At around 4pm today, England’s Test Summer finished in a rather anticlimactic yet wholly predictable way. The West Indies, unable to repeat their astonishing batting performance at Headingley, were simply blown away by England’s bowlers on what was a pretty good deck, once the overhead gloom gave way to bright sunshine. This of course, is not to take anything away from England’s bowlers who bowled fantastically in both innings, with Stokes in the first innings and Jimmy in the 2nd innings, producing wonderful spells of old fashioned swing bowling. If the English bowlers had one wish, they would probably like to take those overhead conditions, wrap them up and take them on tour with them to Australia!
Much will be made of Jimmy Anderson’s achievements, and rightly so, he has been a brilliant servant for English cricket over the last 14 years or so and to take 500 wickets is an absolutely phenomenal achievement (I remember attending his Test debut at Lords in 2003 and watched him destroy a fairly ordinary Zimbabwe side, yet even back then, you tell he was a proper talent). There will always be a heated discussion around how world class Jimmy actually is, with some in the pro camp pointing towards the number of wickets that he has taken and the fact that he has led the England attack for 10 years plus; however there are also plenty more (mainly Australian is has to be said) that point to his record away from England and feel that he is simply overrated. I’m not going to get into this discussion myself, but what I do know that in English conditions with a duke ball in his hand, he is one of the best English bowlers I have seen in my lifetime. England’s bowling attack will look much less potent when Jimmy finally decides to hang his boots up.
As for the game itself, Broad’s little cameo with the bat on Day 2 probably was the main difference between the two sides. In what was a low scoring game, a lead of 70 was always going to priceless, especially given the overhead conditions last night and England’s potency with the new ball. It was somewhat disappointing to see the West Indies cave in this morning, as the pitch looked pretty flat when the sun came out; however sometimes you also must give credit to the bowlers, with Anderson in particular bowling some absolute jaffas (who knows, after the shenanigans and arguments with Marais Erasmus last night, Anderson might have found the end better suited to his bowling at Lords after all these years.) With the West Indies skittled for a pretty sub par total, all that remained was for England to knock off the 107 runs required without any scares if possible. Despite losing Cook to a decent ball from Bishoo, Stoneman and Westley knocked off the remaining runs in super quick time without any further scares. Whether this was enough for either player to secure his seat on the plane to Australia remains to be seen; my hunch is that Stoneman will go and Westley will not, but that is just my personal opinion, though quite who is out there to replace him is a very moot point.
So with England victorious in both series this summer, there should be a feel good factor for the winter ahead, yet I genuinely don’t see this from anyone but the most ardent one-eyed English fan. The same questions that have haunted England for the past few years have all raised their head this summer. Where can we find a decent opener, number 3 and number 5 from? Will Moeen be able to produce good spells of spin bowling consistently rather than being great one day and atrocious the next? Will there be a series when England don’t get complacent for a game and then get their asses handed to them, normally after a big victory? It certainly feels like we’re in some sort of Groundhog Day movie, as these things have consistently been a thorn in our side for the past 3 years. The selectors have tried round pegs, square pegs even triangular pegs, yet the same issues still remain and looking forward to a winter away with half a batting line up doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. As for the West Indies, there are a few chinks of light amongst the doom and gloom. Shai Hope looks like a proper Test Match player, Brathwaite looks like an obstinate figure at the top of the order and a fast bowling attack of Holder, Gabriel and a fit again Kemar Roach will cause difficulty for most international batting line ups. Yes the West Indies are still miles away from climbing up to the Summit that they once proudly owned during the 70’s & 80’s, but equally they aren’t in the death. Spiral that many of us thought coming into the series. Every cricket fan around the world yearns for a strong West Indian team, perhaps in the years to come, we might finally get to see it.
So with the Test Summer done and the Ashes on the horizon, we naturally move on to a meaningless 5 ODI and 1 T20 series stretching to the end of September. I’m not sure about anyone else, but this doesn’t enthuse me in the slightest. I more than got my fill of the white ball stuff with the champions trophy earlier in the Summer, yet the ECB have coffers to fill and players to break, so we have to pretend that this is anything but worthless. I’m waiting with baited breath for Director comma to revive the Super Series on account of it’s success last time! For those on here that do enjoy the white ball stuff, then I hope the series is what you were looking for, as for me and some of the other editors, then i’m not sure how much we’re going to cover of it, as site views tend to shoot through the floor once the main event is over and none of us are massive white ball fans.
As ever, any comments on this Test or the English summer are welcome below..