You’d think that England would be inspired by this ground. St George is our patron saint, after all. Unfortunately however, the pitch made inspirational all but impossible. The words turgid, pudding and dull spring to mind instead.
I completely despair at surfaces like this. Everyone who cares deeply about test cricket should be extremely disappointed. I appreciate that a groundsman’s job isn’t an exact science, but would it really be that hard to leave a little grass on the pitch?
I suppose England tried their best on the dead surface but I still wasn’t particularly impressed. A score of 188-5 is probably worth 240-5 in normal conditions. Honours are even at the moment.
What’s more, England’s performance must be put into context. We’re not battling away against the likes of Younis Khan or Misbah-ul-Haq – the type of top class batsmen England might encounter on dead pitches in the UAE – we’re playing the West Indies. A side our chairman said we should beat easily.
I don’t want to be too harsh on the Windies as they’ve shown a lot of fight, and do have some promising players, but they’re the easiest opposition we’ll face this year by some distance. It’s New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and that trip to the UAE to play Pakistan to come.
Let’s get this into perspective people. This Windies side isn’t much better than a division one county team. Only two of their batsmen average over 40 in first class cricket (let alone test cricket), and we all know that the standard of domestic cricket in the Windies ain’t exactly brilliant.
Of the five wickets we managed to take yesterday, Devon Smith didn’t hit it, and Bravo and Chanderpaul played terrible shots. Only Braithwaite (who got a snorter from Jimmy) and Blackwood were out to good balls.
I thought our bowling was a mixed bag. Sky’s pundits kept giving England top marks for effort, but isn’t that the minimum you’d expect from any international team. You’d expect them to try their best, right? Have expectations really sunk that low?
Anderson and Stokes were the pick of the bowlers. The latter has really impressed me. He was charging in all day, and consistently topped 90mph in the final session – a clear benefit of playing five bowlers.
On the other end of the richter scale, Stuart Broad struggled to top 80mph in the final session. It’s a real worry now. He should be over his injuries. Medium pace isn’t going to cut it at test level I’m afraid.
I was also disappointed with Moeen and Jordan. The former was clearly rusty, so there’s a caveat to his performance, but the latter just doesn’t have ‘it’.
Take away Jordan’s brilliant fielding, and his potential with the bat, and all you have is a bog standard medium-fast seamer. Jordan can ‘crank it up’ (if this is an appropriate expression) to fast-medium in his early spells, but he fades away late in the day. I hate to say it, but bowlers like this are two a penny at international level. I just don’t get the hype I’m afraid.
Anyway, I expect I’m being a little grumpy today so I’ll leave it there. I just want England to be ruthless. We’re playing an inferior side so we need to exert our authority.
When it’s England’s turn to bat, big runs are needed. Without Jerome Taylor, the Windies bowling attack is there for the taking. If Cook and Trott continue to struggle against this lot, we’ve got no hope in the Ashes. I just hope that easy runs won’t create a false sense of security.