England v West Indies: 2nd Test, Day Five

Fabulous.  Despite the assorted efforts of governing bodies around the world to undermine it, Test cricket can still show itself to be the greatest exponent of the greatest game.  Those who want four day Test matches would rob us of days like these, they would remove the sheer drama, the extraordinary tension of cricket at its very best.  These people mustn’t win, they cannot win.  They cannot steal from fans, players and the game itself by removing the sheer drama of a fifth day run chase.  If this game doesn’t shut them up, then nothing will.  Yes, there are matches that don’t go to this point, but those that do tend to be the very best of all.  To coin a phrase or two, it’s time they piped down.  Moved on.

What a day.  Few gave the West Indies much chance, and there’s certainly no claimed wisdom after the event from this quarter either.  Survival seemed remote, victory seemed impossible.  Those taking advantage of the superbly price final day tickets (well done Yorkshire CCC, take note London grounds) would have gone expecting to see an England win, and maybe James Anderson taking his 500th Test wicket.  Instead what they saw were a pair of innings of the highest quality from Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope.  Having done it in the first innings, and got their team into a position of dominance that was then thrown away late on the fourth day, they did it again, but this time under serious pressure.

Sure, England made mistakes – Cook has been a very reliable slip catcher after an iffy start to his career, but here dropped Brathwaite on 4, and late on dropped Hope when it was just about possible to claw something from the day.  These things do happen sometimes, and even Stokes dropped a fairly straightforward one late on, albeit when it was too late to matter.  England’s bowling wasn’t as good as it could have been, and certainly the pitch didn’t deteriorate as they had hoped for a fifth day surface.  The spin expected didn’t transpire, the ball didn’t swing as much as anticipated, and without question they lacked penetration all day.

One thing that shouldn’t be criticised (but almost certainly will be) was Root’s decision to declare.  Setting a team 322 really ought to be enough, in almost all circumstances, and when the opposition are a weak side who managed to lose 19 wickets in a day last time out, it was an entirely reasonable, if aggressive declaration.  What it might do is prevent Root from doing it again, and that would be a shame.  Conservative declarations have been the order of business for England captains in recent times, and Kevin Pietersen was pilloried for the defeat in Chennai for his declaration (even though it was 9 wickets down when he did so).  If the same happens to Root for this, then he’ll be even more unlikely to repeat it, potentially costing England a win in other circumstances.  Of all the reasons England lost this match, an early declaration isn’t one of them.  To his credit, after the match he stood by it.  He’s right.

For today was all about the West Indies.  When something special happens, it is always the case that one side can be criticised for their performance causing defeat, rather than the other being praised for winning.  By definition, if a side gets over the line, they have done better than their opponents, and it’s always a trade off between high performance on the one hand and underperformance on the other.  Let’s be clear here:  England were definitely not awful, they didn’t lose this game, the West Indies won it.

Shai Hope is beautifully named, for a young player who has for some time been very highly rated in the Caribbean hasn’t up until now shown that talent in the Test arena.  Headingley 2017 might just be the time when he announced himself.  His first innings hundred was exceptional, his second innings one truly memorable.  Alongside Brathwaite, he frustrated the England bowlers, slowly chipping away at the formidable total, eating up time and grinding down England.

No-one before has ever scored two centuries in the same match at Headingley, and yet here there were nearly two.  Brathwaite fell for 95, but his young colleague not only seemed entirely unfazed by the situation, but by his own personal milestones.  His muted celebration on scoring his hundred indicated a player focused on the win, not his personal achievement.  He is a talent.

As the target dropped below three figures, and with the departure of Brathwaite, the man England would really not have wanted to get in was Jermaine Blackwood.  Playing a shot a ball he made a mockery of the required run rate, removing any pressure that might have built up as a team entirely unused to winning became aware that they just might have a real sniff.  Of course, it could have gone wrong.  He could have got out cheaply and then the pressure might have told.  But the point with all of these things is that he didn’t and it didn’t.  He took a risk, backed himself and it paid off handsomely.  While the others may have got more runs, he was the one who led the charge home, and took the strain from Shai Hope.  That he wasn’t there at the end following a magnificently over the top wild swing at the ball is pure Blackwood.  May he never change.

The raw words can barely do justice to what occurred today.  Irrespective of what happened here, the West Indies are not a good side.  England might not be a great team, they’re not even consistently a good team, but they are a much, much better side than their opponents.  For three and a half days the West Indies dominated them, and then England’s power and depth turned the tables.  The Test match was gone, it had been thrown away.  To then recover from that, to and not just win, but win comfortably, is the stuff of dreams.

