Yesterday was a bit of a strange day for me. It was like going back in time. For starters, Stuart Broad took a wicket with a ball that registered just over 90mph. He also picked up three further wickets.
It’s easy to forget that when Broad gets his tail up, he’s one hell of a bowler. We need to see more of him at this best. Apparently Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett are tearing up trees in training. He’ll need to be on his toes.
It was also strange to see Cook and Trott back together at the crease for an extended period of time. I almost felt nostalgic. Trott actually looked quite composed. Cook looked out of sync, and was dropped at short leg. Plus ça change.
I have to say, I’m not impressed with the work Cook’s done with Graham Gooch. His stance is far too open, his front foot is often in the air (and on the move) when the bowler releases the ball, and his head position still isn’t right. It’s a case study in how not to bat.
Cook may well go on to score a century at some point today. If you give someone enough chances (in this case thirty three) they’re bound to score runs eventually. However, I’m not sure a century would be the best result for Cook and England in the long-term. My fear is that it will create a false sense of security.
The bottom line is this Windies attack is extremely weak – perhaps the weakest of all the major test playing nations. What’s more, their best bowler from the first test is missing. Maybe I’m too much of a purist, and too much of a doubter, but I can’t see Cook scoring runs against better bowlers with his current technique.
When Strauss was temporarily dropped (or ‘rested’) a few years ago, he took time out to work on his technique away from the pressures of international cricket. He came back a better player, and made a potentially career saving century against New Zealand. I really think Cook would benefit from the same approach. Hell, let him play some county cricket if needs be.
The problem is that too many careers are on the line in this series. Instead of earmarking this tour as an opportunity to look at new talent, Moores and Whitaker adopted a win-at-all-costs mindset. You can understand why after the mixed results last summer, the disastrous World Cup, and Colin Graves’ comments about the Windies being ‘mediocre’.
Instead of looking at Lyth, Wood, and maybe even Adil Rashid (although I’m not sold on him to be honest), the management looked at the schedule and identified this series as the best chance to nail some elusive wins. They also saw it as an opportunity for Cook to score some easy runs – something he’s extremely good at – to bolster the status quo so many people are invested in.
If England lose to New Zealand and Australia in the coming months, as seems quite likely, at least the apologists can say “well, we beat the West Indies”. It hasn’t been all bad.
The problem for fans like myself is that I’m not invested in any of the protagonists whatsoever. The careers of Moores, Cook and Whitaker are meaningless to me. I just want England to win … and I’m not talking about a low-key series in the Caribbean. I’m talking about the Ashes.