England vs West Indies: 2nd Test, Day Two

Remarkable.  Outside of the team itself, barely anyone would have picked the West Indies to have a day like this.  It wasn’t just that they were dominant, it’s also that it was on the back of a good day yesterday too – consolidating their position, and by the close of play creating one of strength.  Kraigg Brathwaite has shown for some time he has the right mental approach and patience for Test cricket, not least a mere two Tests ago against Pakistan.  In a struggling side he’s the one batsman of experience and ability, but even with that said, the omnishambles of the first Test made this a particularly impressive innings.  Shai Hope, in scoring his maiden Test century, was perhaps even more exceptional, not least how he didn’t allow the excitement of the achievement to distract him from his greater purpose, of getting his team in the ascendant.  Few would have blamed a young player had he got out soon after the landmark, but instead he carried on, and overnight is closing in on 150.

England could have bowled better for sure; although they took two early wickets, neither Anderson and nor particularly Broad got it quite right, the tendency to bowl short and admire the ball prettily whistling past a raised bat being much too frequent.  It wasn’t until Woakes came on for a decidedly unlucky initial spell that the batsmen were given cause to have to play forward rather than staying comfortably on the back foot.  Thereafter, Woakes was fairly unthreatening, perhaps not altogether surprising in a player returning from injury.  But these were good bowling conditions across the day, which made the 246 run fourth wicket stand all the more impressive.  The ball seamed and swung throughout the day, unsurprisingly lessening as it got older, but still with something in it for the pace men throughout.

A couple of late wickets seemed to herald an England fightback.  The dismissal of Brathwaite brought Roston Chase to the middle, and having been sat in his pads all day, it was the most predictable thing in the world that he would fall cheaply.  Any possibility of a late in the day collapse was however stemmed by Jermaine Blackwood meeting triumph and disaster in the way he always does – with a flurry of shots.

England are perhaps deservedly paying for their profligacy with the bat on day one.  Maybe it was complacency, and while that may never be acceptable, it could be deemed understandable given the turkey shoot of the first Test.  For the tourists to take advantage of that should warm the cockles of anyone who truly loves Test cricket, not just for the sharp reminder to England but more importantly for what it might do for this West Indies team.  The appalling disparity in resources between the rich and poor in world cricket hasn’t gone away; the fears for the future of the game outside the Big Three are still there, but over the last two days the West Indies have played with defiance, heart and considerable skill.  It is a joy to see.

There’s another element here too.  After two days of this Test the West Indies are on top, but the outcome of the match is uncertain.  Over 140 years of Test cricket this wasn’t worthy of comment, for a five day Test match could seesaw for some time before the outcome became apparent.  But in recent times this hasn’t been the case – the second day has consistently been the one where one team decisively took charge, with the remainder of the match being played out to an inevitable outcome.  This could yet become a real, proper Test match.  One where both sides strive to defeat the other, not go through the motions with the result known to all long in advance.  When cricket is like this, it justifies the belief of those who care about it that Tests are the greatest form of the greatest game, where every session, every bowling spell, every wicket holds the greatest of importance within the wider pattern of the unfolding match.

Is it possible we might just get that?  England are by no means out of it, the difference between the sides is such that they will feel they can manage a sizeable deficit and still win, but the visitors will know that they have a prime opportunity to take this chance and square the series.  There will be many cheering them on, and not just fans of the team.  Cricket West Indies might not deserve it, the ICC might not deserve it, but this inexperienced shadow side who have performed so valiantly in this match do.  And perhaps more than anyone, those who love cricket for the sake of cricket and not for what it can do to the bank balances of the already wealthy deserve it.

Day three might well be a fantastic day of Test cricket.  Extraordinary.

 

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34 thoughts on “England vs West Indies: 2nd Test, Day Two

  1. jennyah46 August 26, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    Well said Chris. I’m with you all the way. A fine post.

    Like

  2. oreston August 26, 2017 / 7:12 pm

    A wonderful summation of how, I sense, many will be feeling. Whoever eventually wins let’s hope the rest of the game lives up to the promise of the first two days.
    England’s top order is fragile enough (with the three newcomers no doubt feeling increasing pressure to perform and justify their selection) without the additional matter of a first innings deficit to overcome. If West Indies manage to bowl as effectively as they did first time round (and hold their catches…) it could all become mighty interesting.

