England vs West Indies: 2nd Test, Day One

The West Indies come roaring back.  Test cricket is alive and well!  All the doom-sayers can get back to their caves and all is well in the world…

It’s not hard to see today’s play used as a counter whenever someone mentions the state of this series and the disparity between the sides evident in the first Test, and there’s no question but that the West Indies had a much better time today, and perhaps most importantly of all, played with a sense of pride entirely absent at Edgbaston.

As far as the match position goes, bowling England out for 258 and finishing 19-1 at the close represents a decent return on their efforts for the visitors, and tomorrow they’ll have the chance to push on, get a good total going past England, and put the hosts under serious pressure…

That’s not going to happen is it?

Seeing the West Indies play like this and praising them for it has the hint of condescension about it, for England were pretty woeful against spirited, but hardly lethal bowling.  It is true however, that but for dropped catches, England could and probably should have been dismissed for 100 fewer than what is anyway a fairly unimpressive total.  Those who did score runs – Root and Stokes primarily – were dropped at least once, and early in their innings, while others played some fairly average shots as the batting order displayed all the faults that have been glaringly obvious for so long.

None of the top eight were properly got out, the nearest being Cook who did at least receive a half reasonable delivery.  The others played variations on poor shot selection or execution, and once again the top order flopped to the point they were four down a long way short of having 100 on the board.  As tiresome as it is to write the same thing about the same problems time and again, it remains the case that with this England team, unless Cook and/or Root go on to big big scores, the undoubtedly powerful middle and lower order is going to be coming in to try and rescue the situation yet again.  And they simply aren’t going to do it every time.  With the Ashes tour looming, these problems are coming home to roost, and an air of panic around the media seems to be taking hold.  Stoneman was on the receiving end of this too, a player batting for only the second time in a Test match.  Whatever his likelihood of making it as an international cricketer, to be questioning him at this stage is palpably absurd, except as an illustration of the mess England have got themselves into.

Tom Westley received plenty of plaudits in his first couple of matches, for although he didn’t go on to make a big score, he was busy and played his shots.  How quickly the opinion of the pundits turns.  Another straight ball, another angled bat, another lbw and suddenly the knives were out for him.  Dawid Malan too, inside edging a fairly innocuous delivery from Jason Holder back on to his stumps, and the question marks over 60% of the top order were now being vocally discussed.

It’s too late.  The casual discarding of established players is what got them to this point, not because they can’t bring them back, but because they won’t.  Does anyone really think a 35 year old Ian Bell with all those Test runs under his belt would be a worse option than these two?  But no, they’ve dispensed with his services, and the swallowing of pride involved in recalling him (yes, he’s not had a great season – the question above is the pertinent one) is unlikely in the extreme.

So once again the core strength of the England batting order as a unit had to drag it back.  Root scored another fifty and got out again, and of course the muttering about conversion rates popped up again.  It’s clear enough that it’s winding up Root more than anyone, but at least he is scoring runs, which is more than can be said for most.

Stokes has batted a great deal better in his career than he did here, for he had a fair bit of luck on his way to his sixth Test century (passing Andrew Flintoff’s five, interestingly enough) but it bears repeating that Stokes’ style of batting carries significant risk.  Sometimes he will get away with it, sometimes he won’t, and edging over a vacant slip area is a freedom he earns by forcing fielding captains to re-inforce elsewhere.  A magnificent Stokes knock it wasn’t, but his innings was still full of extraordinary shots, and the manner in which he manipulated the bowling by stepping across to off and pinging the ball through midwicket was reminiscent of another highly destructive England middle order batsman of recent vintage.

For the West Indies, Kemar Roach’s 4-71 must have been one of the hardest working non-five wicket hauls in some time.  Every catch that went begging appeared to be off his bowling, but he was undeniably the pick of the attack, though the return of Shannon Gabriel added some potency missing last week.  Quite why Bishoo was brought back and then hardly bowled (while Roston Chase got twice as many overs) was harder to comprehend.  Still, he had more chance to contribute just before the close when coming in as nightwatchman.

The West Indies do have a chance here, but well as they played on day one, they’re going to have to bat out of their skins to get into a winning position.  It’s still hard to see beyond an England win, and after a day as sloppy as this one, that’s quite an indictment.  Maybe tomorrow will surprise.

Oh and one last thing: I don’t care if the Marketing Department have issued an edict that the official name is the Windies.  That’s a load of old bollocks.  West Indies they were, are and will ever be.  Windies is a nickname, got that?




