England vs. West Indies, 3rd Test – Preview

After the Test match at Edgbaston, the last thing that I thought I would be writing about would be around a series decider at Lords; however this is exactly what we have got in store for us, thanks to a mixture of a gutsy and skillful fourth innings batting performance from the West Indies and a pretty woeful performance with the ball from England throughout the last Test. It would have been extremely churlish to undermine the West Indian performance at Headlingley, especially after all the criticism that they have faced over the past couple of years and I thought TLG amongst others were rightful in their focus on congratulating the West Indian team rather than focus on England’s shortcomings in the immediate aftermath of the last Test. That being said, I have been quite surprised that there hasn’t been some sort of backlash against an England team that consistently takes 1 step forward and then 1 step back against both good quality opposition and those that they should really steamroll (especially when you take into account the pure cricketing resources that the English team has access to).

Now I must admit that I watched very little of the last Test (life and family got in the way of that) and as a result my thoughts must be tempered on that proviso, however it feels I could be writing a review of any series that England have been involved with over the past few years, obviously apart from the last Indian series when we were quite simply blown away. It’s true that England on their day have a decent batting line up – Cook is a good international cricketer with a ton of runs behind him, Root is obviously world class and we have a number of high quality all-rounders such as Stokes, Moeen, Bairstow and Woakes. In terms of the bowling, we have 2 vastly experienced fast bowlers with over 800 wickets and 200 appearances between them and a spinner that bowls wicket taking deliveries; yet after every series that I end up reviewing, we seem to have the same gaps and weaknesses as before and a complete inability to put our ‘A game’ together on a regular basis. We still don’t have a settled opener, a number 3, a number 5 and a consistent spin bowler that will challenge the best teams and comfortably beat the poorer teams, which the West Indies are, in all fairness. I didn’t watch the last day at Headingley, but I understand that Moeen was toothless, Woakes looked half fit and Anderson & Broad decided that pitching the ball up was a luxury option, this combined with what was a pretty headless first innings performance from our batsmen (Ben Stokes aside) meant that we got we deserved. Another defeat. And guess what if we do the same at Lords, we could well lose again.

So much for the mediocre side coming across to get a hammering from a superior side in both batting and bowling departments! England have shown that they can look just as mediocre and clueless as any other side when they don’t decide to turn up or conditions aren’t in their favour. Now Australia are hardly pulling up trees at the moment, but in their home conditions and with an English batting line up that is at best inconsistent and at worst is decidedly average, then I must admit I have some well entrenched fears when it comes to the Ashes tour this winter.

Naturally though, there is still one game to go in this series and England better have their mind on the West Indies rather than the upcoming winter, as otherwise an embarrassing blip could turn into a pretty horrific series loss with plenty of finger pointing and ramifications as a result. It wouldn’t surprise me if England kept with the same XI despite the fact that Woakes looked very short of match practice, as a change of heart and a tip towards Roland-Jones would surely confirm that they made a mistake in their selection for Headingley (which they did). There are also a number of English batsmen either drinking in the last chance saloon (Westley) or desperately trying to secure their plane ticket for the winter escapades (Stoneman, Malan). Now a big score doesn’t guarantee that these players will score big runs in Australia; however another failure against what is nothing more than a pop gun attack by international standards could be terminal for certain individuals’ international ambitions.

As for the West Indies, it’s almost like tossing a coin as to which team will turn up, the one that fought so excellently at Headingley or the one that so meekly collapsed at Edgbaston. There may be a skills gap between the two sides, but it was heartening to see a young man in Shai Hope harnessing his raw talents and producing the two innings of his career so far to guide the West Indians to victory. There were also key contributions from Brathwaite, Holder and Gabriel alongside Shai Hope in this Test victory which shows that on any given day, The West Indies can rally and that it might not be all doom and gloom in the future for our Caribbean friends. As TLG wrote in his last piece, the romance of the underdog winning in Test Cricket might be in short supply these days but it is great when it does happen, even at the expense of England. Now it may be too much for the West Indies to replicate this level of performance at Lords, but if they do and England are slightly off the boil, then there is absolutely an opportunity for them to really upset the apple cart. From Colin Grave’s point of view, that ‘mediocre’ comment that he made a couple of years must be seriously wrangling with him now and still could yet come back and bite him on the arse! See there is a silver lining in every cloud.