    Like

  3. man in a barrel August 26, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    This England batting line-up has a recent history of folding under pressure in the 2nd innings. If WIndies can get 150 ahead then things could get very interesting. Was it 2 or 3 tests last winter when England batted first and posted 400+,only to get creamed by India

    Liked by 1 person

  4. emasl August 26, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    I gave up on day one of the first Test against the W Indies but thought I would give this a whirl and have found that I have been glued to my tv since it started. Such a pleasure to see a Test where it may go the full five days, when we are not assured of the outcome as you have mentioned in your article Chris. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I still find it hard, however, to summon any joy in England’s achievements as long as Anderson and Broad are there, I think they are a ghastly pair but at least we are spared the constant shots of Cook, as captain, picking his nose now that the cameras largely ignore him…..thank goodness

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rooto August 26, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    Excellent post. So true in many things.
    Just a thought on the idea of this being a balanced test. What if WI add 150 further runs tomorrow, and have England 5 down by the close, before wrapping it up on Monday? That could still be seen as a dominant test that never eluded the grip of the first team to grasp hold of it, like all the others have been this summer. Of course, what I just laid out is still fairly unlikely, because the WI team don’t have a track record of dominant performances. However, let me phrase it differently…
    What if England continue to bowl badly, letting the oppo’s lower order put on unnecessary runs? Perhaps England will bowl too short, the captain will not contradict underperforming senior bowlers, and there’s no effective plan B. The match situation will get away from them. Then, the top order will fold like a cheap suit when some 3rd innings scoreboard pressure is applied, and only the last rites of the match will need to be carried out by the time Monday comes around. That sounds a whole lot more plausible, doesn’t it?! There’s a track record, right there! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez August 26, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      I still fear that West Indies will mess this up. After all, they have not much experience winning Tests away from home (if you exclude Bangladesh, they have won in South Africa in 2007, and in the UAE in 2016). If it had been West Indies who had posted 258, and England who’d reached 329/5, it would be close to game over. The weight of history, and the lack of resources, compared to other Test playing teams being taken in consideration.

      Of course, I’d love to see the West Indies win this, for the international game desperately needs all sides to be competitive. If the West Indies can develop, and somehow retain the players for the international game (and thus not lose them to the 23523672 T20 leagues that are planned or in operation), that would really help the international game.

      I fear of course that even if they do win, it would only be the exception to the general malaise, which then will be used to increase the general malaise, through more shenanigans at the ICC level. As the Ancient Greeks (Thucydides) put it:
      “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

      I honestly would not be surprised if the last time that a non-Big 3 side wins a series against a Big 3 side in the history of Test cricket is already behind us, despite Australia and England’s spotty record in Asia, and India’s not so impressive record in South Africa and New Zealand.

      Like

      • d'Arthez August 27, 2017 / 10:09 am

        So West Indies had the advantage, and lose 2 wickets in the first two balls of the day.

        Like

        • thelegglance August 27, 2017 / 10:10 am

          They still have the advantage. A sizeable one, even if they’re all out for what they have now.

          Like

          • d'Arthez August 27, 2017 / 10:36 am

            Of course they still had an advantage, but not as big.

            Usually batting last is a bit of a penalty, and a lead of 75 on first innings is just about par for the side batting last. A lead of 71 with 3 wickets left, two of which belong to rabbits, is a slight advantage, but nothing more.

            I really would not count on Gabriel and Roach to hang around long. This eight wicket stand is key. If it does not add too many runs, England will have dodged a bullet. If these two batsmen can add another 75-100 runs between them, West Indies will have done reasonably well today with the bat.

            Like

          • thelegglance August 27, 2017 / 10:37 am

            England are a much better side than the West Indies. Not surprising really they’ve fought back this morning. 100+ lead is wildest dreams time for the Windies.

            Like

  6. man in a barrel August 26, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    The episode that puzzled me was in the afternoon session when Anderson went round the wicket to bowl in-swingers to right-hand batsmen with 3 slips and no short legs. Counter-intuitive is not the word to describe my thoughts

    Like

    • thelegglance August 26, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Yeah, it was a bit puzzling. But they were trying things, seeing if it worked. Given the recent history of stuff like bowling dry, I can’t bring myself to complain at them giving the unusual a go.

      Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel August 26, 2017 / 9:51 pm

        I agree with you…but Anderson is not intelligent enough. Coming round the wicket, his stock delivery had to be going across the batsman, with the occasional in-ducker. Anderson bowled a series of in-swingers. Brathwaite knew that every delivery would swing in and played him with ease.

        Like

  7. man in a barrel August 26, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    It seems that the revamped cricinfo site denies access to hawkeye. Woakes was bowling at 80 for his final spell and the greates bowling pair ever were also well down on pace. Woakes is not fit. Yet another bad or stupid mistake by the England selectors. Don’t pick unfit bowlers!!!!!! Mind you, Stokes is maybe an international 5th seamer at the moment.

