Watching test cricket in the US is not as impossible as it used to be. I have access to the test match feed, but my internet connection isn’t brilliant and there are also other things to do. It’s a peaceful holiday, a really cool and calm time with a sick mother in law and a wife fussing over her and also getting her home air back in her lungs. Meanwhile it’s sunset and selfies more for me (and I don’t mean the journalist).
I’ll let Vian take over many of the more technical duties relating to this test. I’ve been struck by a couple of things while I’ve been watching. First, listening to one of our Sky Sports finest discussing a pitch pre-game is about as accurate a predictor of the game’s progress as legendary NFL draft seer Mel Kiper Jr has been when confronted with the first round of this year’s horse-trade. We had predictions of a great pitch to bat on and with it breaking up on day 5. Unless there’s a monsoon on the next two days, the public will be on the beach / drinking rum, or if they know what they are doing, going to admire the view at Bathsheba.
There is, of course, the Alastair Cook century to deal with. I have never looked forward to a century watch less. I am probably glad to be by the Delaware Bay than have to read much of the bilge that no doubt accompanied this century. But, let’s get one thing into context. Without it, in this test, we’d be in big, big trouble. It would be churlish in the extreme to be denigrating of this century given the context of the match. These are two really ordinary teams, and the difference is in a couple of extraordinary performances, and not much else. 39 for 5 is really killing this game off, isn’t it? We have just over 100 runs to play with. 150 might be enough, but it might not. Our tail has not exactly been our strong point when it comes to the team’s performance. Bloody hell, we need it now.
Make no mistake, this has not been a rampage, and this does not augur well for the upcoming battles. Much has been made about the Jonathan Trott experiment failing, and I know, I must get round to reading George Dobell’s take on matters. Others have been rather too keen to jump on the bandwagon, and while I note all that has been said on here about his form towards the last couple of years of his first go around, we were hoping for the best. I don’t know if we are seeing a trend here as well – one the press won’t ever go to town on – but that since Strauss, this is another opener who has tried and failed with Cook. They just don’t last long with him. According to some, mentioning this in the same breath is “warped thinking” and that we thought Trott had been put there to fail to make Cook look good. Hey, if there’s an insult from a press-man going, I’ll catch it and run with it. It’s nowhere near as warped a thinking as Cook getting 35 or so test innings to register a century and then to be greeted with a “he’s back” and “you are the ones with problems” nonsense I have seen over the past couple of days. Wind your bloody necks in.
But in between the constant buffering on my feed, I’ve seen two poor batting sides. I’ve seen England lurching between spells where they look like absolute top dollar to others where they’ve been utter, utter dross. The proof of this particular pudding is how we do in the late summer this year with Australia about. That’s what they want us to focus on. I don’t see the up and at them needed to compete. Jimmy Anderson has it in bursts, and again, from what I saw today he was excellent (seriously, spare the bloody “genius” cockwaffle I saw on Twitter from some who should really know better – act like you’ve been there before) but there’s enormous question marks over the rest of the bowling. It might be we get out of here winning 2-0, but portraying it as a brilliant success isn’t going to cut it. There are flaws, massive flaws, and they can’t be covered up that easily.
I have the house to myself tomorrow to watch the denouement. The rest are going out to collect sea glass. I hope our message in a bottle is one of success, and of lower order scoring prowess. Instead, we could be watching a cliff-hanger, with the fragile veneer of English cricket potentially shattered on the mediocre rocks of West Indian cricket. And with that, it’s off to watch the NBA play-offs.
From Town Bank, NJ, it’s Dmitri Old, wishing you well.