It changes very little.  The West Indies remain a weakened and often dysfunctional side run by a shambolic governing body.  The disparity in pay between the haves in England, Australia and India versus the rest is still there.  Test cricket is still in trouble, players are still leaving to milk the T20 cow.  But sometimes there is a game that can sit outside of that.  Acknowledging the problems and the challenges doesn’t mean ignoring the play, and this was a reminder of just why it can be so special.

Well done the West Indies.  You were truly, truly magnificent.  England batted badly first time around, but they were by no means awful. They were outplayed ultimately by a team that was for whatever reason, humiliation from the first Test perhaps, utterly inspired.  It won’t just be West Indies fans celebrating, it will be neutrals too, and many an England fan who loves West Indies cricket, and above all else loves cricket for the sake of it.  Of all the home series England have played in the last few years, who would ever have thought it would be the West Indies who achieved this acute emotional response?

Rarely has a defeat for England felt so enjoyable.  Not because of them, not because of anything they did, but because of how extraordinary the West Indies were.  Hoping that they build on it may be an aspiration too far, but for now they can celebrate.  Their long suffering supporters can celebrate.

Above all else, cricket can celebrate.  That has to be worth pausing for, surely?






85 thoughts on “England v West Indies: 2nd Test, Day Five

  1. Pontiac Aug 29, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    It certainly made a hyena very happy to see this. Up until the last half hour it was hard to believe that it could really be so.

    This and Lyon’s work yesterday have been a real positive. And have rekindled my optimism somehow, in a inchoate sense.


  2. Mark Aug 29, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    Nasser just brought up the big 3 and how they are trying to leave everyone behind. I nearly fell off my couch. He then went on about all the SA players coming here to play county cricket, and ABD retiring.

    The England coach said he would be taking the positives. Good luck with that. England played poorly and lost. Not many positives to take really. Once again Ali failed to bowl out a side on the last day. Doesn’t seem to be able to do it when expected. Rashid on his home patch might have been interesting but he has been discarded. Woakes looked rusty, and will be better for the run out. His selection was a sign of complacency. However much they want to claim they didn’t underestimate the WI they thought they could ease him back in for this test match.

    And when it don’t swing and seam Broad and Anderson are not the force their wickets would have you believe. All this and when you have 3 of your top batsman struggling you can only rely on the lower order so often. 250 was pretty poor first innings effort.

    As usual they are going over the top. Is this the rebirth of WI cricket? Wait till Lords before we judge that.

    Good luck to WI they have had a bad time of it of late, and a very good chase to win the game. Considering where they were coming from into this match they have batted very well.


    • Cricketjon Aug 30, 2017 / 5:07 am

      It is instructive to find Nasser so transparent about the big 3 !!!


  3. northernlight71 Aug 29, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    What really disappoints me is that Shai Hope apparently pronounces his first name as “Shay” not as “Shy.”
    Everything else about today warmed my heart, however.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Aug 29, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    Bob is off his long run about Roland Jones. 14 wickets at under 20 and he is dumped out of the side. Well done England. The way they disguard players, and keep others is mind blowing.


    • oreston Aug 29, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      He’s right. Woakes was clearly undercooked and brought back too soon. He was struggling for pace and line. Including Stokes, I think England had effectively 2.5 seam bowlers in this match. Too much fell on Broad and Anderson and, as it happened, neither was able to produce a match winning spell today. Yes, there were dropped catches – but if West Indies had held more catches in England’s first innings we’d have lost by an even bigger margin.


      • thelegglance Aug 29, 2017 / 9:10 pm

        Woakes rather honestly said so himself that he’d not been good in the match.


        • oreston Aug 29, 2017 / 10:52 pm

          I don’t blame Woakes himself for the selection decision. And he contributed pretty usefully with the bat.


          • thelegglance Aug 29, 2017 / 10:54 pm

            He did. And it is a big ask of someone who has been out for two months to come in and perform straight away. He really did about as well as could be expected.


          • quebecer Aug 29, 2017 / 11:50 pm

            Yeah, but the trouble was, his runs weren’t a deciding factor in this match: it was out lack of wickets that did it.

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2017 / 7:29 am

            The day before it looked like they might well be, which just goes to show the remarkable turnaround in this game.


