If one thing defined today, it was missed opportunities. Both teams were rueing missed DRS reviews, drops and misfields which, had they been taken, could have put them in the driving seat for this game.
The day started with the West Indies in the box seat after Day 2. They were already 71 runs ahead with only 5 wickets down (including a nightwatchman), and they had the chance to put England in an impossible situation with the bat. Jimmy Anderson put paid to that idea in the first two balls of the day, taking two wickets. If you were going to be critical, which would probably be harsh to Shai Hope in particular who amassed 147 runs the day before, both balls were short and wide enough to be left.
Immediately the momentum had swung towards England, West Indies going from 329/5 to 329/7 in two balls and they would be lucky to stretch their lead much past 100. They had that stroke of luck when Moeen Ali dropped an incredibly simple chance to dismiss Jermaine Blackwood from Broad’s bowling in the next over. This drop allowed the West Indies to bat through the rest of the session, and by Lunch they had increased their lead to 169.
England’s innings started with an unusual change of pace, with Stoneman looking more dangerous and fluent than the more experienced Cook. Together they posted the first 50 partnership for this duo, and only the second of this summer for England, before Cook edged a ball from Holder to the wicketkeeper. With the West Indies now feeling on top, Stoneman and Westley did well to survive until Tea.
In the first over of the evening session, Jason Holder managed to get the ball to cut into Mark Stoneman, hitting him on the hand and dislocating his finger. The England physio ‘relocated’ it (I suggest you don’t look at the photos), and Stoneman continued. Shortly after that, Westley was lucky to survive a run-out when he was ballwatching whilst Stoneman was running for a second, with only Bishoo’s failure to safely gather the ball saving him. Westley didn’t manage to cash in however, instead choosing to chase a wide swinging ball in the next over but edging it to the keeper.
Stoneman was bowled by Shannon Gabriel soon after, although replays suggested that Gabriel was lucky not to have conceded a front foot no ball with perhaps just the smallest fraction of his boot behind the line. Perhaps. This brought in Dawid Malan, who was fortunate to survive early on when he got a very faint edge which wasn’t given out on the field and the West Indies elected not to review. Clearly Dawid Malan is a shit bloke. A few overs later they spurned another chance, as Kyle Hope dropped a sliced shot from Joe Root which went right at him at gully. Root also survived being given out LBW after he reviewed the decision, as well as an unsuccessful LBW review by Holder.
The strangest cricket was left for the end though. In the penultimate over of the day, the West Indies’ specialist spinner Bishoo was brought out for what was only his second over of the day. This seems a particularly odd decision when England’s frailties against spin bowling are considered. Following that, the final over from Shannon Gabriel began with two wides, one of which also went for 4, and a no ball. These free runs meant that England finished the day leading by 2 runs with 7 wickets remaining.
For anyone keeping count, there were 6 overs short today, as well as 5 on the first day. I know a lot of people don’t care, but it bugs me that Stokes will likely be banned for swearing a few times whilst there’s no punishment for not fulfilling a fairly basic requirement of the game. I wrote a post here recently about it, which I’d love you to read and comment on even if you disagree.
As always, comments welcome below.