West Indies vs England: First Test, Day One

Ah, the start of a series in the Caribbean. If it isn’t quite the highly anticipated series of years past, it does at least have the advantage for an English audience of good scheduling, both in terms of post-work cricket to watch, and in reminding everyone of the sunshine in the depths of January – this is, after all, the prime justification for the broadcast of Death in Paradise.

Given the West Indies side, talented but still recovering from the schisms of the last decade, the pitches that would give them the best chance are those with a bit of life, a bit of pace and plenty of bounce. Certainly their quartet taken as a whole are quicker than England’s, particularly after the decision to drop Stuart Broad. But there is a contradiction between the best interests of the West Indies team, and the related needs of the cricket board and tourist boards, both of whom see dollars of various descriptions dancing in front of them, and have no intention of wasting the opportunity.

Thus it is that to the surprise of precisely no-one, the pitch turned out to be on the slow side, prompting England to select two spinners, while the hosts stuck with four seamers and the locals insisted the pitch was unlikely to turn. That meant for the third time in four Tests Broad was omitted, this time for Sam Curran, and naturally prompting whispers about the senior man’s future.

It is perhaps a little premature to do that, but there seems no doubt at all it is Anderson who is the first choice of the two at this stage of their careers, and probably rightly so. The one thing that has really returned to bite Broad was illustrated by Root’s observation that Curran offered the team more batting depth. Broad’s decline from almost being considered an all rounder to virtual ferret may well now be the factor that goes against him. A reminder that cricketers now have to be multi-faceted if they’re not right on top of their discipline.

As for the day’s play, it is forever the case that unless one side has a genuine shocker of Melbourne 2010 standards, at the end of play it can only be said that England finished well, but the West Indies are in the game.

Anderson remains an exceptional performer, and three late wickets from him and one from Stokes tilted the balance significantly. Yet a total of 300 would be at least adequate enough to provoke sighs of relief from the authorities, and it can’t be said that England are sufficiently reliable with the bat to be sure of matching them. But there must be a sense of a missed opportunity in the home dressing room -five batsmen passed 40, none reached 60, albeit Shimron Hetmyer is still at the crease on 56, and has looked very good getting there.

Second new ball apart, the England seamers looked unthreatening much of the time, Stokes probably being the pick until Anderson’s late burst. But it didn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know, England lack the express pace to overcome a sluggish pitch, they don’t have mystery spin and they are heavily reliant on the exceptional skills of their veteran spearhead, even on a pitch that doesn’t suit him.

In the morning, Hetmyer may well need to try to score rapidly, but the real meat of this game will be seeing what the home team can get out of this pitch in response.


15 thoughts on “West Indies vs England: First Test, Day One

  1. oreston Jan 24, 2019 / 1:24 am

    I didn’t see any of the day’s play, and can’t be arsed to wade through the mainstream media’s accounts of proceedings, so this BOC review is really all I have to go on in terms of informed analysis 🙂
    “The one thing that has really returned to bite Broad was illustrated by Root’s observation that Curran offered the team more batting depth. Broad’s decline from almost being considered an all rounder to virtual ferret may well now be the factor that goes against him.”
    At this early stage in his Test career I think it could reasonably be said that Sam Curran looks like a talented batsman (with potential to cement a berth in the middle order) and a useful change bowler, but getting him to open the bowling on the basis that he scores more runs than Stuart Broad looks like cognitive dissonance to me and possibly isn’t fair to either player.
    Broad’s 32 and has played 124 Tests. Realistically it’s very unlikely that he’d be able to carry on as long as his opening partner, for vanishingly few quick(ish) bowlers have enjoyed such longevity in the top flight as Jimmy. Still, I really hope Broad isn’t in terminal decline quite yet. That would be inopportune.


  2. growltiger Jan 24, 2019 / 9:35 am

    Ironically, the dropping of Broad comes in a period when he seems in good shape and has fixed the insidious problem with his action that made him a “one edge” bowler for a couple of years. Whatever the spokesmen say, the fact is Curran is now a mini-talisman, and the actual choice was between Broad and the second spinner. Personally, I still regard Rashid as a bit of a luxury, despite his knack of diddling out the tail. And this is not (yet) a two-spinner track. So Broad and Curran should probably both have played.


  3. dlpthomas Jan 24, 2019 / 11:54 am

    “it does at least have the advantage for an English audience of good scheduling”
    Maybe, but if your watching from Sydney then the scheduling is a bit shit – game starts at 0100. I had to tape the days play and watch it at a more reasonable hour.

    I know Curran has done well in his test career to date but he still doesn’t look like an opening bowler to me. I would have picked Broad. And speaking of bowlers, Richardson is going to love bowling in England.


    • thelegglance Jan 24, 2019 / 11:57 am

      I think the expectation is still that Curran will be a batting all rounder rather than a bowling one. Things can change I suppose.


      • Mark Jan 24, 2019 / 12:27 pm

        Curran is the ideal player in the Flower/Strauss/Cook model of the last few years. Basically to stack the batting down to number 10, and bet that you will scrape together at least 270/350

        This works against poor opposition or on pitches that offer help to seam and swing bowlers. However, on flat pitches against quality opposition where 450/550 is required it often does not work. Hence England’s appalling record away from home.

        I think Curran should be judged as a bowler, and I like the fact he is fearless and pitches the ball up. I don’t think he will ever waste the new ball as Broad and Anderson sometimes do by banging it in too short. But he is not as potent as them when they get on a roll as Anderson did yesterday.

        Essentially England’s one trick pony approach is to protect the top six batsman who are not reliable enough. Curran, Ali, Rashid, Wokes, even Broad at one time all can bat and make useful runs. Add in the wicketkeeper and you have a safety net.


  4. Miami Dad's Six Jan 24, 2019 / 1:52 pm

    I would probably have pitched Curran against Ali for the number 8 spot, and played 2 of Rashid, Leach and Broad at 9 and 10. Given we’re not in Sri Lanka, Broad would have gotten into my side.
    I can’t say I am that bothered about the selection though, as it isn’t as though we’re leaving out Anderson or Root from the side. With those two, and maybe Stokes, and no matter what XI we form around them, the quality or strength of the side doesn’t really change. Just go roughly with the conditions and whatever hunch you have on the day.
    Leach v Rashid v Broad v Woakes
    Ali v Curran v Woakes
    Buttler v Bairstow v Foakes
    Cook v Jennings v Compton v Burns v Carberry v Robson
    they’re all the same..


  5. dArthez Jan 24, 2019 / 5:43 pm

    49/7 is an excellent reply in the 22nd over – the specialist batsmen must still be there, right?
    Seriously, I wonder why they don’t open the batting with the bowlers. They might fail, but then at least they will have taken a bit of shine off the ball, so that the specialists can cash in. It will also mean that the bowlers will get a bit of a rest after their batting heroics. Unlike the current situation.
    I’ll drop the apostrophe from my name, and see if that will help getting comments automatically approved.


  6. metatone Jan 24, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    I have no words left for the fragility of the top order. Just …..


  7. thebogfather Jan 24, 2019 / 6:57 pm

    Quality bantz from TeamECBSky, ensuring that the only player that BBC correspondent Sir Cookie wont need to heavily criticise is his mate Jimmy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jan 24, 2019 / 9:07 pm

      77 all out plays 95/5 today, and some clown on the BBC is saying “This is a great day of Test cricket.”

      People seriously get paid to spout this crap.


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