          • oreston Aug 30, 2017 / 3:21 am

            I’m sure he did as well as he reasonably could’ve done (and he’s a player who always gives 100% of whatever he has to give) but is that the point? Surely it would’ve been better if he he’d been allowed to continue his return to match fitness in the County Championship with Warwickshire (heaven knows they need the help) and to have retained TRJ? I know hindsight’s a wonderful thing…


          • Mark Aug 30, 2017 / 7:59 am

            I’m not blaming Woakes, but it was a poor selection to drop a player who came in and performed really well. What message does that send to other players who came in and perform? Man in possession and playing well obviously means nothing to the selection panel.

            If RJ was a top flight batsman he would not have been dropped. It’s the usual easy option of discarding a bowler. England did this because they took WI for granted. (Maybe undestandable seeing how poor they were in first test) They thought Woakes could have a nice easy match back.

            Truth is they don’t rate RJ as a player to pick if everyone is fit. Doesn’t matter how well he performs…… he is just a squad player. He will have to decide if that is what he wants. To carry the drinks tray in Australia. Will they pick him on his home ground for the final test match?


          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2017 / 10:49 am

            Let me play devil’s advocate here for a moment:

            Given the (stupid) schedule over the next year or so, players are going to have to be rested and rotated a lot anyway, whether in Tests or ODIs. Woakes fully fit is an integral part of the team, but he’s been injured and needs overs under his belt. The West Indies are weak, and we can probably get away with using this one to put some miles on his legs and still win. TRJ has done well, we know he’s a good alternate option, so we’ll bring Woakes back here and he’ll be all the better for it come the winter.

            Oh bugger, it’s gone wrong and we’ve lost. Still, that was the plan and we stick by it (if not admit it).

            (me now). I can see the argument, and had England won it probably would have made sense. And to be fair no one saw that West Indies performance coming. I’d also not beat up on Woakes’ bowling too much, partly because of him returning from injury as mentioned, but mainly because the others weren’t exactly much better yesterday either.


          • Mark Aug 30, 2017 / 11:09 am

            Your theory would have more merit if England had “rested” either Broad or Anderson. Both over 30 in age and with nothing to prove. RJ was in great form, and building his confidence. But I suspect they would not do that because those two are to big to drop when there was easy wickets on offer.

            Woakes was clearly not match fit enough to be played in this game. Test matches are not the place to get fit. Keep him in county cricket for the end of the season. I see no reason to rush him back at the expense of a new player who had taken his chance.

            What do they do now? Play him at Lords or bring back RJ on his home ground? Maybe they don’t intend to take RJ to Australia. Perhaps they think he will not be effective on those pitches.

            Yesterday just makes you wish they would persevere with Rashid. The bowling attack is very bland when the pitch is flat. We need something different.

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2017 / 11:10 am

            Yep, that’s the problem with it alright.


  5. Silk Aug 29, 2017 / 7:04 pm

    Magnificent cricket from the West Indies. Simply magnificent.


  6. dannycricket Aug 29, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    I think the way forward for England is obvious: They should drop Alastair Cook so that he can work on his catching in the county championship.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. stephenfh Aug 29, 2017 / 7:19 pm

    Cricket at its most gripping this afternoon, Michael Atherton mentioned that it was Windies first win here for 17 years so hopefully it will give test cricket in the Caribbean a shot in the arm. A positive for England was Mason Crane’s catch which on another day might have been a game turner.


  8. Rooto Aug 29, 2017 / 7:21 pm

    Couldn’t find anything to disagree with in your summation, TLG, and the sheer joy and hope come shining through. Great stuff! Let’s see how the bastards ruin it for us!!!
    More seriously, this result must be taken as a sign of life in a diseased patient rather than an excuse for “everything’s fine. Headingley proved it.” It gives me hope (that word again) that we can legitimately campaign for a better situation, because it’s not too late. However, ignore the chance to reorganise, reform and redress the balance, and it soon will be. Now, while I’m on my high horse, which windmills should I tilt my lance at? I trust you guys. You can point me in the right direction.


  9. nonoxcol Aug 29, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    Bet Colin Graves is loving this latest triumph of mediocrity.

    Topical satire, ladies and gents, eyethanku.

    Though we *are* currently sat on only two series wins against WI in the last four, with the fifth series now in the balance


  10. jomesy Aug 29, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    Brilliantly put LGL


    • Zephirine Aug 29, 2017 / 11:05 pm

      Seconded – great piece of writing.


    • quebecer Aug 29, 2017 / 11:53 pm

      He’s been excellent all test. But in all honesty, the match reports here are as good if not better than anything else around anywhere.


    • BoredInAustria Aug 30, 2017 / 4:48 am

      Lovely read LGL. Thank you


  11. metatone Aug 29, 2017 / 8:03 pm

    Watching a bit of the bowling, I’m really not looking forward to the Ashes unless something is changed. Indeed, if the weather is dry (far from guaranteed) I can see Lords being a very troublesome game for England.


