a pitch after both teams have batted. When Joe Root was flaying the bowling to all parts in the morning – and didn’t he play well – I think most of us hoped the surface would look different when England bowled. Or, at the very least, the Windies would show a little indiscipline and throw away their wickets in a flurry of poor strokes – which is basically what happened in the first innings.

Alas, this was wishful thinking. If anything the pitch looked ever slower and flatter. It’s a bowlers graveyard. It makes a result impossible. It’s terrible for test cricket. Depressing all round.

It’s customary in such circumstances – when hope seems lost and the temptation to kick the cat is almost irresistible – to find ‘the positives’. There weren’t too many when England were in the field, but at least we can reflect on some good batting in the morning session. Joe Root is rather useful, isn’t he.

I don’t want to get carried away – this would be rather hypocritical after playing down Alastair Cook’s sustained plundering of runs against ordinary bowlers in years gone by – but Root looks like a class act. He has all the shots. His technique is pretty sound (although he’d do well to get behind the ball more when he defends off the back foot) and he’s got that uber-competitive chip on his shoulder that all good Yorkies should have.

Obviously the real challenge will come later this year, when he faces up to the likes of Boult, Southee, Harris, Johnson, Steyn. Morkel and Riaz, but at this point I fancy his chances. I would definitely keep him at four or five though. His game looks better suited to the middle order in my opinion – mostly due to his tendency to stay offside of the ball, and play with his hands slightly away from his body when defending short balls. Nobody’s perfect I suppose.

It was also good to see Chris Jordan hit a few crisp shots, although Buttler disappointed. We could have done with a hour or so of Jos at his best. The game situation and the lack of bounce in the pitch would have suited him.

As for our bowlers, well, what can I say? The pitch made life extremely difficult for them, but inevitably questions will be asked. Brathwaite and Bravo played very well, so credit to them, but we did look rather toothless.

Broad’s pace was in the doldrums again – thus blowing the theory that his position on the crease determines how quickly he bowls – while Jordan and Stokes also toiled without reward. Anderson bowled a good opening spell, but didn’t threaten much thereafter. I doubt many bowlers would in these conditions.

Mooen eventually found a slightly better rhythm, but failed to take a wicket. Root also bowled a few overs and was tidy enough. Tidy isn’t quite good enough when you’re trying to win games though. If only our spinners had a bit of hocus pocus.

With the Windies already enjoying a small lead, the chances of either side forcing a result today look minimal. The likely result will be a stalemate. A depressing stalemate.

Before this series started, most people expected England trounce the West Indies. After two matches, the score will stand at 0-0, with everything to play for at Barbados. Despite England’s dominance in the first two games, the series will be on a knife-edge.

Depressing, isn’t it.

James Morgan




    • Don’t think Tredwell would have done much better on this pitch, somehow.

      Now if only we had a leg spinner in the squad…

      • It’s not enough to pick a leggie – they have to be a good leggie. Australia tried and discarded Terry Jenner, Kerry O’Keeffe, Tony Mann, Dutchy Holland and Jim Higgs before finding Warne. Of course the key word is “tried”. We won’t know how good Rashid is until they pick him.

  • “I doubt many bowlers would [threaten] in these conditions”.

    I’m not saying this pitch is ideal and I don’t want all Test pitches to be like this one – but for my money there is far too much blaming the pitch and not enough looking at the quality of the bowling attacks and tactics. These are two attacks for whom the word “mediocre” seems a perfect description – which is then compounded, especially in England’s case, by conservative and inflexible strategies.

    I’d like to see Pakistan bowl on this pitch. Last October their reserve attack (Riaz, Junaid, Irfan and Ajmal were all out for various reasons) bowled out Australia twice to win 2-0 on UAE pitches flatter than this one. South Africa would bowl well here too. As for NZ, they twice bowled West Indies out on their tour last year to win the series 2-1. Pakistan and South Africa simply have better bowlers. NZ possibly do as well but they also selected proper five man attacks (including their leggie Sodhi), fielded brilliantly and had McCullum as captain.

    Going back to pitches, if they are the problem what are some constructive solutions? Neutral groudsmen? Punitive action against boards or grounds that produce slow pitches? I fear that what the UK media want is for more grass to be left on so it helps Jimmy and Broady – but why should other countries feel obligated to help our bowling attack?

    “The Windies would show a little indiscipline and throw away their wickets in a flurry of poor strokes”.

    Once the new ball failed, this is really what England were banking on. ‘Bowling dry’ is so deeply ingrained in this England set-up that they can’t do anything else – but what use is it against a team who can only save a match? The commentators were getting very excited when Root bowled a load of maidens to Brathwaite – but so what? It was all West Indies needed. The seamers don’t attack the stumps and the spinners are there to give the seamers a rest first and take wickets second. We never try to buy a wicket. When we do try something a bit different it is after 60 overs (like Jordan’s spell late yesterday) when the batsmen are deeply entrenched and it is less likely to work.