Oh and a final thought, I have noticed that Starsports have ‘won’ the right to pay over $2.5 billion dollars to host the TV rights to the whiter than white IPL for the next 5 years, with the equivalent of every ball during the event costing around £22,500 pounds per televised delivery. Obviously from this we can see why India were so desperate to screw over the associates and other smaller international nations for an extra $100 million slice of the international revenue rights. I’m waiting for the ‘BCCI crowdfunder’ campaign to kick off in earnest so we can all help those poor little mites at the BCCI survive on a day to day basis. As ever, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the fans are the ones who end up paying for it out of their own pocket. Plus ca change.

Anyway, as ever comments on the game below and let’s hope the rain stays away from Lords over the next few days (unless it involves the flooding of the members pavilion):

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31 thoughts on “England vs. West Indies, 3rd Test – Preview

  1. metatone September 5, 2017 / 6:59 pm

    Thoughts:

    1) England basically scored enough runs at Headingley, despite the weaknesses in the order. When a total of that size is chased down in the 4th innings on a reasonable pitch, you have to look at the bowling IMO. (And IMO, esp. the senior bowlers.)

    2) Lords could be a rough ride for WI as the weather looks like doing as much as you could reasonably expect to create good conditions for Broad & Anderson.

    3) All that said, massive agreement from me that this is the ongoing story of England in recent times. One step forward, one step back.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sean B September 5, 2017 / 7:04 pm

      Yep can’t disagree with any of that. Saw very little of the last Test and nothing of the 4th innings, so going on 2nd hand information about the performance of the bowlers in the 2nd innings…

      Like

  2. oreston September 5, 2017 / 11:58 pm

    The Londinium weather forecast doesn’t look very good over the next several days. Yes the conditions could assist England’s bowlers, but if significant time is lost then a drawn series is a distinct possibility.

    Whatever happens, something tells me the West Indies will fight – why would they not having acheived such an upset last time out?Their bowling attack is a shadow of a shadow of what they had when I was a nipper but still, I think calling it “pop gun”after their performance at Headingly might be a tiny bit harsh (however appropriate it was at Edgbaston). Shannon Gabriel definitely made some difference and even Holder was fairly effective. If anything, England’s bowling on the final day was the less effective.

    Like

  3. SimonH September 6, 2017 / 8:33 am

    Back-to-back chalk-and-cheese centuries for David Warner in Bangladesh. Following his shot-a-ball knock last time, Warner’s made his slowest hundred by over 50 balls (209 beating the 154 he took against India in 2014) and hit only 5 boundaries. He had some culpability in Handscomb’s run out but it’s been superb otherwise. Give your loose cannon talent some extra responsibility and he responds – who’da thunk it? (Maybe they should make Maxwell vice-vice captain?)

    I’ve given Bangladesh some flak over their pitches so it’s only fair to say this has turned into a good batting strip. Lyon’s first innings’ wickets were mainly down to a bit of early damp plus good bowling and some not terribly good batting.

    This could develop into a very good match if they have some luck with the weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH September 6, 2017 / 11:50 am

      Very good fightback by Bangladesh (especially Mustafizar and Mehdi) against Australia’s vulnerable lower middle order left the match very evenly poised.