  12. oreston Aug 29, 2017 / 8:31 pm

    Can’t disagree with a single word of this post, TLG. This match was a bittersweet reminder of what Test cricket can be – even when played by two teams each with their fair share of problems and flaws.
    I deliberately went cold turkey on updates during the day and watched the C5 highlights with no idea of the outcome. Very glad I did.
    One thing that struck me was Joe Root’s body language as the game slowly ebbed away from England. There were far too many shots of him burying his face in his hands and shaking his head. Maybe it didn’t make much difference to the outcome but I’m not sure how you inspire match winning performances in others when you’re so obviously full of doubt yourself. His shortage of captaincy experience was all too evident – or is it just the modern way that the most important thing is that the other guys know that you feel their pain?


    • Zephirine Aug 29, 2017 / 11:17 pm

      I think Root just doesn’t do deadpan. He’s never going to be a controlled impassive captain who gives nothing away. Perhaps he’s too much one of the guys, but so far it seems to work.


      • oreston Aug 29, 2017 / 11:36 pm

        He’s certainly a much better bet than his predecessor, I’ll give him that. I’m not saying he should be a Jardine-like figure, but to be an effective leader you can’t also be just one of the guys (at least not all the time) and you do need to give the impression that YOU believe in what you’re doing. I don’t want to be too harsh, though. The declaration was absolutely the right decision (and I’m glad he stood by it in his interview with Nicholas after the game) because England had shown much more resolve with the bat yesterday than many would’ve feared/expected given recent experience. It was a fine team effort and looked like it had finally hauled us into a strong position. The problem was that the West Indies also remembered how to bat as though you actually want to win a Test match and England didn’t have either the luck (the Ruston Chase runout notwithstanding) or the firepower to bowl them out today.


        • oreston Aug 29, 2017 / 11:42 pm

          Of course I meant the Kyle Hope runout…


      • oreston Aug 30, 2017 / 10:48 am

        I can’t really disagree with you on that…


  13. Mark Aug 29, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    I agree about the declaration. Root should not get any blame for that. There was only about 5 overs left at the end so it wasn’t as if they had 20 overs to spare. England have been guilty of being far too conservative in the recent past so this was a good declaration.

    I have been critiscised for saying I didn’t think it was a good standard of cricket. I stand by that. Good luck to the WI batsman, but Englands bowling was worryingly toothless, and when they did get it right the catches went down. But that doesn’t mean it I don’t recognise a fantastic finish.

    Maybe a match that has a lot of mistakes makes for a better, closer game. Perhaps all the experts and coaches and trainers and diets and fitness, and phycologists have removed too much human error. Maybe human flaws add to the spectacle of a close contest. Ed Smith should write a paper on it.

    Let’s see how they all go at Lords. Certainly England will not be taking it lightly after this. I wonder how many games will be drawn if we have 4 day cricket?


  14. Pontiac Aug 29, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    One thing that surprised me sat in my cube monitoring the OBO today was that Anderson and Broad were bowling just before as well as after the new ball.

    For reasons of fatigue and diversity of presentation that seemed like a funny move, tactically.

    I will obviously watch all this once I get home but does anyone else raise an eyebrow at that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Aug 29, 2017 / 9:38 pm

      It was desperation really. They couldn’t afford to wait till the new ball, they needed wickets urgently.


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 29, 2017 / 10:34 pm

        This is what gets me with the 105 overs in a day merchants who want 4 day tests.

        1. It ignores the bleeding obvious that they can’t bowl 90 overs in 6 and a half hours, not aided by drinks breaks in the freezing cold, the ludicrous stoppages etc. Adverts have to be sold to pay the bills.

        2. If we do get 100 or 105 overs that is 10 or 15 more overs of fatigued cricket. It’s like the Amis line about why bother leading a healthy life to live long, when the years you get at the end are the shitty ones when you are senile / infirm. Or something like that. The last 10 or 15 overs of the day will see fewer people, poorer cricket, more knackered cricketers. The quality, especially in the bowling will decline.

        3. Four day tests will lead, inexorably, to the decline in the types of innings played by Brathwaite and Hope, and from an England point of view, Cook. You can’t afford for Alastair to plod through 100 over days at 130 not out. We’d need 180s in a day, and certainly not grafters. Also, how easy would it be for roads to be made, once you are 1-0 up in a series, knowing it has to last a day shorter. Fifth day wickets are a part of test’s rich last 70 years tapestry.