  • Nice work James, agree with sentiments re Root, it’s impossible not to like the guy. But he has a huge summer ahead of him. In his career to date he has found life hard against top attacks and in particular the new ball. As you say his tendency to play inside the ball and also his technique of hanging back and not pushing forward leaves him susceptible to the hard new ball and bowling around the “fourth stump”.
    If the top order fails and he is exposed to the new ball he may find life tough against the likes of Boult/Southee and the Aussies. If he cracks it this summer he will no doubt end up as a great, if not questions will remain.
    Sadly this test and series has shown how selection policy is very much based on “whether your face fits”:
    – Lyth despite scoring heavily in CC missing out to Trott and Molly
    – Broad (Molly 2) and Jordan ahead of Plunk and Wood despite showing very little to justify.
    – Kent’s 2nd XI spinner picked ahead of Rash who bowled Yorks to the title. Then dropping Tred who bowled well for Moeen who is so ridiculously out of nick.
    – Continuing to mess Stokes around by dropping him down order after scoring runs at 6 for a guy out of nick.
    This bowling attack needs freshening up and some pace injecting into it. The time has to come where one spell per series from Molly 2 is no longer acceptable. Plunk, Wood and Rash for Molly 2, Jordan and. Moeen for me next test. Might not work but at least we’ll learn something!

      • Me too Ian. He seems like a petulant little boy to me at time. and that smiles beguiles. He is probably sledging the others while he;s smiling. I had a principal who perfected it and would threaten kids while smiling.
        I don’t understand English selections at all. Broad has been abysmal for ages but maybe Daddy says he must be picked,
        Stokes temperament is not enhancing his performance nor his likability. Trott and Cook as openers? Obvious they want to bore fans to death.
        Looking forward to NZ and Aussies approach to this English side. Maybe that is what it will take to wake up the administration and selectors. Graves and Harrison need to firmly place their imprint …perhaps on a few bums!!

        • Yes Narelle quite right the little bugger hides behind his butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth looks and is apparently a sledger of note although as is standard in most teams not a particularly witty or inventive one. Unlike a certain Mister Samuels.

          • I’m surprised at the comments re Joe. The lad has got true yorkshire grit about him and an inner desire to succeed (this will be crucial this summer if he is to make the step up). The inner steel may transgress into sledging but any criticism of that should be directed at the wider game, captains and umpires who have allowed sledging, and let’s face it pretty crude and unimaginable sledging, to become immersed in the game.
            Narelle- agree re openers and broad. Sadly they have been, and it appears, will continue to be mollycoddled.

        • And as to Stokes performance; well there really hasn’t been one has there?

          At this stage he should consider himself lucky to play at county level. I certainly don’t see that he warrants a test place but perhaps the cupboard really is that bare.

  • I’m rather enjoying it. I’m not sure what the problem is. It’s only English commentators who are whining about the pitch which is pretty ordinary considering the pitches served up for Swann in the not very distant past.

    Is it the contention that WI should have prepared pitches to suit Englands (fairly poor) bowlers?

    And as to the pitch itself, how easy is it to prepare a pitch in a hothouse where humidity is so high that you feel like you’re breathing water and it rains in biblical quantities a great deal of the time.

  • Dear Marlon Samuels

    Please please please do your salute again if you score a ton today. I love it when bubbles get popped.

    [Do you think he might read an English cricket blog?]

    Am I right? Slow, low pitches need mystery spin, or pace through the air coz there’s zilch off the deck. What does the ECB laptop say about that? Yea laptop speak nah.

  • Impotent bowling, lack of tactics and ruthlessness.

    Is there any doubt that e.g. South Africa would have bowled WI out about 3 times already?

  • Nice to see Cookie focussed on a red-inker rather than entertaining anyone or getting the game over with quickly.
    What a tool he is.

    • That’s Captain Tool to us proles.

      Still, they won. Don’t feel that elated though. I used to be.

  • I think it’s about time everybody recognised that this Test series is no more than a glorified, open net for Cook. The arrogance shown by the England team and the sense of ‘entitlement’ that goes with Cook is most revealing. Yet people actually pay to watch this and glory in victory. This is the most turgid set up I have ever seen, the most insular and the shabbiest lot of self-proclaimed ‘greats’ that walked upon the cricket field. The last 18 months of English cricket has seen many provide just critique of what has been happening and yet they all still support the team. The ECB are laughing all the way to the bank and pointedly behave as if the team is theirs’s – face it, it is, so why bother watching, supporting and having anything to do with this bunch of fraudsters???????

    • Well said Ron.
      Broad saying Cook is the greatest Eng batsman and now Cook coming out and saying Jimmy is the greatest England bowler of all time backs up your point.
      It’s embarrassing and disrespectful to the greats of previous eras. Broad’s comment isn’t worthy of response…as for Cook’s, Jimmy is a very fine bowler but greatest English bowler of all time?! Just more of the increasing nonsense spouted by Cook of late.
      Maybe I’m wrong and we should be blessed that we are watching such all time greats of the English game!

  • really good win, despite the opposition, nine out of 10 times we would never win form these kid of situations. cok started positively too before going to dog ball.


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