    Like

  8. Benny August 27, 2017 / 7:06 am

    I’ll probably kick the telly when I hear “proper test cricket” for the thousandth time. What we’re seeing this match is a battle and that’s when cricket becomes gripping and hooks you. Have to praise the two centurions. They batted superbly.

    I read that James Anderson said “we didn’t bowl very well”. Wish the interviewer had asked “Why not?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone August 27, 2017 / 7:30 am

      This, England often have trouble when there isn’t much swing. But (not having been able to watch) it seems there was some swing, but it wasn’t used well? Or did it only swing short of a length?

      Like

    • BoredInAustria August 27, 2017 / 10:48 am

      From the Guardian: “You can’t be inconsistent and win series and we have got a big one coming up in Australia,” Anderson said. “I thought we had started to resolve this problem this summer.”

      Started. It is like building.

      Like

  9. SimonH August 27, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Potentially interesting series under way in Bangladesh with blatant home-advantage taking on financial-doping. With Starc and SNJOK out, I’d make Bangladesh favourites.

    It doesn’t look a particularly good crowd.

    Like

    • SimonH August 27, 2017 / 10:12 am

      And it’s raining…. and the weather forecast is for 60-80% chance of rain for every day the match is scheduled. (Admittedly, and hopefully, online forecasts aren’t always the most reliable).

      Just bad luck? August is still defined as the monsoon season in Bangladesh. Although it isn’t the average wettest month of the year, leaving it until Sept/Oct would make quite a difference. But the best weather must be reserved for T20 and the B3 playing each other.

      Looks like it might be time to rearrange the words ICC, piss-up and brewery into a sentence once again….

      Like

  10. thelegglance August 27, 2017 / 10:30 am

    This is one of most barking mad first 30 minutes of play I’ve seen in a while.

    Like

  11. BoredInAustria August 27, 2017 / 10:54 am

    And poor Stokes has been picked up by the Stump Mike Police…

    Like

    • thelegglance August 27, 2017 / 11:01 am

      He would be wise to let slip a swear word or two during the ODIs and get the ban out of the way.

      Like

      • d'Arthez August 27, 2017 / 11:31 am

        Ah yes, gaming the system. How very gentlemanly. And how very unobvious. Demerit points should obviously only matter in the format in which they are accrued (and you could argue that 2 demerit points is enough to serve a ban in any particular format).

        Players like Root, Stokes, who play all three formats are under constant scrutiny in the current system. Players who just play 1 format know when they’re effectively free to do as they please, because the fixtures are known in advance.

        Like

        • thelegglance August 27, 2017 / 11:35 am

          Stupid systems get gamed. Rabada’s ban signalled that this was going to be an issue for several.

          Like

  12. "IronBalls" McGinty August 27, 2017 / 11:19 am

    ‘Ere….this second division? What teams would we likely be playing in it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • thebogfather August 27, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Whichever teams Cookie/ECB feel he can eventually pass Tendulkar’s Test runs total…?

      Like

  13. thebogfather August 27, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    An observation from actually being able to see the commencement of the afternoon session…

    Start of Eng 2nd innings, Cook leads the way, leaving Stoneman 5 yards behind, from dressing room all the way to the crease… now, accepting the possibility that Stoneman may not like chatter/encouragement as he prepares to bat, but surely an opening pair should at least look like a partnership in strength and joined mind? As it was, Stoneman actually looked as though he was there to make up the numbers, subservient to the Dauphin.
    Anyone else see this? Is this a common Cook + whoever scene?

    Like

    • thebogfather August 27, 2017 / 2:27 pm

      Oh, Alastair
      Once more
      When a second innings score
      Is needed
      You’ve failed us again, rarely succeeded…

      Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus August 27, 2017 / 2:38 pm

      One more.

      Two words. Nick Compton.

      Two more. English media.

      When asked what he was saying…

      “Ad nauseun on about technique and how can’t be fixed”

      Like

      • Mark August 27, 2017 / 3:31 pm

        All you need to know about that charlatan is on his Twitter feed…….”former ghost of Alastair Cook”

        Are there any real journalists that cover English cricket or are they all ECB cultists?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rooto August 27, 2017 / 4:36 pm

        The pair of them are as tainted as each other. Essex mafioso versus management talent-pusher.

        Like

    • BoredInAustria August 27, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      As reliable as Old Faithful 🙂
      Keep well.

      Like

  14. d'Arthez August 27, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    S. Ravi.: ball misses stumps – let’s give Root out. Root reviews.
    S. Ravi: ball is projected to hit the stumps – let’s give Malan not out. That was all of 5 minutes later.

    Might as well play roulette instead of having this joker of an umpire. The ICC should seriously consider it, as the betting money they would earn this way would be a crucial addition of funds for the poor boards of India, England and Australia …

    Liked by 1 person

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