        4. As I’ve always said, we are where we are after Day 2. England about 100 behind. It rains all day. West Indies are fucked. England can’t possibly win. If this is a four day test, it’s ruined. At least if you have five, West Indies could bat their way up to 500, and have a day or so to bowl us out. Or they could collapse and England have a chance to exert last day pressure. Five days works so well, it would take an absolute bloody idiot to want to change it.

        5. The key proponents are Shiny Toy, Mediocre Man, #39 and The Empty Suit. When Sir Ian Hindsight is calling you a bloody idiot, you are in very iffy territory.

        Liked by 1 person

        • nonoxcol Aug 30, 2017 / 6:44 am

          I think 4-day Tests would be my final tipping point. Sincerely. The end. I don’t think the idea has any intrinsic merit whatsoever.

          Liked by 1 person

        • nonoxcol Aug 30, 2017 / 7:40 am

          39 still defending the idea. His Twitter feed is a shambles.


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2017 / 9:33 am

            Parkinson’s Law?

            That said. It’s not the dumbest feed I’ve seen today.


        • Mark Aug 30, 2017 / 8:13 am

          Agreed 100% boss. What frigging time are test matches going to end if they have to bowl an extra 15 overs a day? 8.45pm Good luck getting a train home after that. As usual no thought for the fan except how can we pick his pocket.

          4 day cricket will mean….. win the toss, and bat till lunch on the second day, and you can’t really lose from there. As you say….. go one up and then produce roads. Dire dire dire. And it never rains in England does it? So it won’t be 4 day tests but three day tests.

          The people who are pushing this must really hate test cricket, and want to finish it off. They want 20/20 style test matches. Why not just have a one day 20/20 two innings test match? 80 overs per day. Best of 15 day matches? Why do broadcasters employ 39 as the Anyalist when he seems to want the destruction of the very thing that earns him a living?

          Liked by 1 person

        • jennyah46 Aug 30, 2017 / 9:51 am

          England have plenty of big hitters to play around Cook. He gets out early when he tries to increase his run rate. You may as well drop him as expect him to step up the pace. Different players have different strengths and we need them all to play to the different demands.


          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2017 / 10:03 am

            He’s not criticising Cook, Jenny. He’s saying 4 day Tests would undermine players like him.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jennyah46 Aug 30, 2017 / 11:41 am

            Sorry Dmitri. I wasn’t fully concentrating when I was reading. Was planning a road trip through the Peloponnese at the same time. Reading forums and looking at the map! Must do better.


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2017 / 12:53 pm

            I guess these are the interpretations one deserves when I dedicated my life to writing an anti-Cook blog.

            The joy of test cricket is that it allows teams to play a myriad of players, especially batsmen. The defensive star, the one who accumulates (Cook), one who attacks, one who can play pace but not spin, one who can play spin but not pace, those with weaknesses managed, those with strengths denied. Losing a day 5 will mean fewer spinners, given fewer opportunities. Tests can be played on many varieties of pitches – Adelaide, a road for three days, a speed bump for the next two – would be less likely to yield a result.

            There’s nothing wrong with five day test cricket as a format. But some bright sparks think they know better.

            Liked by 1 person

      • oreston Aug 29, 2017 / 10:59 pm

        It didn’t look like wickets were going to come from anywhere else. With picking semi-fit bowlers seemingly an ECB speciality, I wonder what kind if attack England will have by the time the Ashes start. Most of the discussion seems to be around sorting out 2,3 and 5 in the batting line up, but the future of the bowling unit is also a concern.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Pontiac Aug 30, 2017 / 2:42 am

          Yeah, well, that’s just it. I mean, ok, Anderson 2 overs before tea then, what, 7 after it? It made the new ball less relevant and if you’re going to do something desperate at least try to be smart about it. I sure felt in over 70-something that if Broad and Anderson were bowling at that time there would be much less to fear later on and that if anything dramatic was going to happen at that point it would be primarily with the new ball. I suppose in some sense what Blackwood brings is squeezing out the oxygen in this kind of situation.

          Related: it’s quite a thing for the bowling side to (carefully… not…) complain about not coming off for bad light when it’s got the new ball for 15 overs on last day of a 5 day test. The light situation is another reason why I was surprised they didn’t plan to junk-ball until that time and make the last 50 runs to get as dangerous as possible because 50 runs in 15 overs might well be enough.

          (Shannon Gabriel’s swipe in Roseau this May still hurts…)


        • SimonH Aug 30, 2017 / 12:55 pm

          (Replying to Oreston) It’s worth pointing out that Australia have Starc and now Hazlewood out injured. Their bowling reserves don’t look too special (Cummins, Bird and Siddle all have issues around them involving fitness and/or quality).