      Like

  4. "IronBalls" McGinty September 6, 2017 / 9:05 am

    It’s bloody complacency is what it is! Happens every time! Win the first test and the rest is a walk in the park. Despite their protestations about not being complacent what did they do? Ditch the best bowler from the first test, bring in Woakes to give him a run out, see how he gets on..after all, just a bunch of club cricketers in front of us eh?
    Convinced their “superiority” would carry them through, the first innings batting was woeful, against an attack, that can only be described as “fair”
    Their lack of respect for the opponents in front of them, makes this England team hard to like. I’m hoping the Windies come to Lords with plenty of fight in them, but, with poor weather forecast this test could have draw written all over it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Andy September 6, 2017 / 9:56 am

    The problem for Woakes (and you are right that he didn’t look match fit), is that the ECB in all their wisdom decided to move teh County Championship to the start and end of the season – therefore players don’t have the chance to get ‘long format’ fit. Bowl all you want in t20 or nets, but nothing recreates the time on teh field.

    Nail & Head above – remove someone who looked decent (TRJ) to give Woakes a run and rehabilitation. At least Woakes has not broken down again (that I’ve heard)

    Like

  6. Miami Dad's Six September 6, 2017 / 11:17 am

    I note next year’s schedule was released yesterday. Pakistan, who drew 2-2 in an excellent series of cricket last time they were here – that had many crying about the lack of 5th Test, have been awarded 2 Tests in May and early June.

    India, limp and wet abroad, get 5.

    More infuriating, is a wanky 5 match ODI series against Australia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Quebecer September 6, 2017 / 5:28 pm

      My question is why Pakistan at all? Wouldn’t cricket be better served by the Banglas getting those tests?

      Liked by 2 people

    • oreston September 6, 2017 / 5:33 pm

      I guess we might know if he manages to turn out for Warks. against Essex next week. Always the poor bloody counties that have to put Humpty back together again after the ECB have pushed him off a wall…

      Like

    • dannycricket September 6, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      I have to say, if his injury hadn’t recurred I’d expect him to be playing in the championship since he wasn’t selected for tomorrow. That might suggest his condition is worse than reported. Or the ECB screwed up, which has to be at least as likely.

      Like

    • man in a barrel September 6, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      The way that Woakes’s speed dropped during the final day… How much do the medical team get paid?

      Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance September 7, 2017 / 10:54 am

      They’ve managed the worst of all worlds. I can sort of understand the complacency that led them to give Woakes a run out in the last Test, but having done so, to drop him now when he’s bound to have been rusty after 2 months out is ludicrous. They shouldn’t have dropped TRJ, but having done so, to now dump Woakes for not being fully match ready is preposterous.

      Like

      • oreston September 7, 2017 / 6:09 pm

        Being rusty is one thing, being asked to bowl in a Test while still carrying a niggle and consequently exacerbating it back into a full-blown injury would be quite another. For his sake I hope it’s the former but I can’t help but wonder what the actual situation is.

        Like

  7. Mark September 6, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    Just listening to 5 live Tuffers and Vaughn.

    They are all slapping themselves on the back, and congratulating themselves for a window being created to allow England players to be able to go and play IPL.

    They are all geniuses now, and it’s common sense apparently for players to be allowed to go and earn all this dosh. Funny how they didn’t take this view when KP wanted to go. Then it was all about being selfish and aloof..

    They rewrite history very well these days.

    Like

    • man in a barrel September 6, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      Wouldn’t it be nice if an old pro could walk up to Westley and suggest he play in the V for the first hour, dab singles, hit the short ones, but no cover drives till after lunch

      Like

    • Cricketjon September 7, 2017 / 9:21 am

      In addition to your points Mark it was a tournament that Sky would not even acknowledge on air…that is of course until they had secured the rights

      Like

      • thelegglance September 7, 2017 / 10:46 am

        That’s Sky for you. My favourite example of that was back in 2003 when they didn’t even acknowledge on Sky Sports News (ITV had naturally buggered off 2 minutes after the presentation) that the England rugby team had just won the World Cup.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. thebogfather September 7, 2017 / 5:56 am

    Be ready for plenty of ECBXI bowling dry… they’ve even doctored the pitch with a fairy ring marker to help Anderson and Broad get their range….