26 thoughts on “England vs West Indies: 2nd Test, Day One

  1. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    I did not see much of the play but it seemed that Broad and Anderson bowled a touch too short and wide. So we could enjoy the extravagant movement and the batsmen could watch it go past the stumps. I think posting 5 slips for fast medium bowlers of less than the very highest class makes them bowl that little bit too short and wide, because they are fearful of going for runs on the leg side. If anyone tells me that this pair is truly world-class, this would be my objection based on watching Lillee, Roberts, Holding, Marshall, Hadlee, Waqar, Imran, Ambrose etc.

    So many English batsmen out aiming expansive drives on day 1 at Headingley…. I bet Boycott was insufferable today. He never hesitates to repeat himself over and over again.

    England should have been out for about 200. Root maintained his TIMA, Moeen and YJB disappointed, Cook failed, Stokes rode his luck. If the weather holds and the sun shines, a par score for day 2 at Headingley when the first innings was 250 is around 300. Unless the WIndies get to 300, the game is over.

    But I reckon they should declare at 150 and get England in again, on the dare to lose principle


  2. Tony Bennett Aug 25, 2017 / 7:56 pm

    It seems to me that pressure derived from worrying about their places is getting to Westley and Malan, perhaps Stoneman too, as it did to Jennings, because they sense that we are in a period where the Engand selectors are a little more fickle than in, say, the last 10 years – while not approaching the levels of farce of the late 80s and early 90s.

    Boycott and others have been moaning about poor technique but these are players with decent records in domestic first-class cricket. Not fantastic records mind you. One might want to question the selection of batsmen whose first-class career averages are knocking around at about 37 or 38. It’s almost as though the selectors think that by a system of pot luck they will unearth another Trescothick or indeed Vaughan, both of whose records were nothing much when picked. The difference then was that Fletcher was basically doing the picking and he knew his game. The current mob are in a lower class entirely.

    There are some incredibly talented batsmen around in the English game, with magnificent hand-eye coordination, skill and inventiveness, which naturally transfers to the slap and tickle stuff. Hales, Butler, Lyth, all strike me as being worth selecting at Test level because of their obvious pure talent. Will it happen?

    Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Aug 25, 2017 / 8:07 pm

        My biggest problem with the selection process is the wilful blindness towards those who were dropped in the past.


        • jennyah46 Aug 25, 2017 / 8:46 pm

          I’d like to see Hales at 5. On current form he deserves another chance.


          • quebecer Aug 26, 2017 / 12:43 am

            Yep, I nailed my colours to that mast a while back, and I still think of all the possible solutions to the batting line up issues, it’s the most straightforward answer with the most to recommend it. There are arguments for Ballance at #5, but unfortunately they are all countered by the words “Mitchell” and “Starc”. For the #2 and #3 spots? I don’t think it’s nearly so clear (and Hales isn’t that clear at #5, really).


    • thelegglance Aug 25, 2017 / 8:06 pm

      I find it a bit hard to believe there’s less talent in England’s batting stocks, but perhaps there’s less application? It’s easy to blame T20 of course, but what do you think?


  3. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    And if Boycott were to be reminded how he was caught at mid-wicket in 1972 sweeping Gleeson at Old Trafford, that would make my day. It was the first innings of the match and he was on 8.


    • Tony Bennett Aug 25, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      I actually remember seeing that on tv. He got some stick for his use of the sweep shot (I recall it was a general criticism rather than relating to that one dismissal).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2017 / 10:48 pm

    But imagine how Boycott the commentator would have reacted to that


  5. man in a barrel Aug 25, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    For Him, anyone who plays across the line before they reach 20 is not good enough


  6. Sean B Aug 25, 2017 / 11:36 pm

    I thought that editorial policy was to slag off Cook. Our detractors will be most disappointed….


    • thelegglance Aug 25, 2017 / 11:40 pm

      No no. Fundamental misunderstanding. The last thing they want is to have reasoned argument brought to their attention. They’ll ignore that and focus on a single line that fits a preconception.

      This is why I neither pay attention nor care what they say. This is not the opportunity for a calculated rational debate. They’re not interested.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B Aug 25, 2017 / 11:46 pm

        It does remind me of a certain scene in ‘the life of Brian’.

        No one will get stoned even if they do mention Jehovah..

        I have invited many an individual to have their say on the blog. I’m 0 out of 18 so far 🙈


  7. quebecer Aug 26, 2017 / 12:50 am

    Much as I want any player brought in to the side to succeed, I just don’t think Westley will. It’s not just his shot today (which as been pointed out, was the same as man dismissals before), but without eradicating that type of dismissal, there’s no chance for him to work on anything else he needs to get right.