          They also have issues in the batting (Khawaja looks a walking wicket against spin, Handscomb’s technique looks iffy, Wade isn’t making runs, Maxwell could be brilliant or terrible). At the moment, the Ashes looks like a contest between two sides with some undoubted talent but with major weaknesses and both appear highly brittle.

          More generally, on the subject of four-day Tests, two things to point out: 1) There’s been no evidence in the public domain that the idea was discussed in at least the last two ICC meetings 2) The media reporting was that it was the BCCI who were the ones who blocked it. This is if one can trust what appears in the media about ICC meetings and it’s not all smoke-and-mirrors.

          And finally…. well played Bangladesh on a deserved one – but please prepare a better pitch for the next game (I’d like to watch your batsmen build proper innings, Mustafizar have some role to play and the game last most of its designated 450 overs. Above all, I’d like to feel the toss didn’t make much difference).


          • man in a barrel Aug 30, 2017 / 4:43 pm

            A bit out of contact here but was there a fitness reason for not using Stokes more in the 2nd innings?


          • oreston Aug 30, 2017 / 7:18 pm

            Nice to know the Aussies have their issues too! (I’d never write them off though, especially on home turf.) It should be an interesting series this time – perhaps all the more so if it really is fought out between two somewhat flawed and occasionally slightly dysfunctional sides. And the coveted urn goes to… however f**ks up the least badly and has the fewest bowlers break down across five chaotic games (!)


        • Silk Aug 30, 2017 / 1:39 pm

          Bowling attack has been a long time concern for me. I don’t see Ali as a frontline spinner (though he had a brilliant series against SA), I don’t see Woakes as having the pace to bowl well overseas (though I’m told he was bowling at great pace last summer) and Anderson & Broad only have so many miles left in the tank.

          TRJ was a great find, but may not go as well overseas, and is no youngster. Currans might go well. Wood isn’t Test quality, for me. Then….?


          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2017 / 1:56 pm

            I’d be least worried about Moeen. Not because I think he’ll do well, but because off spinners do so badly down there. Our best in nearly half a century averaged over 40 in Australia; if Moeen gets remotely close to that he’s done brilliantly. The difference is that Swann was bowling in a four man attack, he was essential defensively to rotate the seamers.

            With this England side there are six front line bowlers, so the defensive job of the spinner isn’t quite so vital.

            For the seamers themselves, the last thing we want to do is worry about the pace of the ones we have, that way lies the carnage of last time. Broad was excellent last time, and he may well do the same again. Woakes shouldn’t remotely be judged on this game, he’s been bowling excellently for a year, and was good in South Africa (without a whole load of luck), which isn’t the worst comparison.


          • AB Aug 31, 2017 / 9:16 am

            As I pointed on on TFT – of the most successful 11 visiting spinners to Aus, 10 have been finger-spinners. The statistics suggest its a far harder place to visit as a leggie. Its just a hard place to bowl spin, full stop.

            Of the 10 most successful Australian spinners on home soil., its a 50:50 split.


          • SimonH Aug 31, 2017 / 9:28 am

            Yasir Shah had a horrific time there last winter.


          • thelegglance Aug 31, 2017 / 9:33 am

            Murali had a fairly rough time of it every visit.


          • Silk Aug 31, 2017 / 7:59 pm

            Replying to TLG – my concern about bowlers is more long term. We’ve relied on anderson and Broad for some time. What happens next?


  15. Mark Aug 30, 2017 / 8:18 am

    In other news….Bangladesh beat Aussie by 20 runs. Every cloud has a silver lining!


  16. KidVicious Aug 30, 2017 / 9:04 am

    Hi guys,
    Big follower of the blog but first time poster. I’m so pleased with the result, more for the spectacle of test cricket than out of any ill feelings towards ECB. My wife knows absolutely nothing about cricket, and having seen me transfixed by the game over the last 4 days asked me yesterday who was winning. When I told her I didn’t know she just couldn’t comprehend that after 4 and a half days of a match the result could remain unknown. For the good of the game these are matches you don’t mind losing – and I really don’t care that the standard wasn’t the highest. It was a sporting contest.

    I was listening to the game yesterday on tms whilst stuck in traffic when Braithwaite was given out. I celebrated the fall of the wicket as customary but it took me a little while to realise that it was rather a hollow feeling. I felt generally gutted for someone who ‘deserved’ a second century and was very relieved that Hope got his later. But it got me to thinking about why I felt rather deflated about England making what would have been an excellent hard fought comeback – and it reminded me of the Mitchell and Webb scene where the one of the WWII German soldiers asked the other “Are we the bad guys?”