    Liked by 2 people

    • d'Arthez September 7, 2017 / 12:41 pm

      Yeah, West Indies are such a strong ODI side, that they decided to forego competing with the plebs at the Champions Trophy, presumably.

      Like

      • oreston September 7, 2017 / 6:13 pm

        Depending on which eleven players they can get onto the pitch they have a bit of form at T20 though. Just ask Ben Stokes….

        Like

  9. SimonH September 7, 2017 / 9:42 am

    A six-for for Nathan Lyon has left Australia needing just 86. Lyon’s become only the second Australian after Clarrie Grimmett to take three consecutive six-fors (only 9 bowlers ever have managed this) and has gone fourth on the list of all-time visiting wicket-takers in Asia (behind Warne, Vettori and Steyn).

    Nice to see Australia are going to play some ODIs and T20s… in India. Pass the sick bag.

    Like

    • SimonH September 7, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Australia win by 7 wickets (Bangladesh needed another fifty runs plus Mehdi couldn’t bowl because of a thumb injury). It’s Australia’s Test third win in Asia in the last ten years (they had one in India and one in SL).

      The Bangladesh commentator was having a heart-felt diatribe about their lack of games, both the lack of a series decider here and more generally. Mushfiqar made his debut a year before Cook and has played one-third of his games.

      As for the Ashes, Warner and Lyon have been the standout performers and go into the series presumably full of confidence. Handscomb cemented his place here. Maxwell’s probably done enough to be selected initially but won’t have silenced the doubters. Khawaja will probably return and everyone drop a place in the order. Cummins bowled very well here and Starc is expected to recover so the main bowling doubt is Hazlewood with rib injuries notoriously slow to heal. Most of the discussion is going to revolve around their keeper.

      That’s if nobody gets injured playing eight whire-ball games in India….

      Like

      • SimonH September 7, 2017 / 11:30 am

        And the board/player dispute has been formally resolved:

        http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/20615177/full-mou-agreed-ca-eyes-t20-focus

        It looks like the players have got what they wanted on the revenue front (although someone sharper than me might be able to spot some devil in the details) but there’s this delight:

        “[developing] the leading talent pathway with a paradigm shift in alignment to the T20 format”.

        In other words, leading Australian players are going to be playing a lot more T20.

        There’s also:

        “”Increase revenue from international markets through innovative content, new partnerships and by reaching more of the global cricket family”.

        Make that more T20 in India (and elsewhere).

        And, if you think the management-speak can’t get any worse, try reading the section on “storytelling”….

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark September 7, 2017 / 12:09 pm

          “Reaching more of the goal cricket family.”

          F*** off. Just f*** off now.

          There is no such thing as a corporate family. I think it was a senior Nazi officer who said…..”when I hear the word culture I want to reach for my revolver.”

          When I hear any organisation talk about the cricket family or the (insert name of bank, Hollywood studio etc etc) family… I want to reach for my crossbow.

          Families look after each other in tough times. International corporate bodies do not. You don’t try to fleece you family for every penny they have. Not unless you are insane or a serial killer.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. northernlight71 September 7, 2017 / 10:14 am

    Cook’s just dropped another slip catch.
    Maybe his eyes are going?
    It would be a shame if he didn’t rack up the 20,000,000 runs his doe-eyed fans are so desperate for him to achieve, wouldn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. SteveT September 7, 2017 / 11:08 am

    Both Lovejoy and FICJAM on the commentary roster for this match. Oh what joy.

    Like

  12. SteveT September 7, 2017 / 12:55 pm

    Hope was ‘squared up like a can of beans’ and has ‘rhythm in his backlift’. Welcome to planet FICJAM

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston September 7, 2017 / 2:40 pm

      At least no one could accuse him of plagiarising linguistic nuggets such as those.

      Like

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