    That ball was hitting well up off stump and was bang on it (pitching outside), and Westley’s bat came down from 2nd slip towards mid on. No. Just no. For all the talk of players like Pietersen and Trott dominating through their leg side play, nether would have done that. They’d have defended it straight. It wasn’t full enough to work in that way from so far across, and the airy shot Westley produces for it simply wasn’t in Trott or KP’s vocabulary. No, they’d defend that one straight and wait for the slightly fuller ball more towards middle and off before playing through the leg side.

    Well, Pietersen would sometimes do whatever he wanted taking any delivery to the leg side, but not at that point of his innings.


  8. Miami Dad's Six Aug 26, 2017 / 6:55 am

    James Hildreth? I am struggling to muster any other names of eligible county pros averaging over 40.


  9. d'Arthez Aug 26, 2017 / 7:14 am

    Batsmen averaging over 40, and possibly eligible for England

    Ballance (dropped), Alex Davies, Lawrence, Robson (dropped), Trott (retired), Eskinazi, ten Doeschate (ought to be eligible now), Browne, Bopara. Funnily enough there is this guy, who is averaging over 60 in the first division, is available for selection, and yet can’t be picked by the WICB.

    Plenty of options. Some might be relatively new to the professional game though.


  10. Mark Aug 26, 2017 / 8:58 am

    I didn’t watch any of it yesterday. Not even the highlights. I saw Englands score. One of the reasons I have an issue with Cook, and the the whole in house Cook media is they really believe test cricket is as good as it has ever been. I’m sorry, I’m just not buying it.

    Yes, the modern players are fitter, and their fielding is more athletic. (Not convinced their catching, particularly their close catching is any better.) And yes they can play all these new 20/20 shots but what use would those have been against top quality fast bowling? We saw how the modern player got on against Mitchell Johnson in 2014. Not very well. Nobody averaged more than 29 in that series.

    I would love to have seen this lot up against the great WI sides of the 70s/80s. Not pretty I think. Just as well Johnson has retired or the Ashes down under would be a blow out again.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tom Aug 26, 2017 / 11:49 am

    Although I love this blog and all those that comment here, I just can’t be arsed with this series anymore. There’s no-one to blame other than the administrators who thought the current series was a good idea. After doing all I could to be able to watch and listen to the previous series against SA this is just boring and is not a true test series and is not what we want before the Ashes, for so many reasons. I’ll watch the scores but that’ll be about it.

    I wish everyone well and will be back for the Ashes series with more stupid questions and observations (I won’t have to deal with all the media restrictions the ECB apply in the UK), and for all of you playing club cricket for the next month or so, I hope your season ends well!



  12. Rooto Aug 26, 2017 / 12:13 pm

    I’ve stopped feeling that I’m being patronising when I talk up the Windies’* chances. I’m just being optimistic. So many on the radio and in the papers have written them off – even in this match – that it feels like it’s them, not me, who are projecting their hopes onto the team’s performance rather than actually watching.
    Lunch on day two, and we’re still in it. That’s something to celebrate.

    *I’ll still call them Windies, for brevity’s sake. It’s daft to formalize it, but as someone registered on this and other sites as merely ‘Rooto’ – my nickname – I don’t feel I can cast the first stone in this subject.


  13. man in a barrel Aug 26, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    Can someone explain why you would post 4 slips and bowl in swingers without anyone catching on the leg-side? Broad didn’t manage to pitch any delivery on the stumps. Stokes was even wider. It could be another difficult winter for the England bowlers

    Liked by 1 person

  14. d'Arthez Aug 26, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Probably the first time in a year that a Test involving England was not practically over after Day 2. All it required was some extremely sloppy batting from England on Day 1.

    Of course, it does not mean that Test cricket is in a decent shape.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. nonoxcol Aug 26, 2017 / 4:28 pm

    *disbelieving laugh at score from pub/restaurant in 30 degree C Prague



  16. Rooto Aug 26, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    The best and worst of TMS within 5 minutes. Swann’s attempt at saying ‘Roston Chase’s in a cod Caribbean accent, followed by Simon Mann saying “rumours that Duncan Fletcher will be wheeled out to speak to the press at the end of play have been scotched”.

    Am really chuffed for the WI team. This is the sort of promise that should make people more angry about the Big 3 shit, not less. The West Indies are not dead yet. We have to keep them alive.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. oreston Aug 26, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    Genuinely happy that West Indies are competing. If they can put on another fifty in the morning and stretch their lead to 120+ then England will find themselves under a little pressure with Gabriel and Roach steaming in at them. There’s a long way to go and for once the outcome isn’t altogether predictable. To put it another way, we might just have a Test match on our hands.


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