    Despite everything that has happened over the past few years with English cricket I have always still wanted the team to win – this was quite a strange feeling for me. I couldn’t really shake this for most of the evening and ended up comparing it to the ridiculously bad Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball. England and the ECB seem to be akin to everything represented by the cartoonish antagonists – corporate, well-funded and rather unlikeable. I think the rest of the world will be very happy with this result too; Australia and India will be feeling their typical dose of schadenfreude (as I would be when it happens to them), but for South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the rest whose cricket has been disrupted by the Big 3 power grab must be feeling very content about now.

    I don’t want this post to sound bitter in the aftermath of such a great game so I will finish by saying congratulations to the West Indies on a thoroughly well-deserved victory, and I hope that Lords offers a similarly hard fought contest that highlights just how unique 5-day Test cricket is and how it should be protected.

    Anyway, keep up the good work guys

    Liked by 4 people

    • Elaine Simpson Long Aug 30, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Agree with every word. I still find it hard to want England to win fater the events of the last few years. I have a feeling I might find it easier when A derson, Broad and Cook are no longer there. I find the combo of those three, whose behavious in the past has been pretty poor, difficult to forgivr. And No I am not brimgimg up the You Know What upset again. But that is why I deel the way I do


  17. Elaine Simpson Long Aug 30, 2017 / 10:14 am

    West Indies? Easy Peasy? No probs. England, as per, made the same mistake when they won the first Test against SA and then got a nasty shock. Understandable after the show the W Indies put up in the first Test, but when will they ever learn that you can take bothing for granted in cricket? There is a complacency about the England camp that never goes away. Oh bring back Woakes, he needs a gentle run in after his injury time out. It is onlynthe West Indies afte all.

    And don’t tell me that was bot in their minds.i wouldn’t believe you.

    Loved every minute of this game. Loved it.


  18. man in a barrel Aug 30, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    I think in 1949, England hosted New Zealand for a series of 4 day Tests. NZ under Walter Hadlee packed the batting and drew every match. England débutants included Trevor Bailey and a certain DB Close. Is it surprising that no one involved with cricket knows this history?


    • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2017 / 2:45 pm

      All four tests comprised around 330-370 overs. None were close to a result.

      I thought the “golden goal” rule in football was absolutely superb. It made us think of ourselves playing football as kids in the park, with last goal wins. It meant a proper football outcome, rather than the circus is the penalty shootout, which, according to all commentators “fans love” (here’s a clue – I fucking don’t). It seemed eminently sensible that a football outcome rather than a contrived fairground competition would be preferable.

      But no. Golden goal meant teams were paralysed by fear. They played it safe and never came out. Boring football ensued as people would rather lose on a fairground game than have their tactical chops exposed. A move designed to make the game more exciting was stifled by the fear that surrounds losing.

      I don’t know if there are any parallels in cricket by shortening to 4 days. Can you think of any? Can you stand even more declaration speculation?


      • Mark Aug 30, 2017 / 3:33 pm

        My solution to how to decide football games that end in a draw……is to try and have less draws in the first place.

        If it’s going to end up in a penalty shoot out anyway then refs should give more penalties in the 90 minutes. Most corners these days are penalties. The amount of shirt pulling, and blatant blocking of runners. This would force the team behind to attack more and try and get back in the game.

        If the ref awarded say 3 penalties per game on average would this be preferable to the nonsense of a penalty shoot out at the end of extra time? Also the amount of bad tackles that defenders get away with in the box that would be given as a foul in the centre circle is a joke. At least you would have proper penalty takers taking them.

        I would also widen the goal by 4 inches and 2 inches in height. The average height of a 1950s goalkeeper was about 5’10. Today it’s about 6’4.

        Not cricket related but just saying!


    • AB Aug 31, 2017 / 9:14 am

      Is it surprising that no one involved with cricket knows this history?

      Not really. Everyone knows that ex-players automatically know everything, even when they actually know fuck-all.


  19. Quebecer Aug 30, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    Can I just say, I’ve been petrified by Pat Cummins since I first saw him. I felt in my heart way back then that this boy was at some point going to tear us apart. I think it’s coming.
    Concerned in Quebec.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Miami Dad's Six Aug 31, 2017 / 8:32 am

    Should international sides stop playing t20? It would create more room in the international schedule for Test cricket, AND for the domestic money making t20 gallivanters. Would anyone miss them? Would it help?


    • oreston Aug 31, 2017 / 2:36 pm

      To answer your questions in order: Yes, nobody that cares about Test cricket, and maybe.
      Sadly it’s not likely to happen though.


  21. KidVicious Aug 31, 2017 / 11:20 am

    I know this is a common topic on here, but I have just seen some Trevor Bayliss comments along the lines of “West Indies showed us what length to bowl”. This legacy of bowling dry is infuriating – a good ball is not one which “beats the bat”, it is one that threatens the opposition wicket.

    How an inexperienced opposition side can figure out what to do away from home when our experienced bowlers with 900 odd wickets can’t is mystifying – especially when they bowled first!!!

    Wonder if Roland-Jones’ length would have been more threatening or *puts tin hat on* whether his length was too full for the England thinktank and therefore replaced – although I think it more likely that they wanted to give Woakes a run-out in an “easy game” and dropping Broad and Anderson when they have a chance at “easy wickets” is something beyond a junior captain.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Aug 31, 2017 / 11:52 am

      Makes you wonder what All the backroom staff do doesn’t it?

      It’s been a problem for many years with England, but they get away with it particularly at home if the ball is swinging and seaming.

      “Beating the bat” is OK if you are making the batsman play. That increases the chance of getting an edge. Problem is a lot of what England do is not beating the the bat, but….. “avoiding the bat.” The batsman just stands there and watches it go harmlessly by.


  22. dannycricket Aug 31, 2017 / 11:52 am

    The more I think about this loss, the more I think some people should be sacked because of it. The West Indies are probably the worst Test team playing today. Zimbabwe don’t seem to play Tests any more, Ireland & Afghanistan haven’t started yet, and Bangladesh (who are currently ranked 9th) have improved recently and you’d expect the rankings to reflect that soon. England had every advantage going into this game: Playing at home, with a Dukes ball, with a full-strength team and they won the toss. Despite all this, they not only lost but were dominated. West Indies ‘won’ 4 of the 5 days.

    The question would be, who should be held accountable? The obvious choice is always the head coach. I can’t say I’ve been that impressed with Bayliss, most of the improvement in limited overs can be attributed to the selectors actually selecting aggressive batsmen rather than any change in coaching. In Tests, there’s been no obvious improvement at all since his appointment.

    Speaking of coaching, I assume England has a specialist fielding coach who has to be on shakey ground right now. Taking 4 wickets would also suggest the bowling coach needs to find a new job, but Ottis Gibson is one step ahead of me there.

    Then again, the selectors have been living on borrowed time for a while so perhaps they have to go. Running through a dozen candidates to open with Cook doesn’t speak too highly of their skills, without mentioning the revolving doors also in place now at 3 and 5.

    And then if there aren’t young players being developed for them to select, that would move the crosshairs to Andy Flower, the person in charge of England’s elite development. I’ve not noticed a lot of elite development in the past 3 years, or even during his tenure as head coach before that.

    And with so many holes and failures at all levels below him, does that mean Andrew Strauss might deserve the sack? I think the evidence suggests so.

    Of course all of this is wishful thinking. If anyone is going to be sacked, it will be after this winter’s Ashes. But a guy can dream…


    • Quebecer Aug 31, 2017 / 1:44 pm

      Sack Andy Flower after an Ashes series? Pfffff. Preposterous.


      • dannycricket Aug 31, 2017 / 3:39 pm

        You’re right, I have no idea what I was thinking…


    • oreston Aug 31, 2017 / 8:06 pm

      Danny’s suggestions are rather unlikely to be actioned, but if England go down in flames in Australia again there would doubtless need to be a blood sacrifice of some sort to appease the angry gods… eh, I mean someone thrown under a bus and made to take the blame. I can’t think of an obvious choice of scapegoat this time though. Who would be villified and rendered an unperson? Which one of our stars would be denounced in Pravda and given a show trial for the sake of political expedience and senior management ass covering?

      Liked by 1 person

      • dannycricket Aug 31, 2017 / 8:10 pm

        Well Root is an England captain from the wrong kind of family, so there’s a fairly good chance that he’ll be demoted back to the ranks. Other than that, I think Bayliss could be fired, or shifted to only coaching the shorter formats. And the selectors really have last a lot longer than anyone could have predicted considering their results, so I’d expect they’d go.


  23. man in a barrel Aug 31, 2017 / 10:36 pm

    I know everyone ridiculed a certain person for his “that’s the way I play” comment but he had scored an F-load of international runs. Someone like Westley using that line indicates either lack of maturity or confidence in the Essex factor to keep him in the team


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