West Indies vs England: First Test, Day Four

What is there really to say? England lost this Test in the first (abject) innings and the last two days has largely been about how long the West Indies cat intended to torture the English mouse, and then see if the England batsmen could make a better fist of things second time around.

To that extent, today was a modest success, at least in the first half. Certainly Rory Burns put a tick against his name with a fluent innings that ended when he someone missed a fairly innocuous straight ball. Perhaps it was a question of concentration more than anything, just before a break, which would be unfortunate to say the least. Still, beating up on the top scorer is an English pastime that is indulged far too often. His idiosyncratic bat lift distracts from what appears very good weight distribution in his shots. Whether there are too many shots is another matter, and we shall see how he develops.

Certainly he is in a better place than Jennings, who fought hard but again played a horrible waft outside off stump to a ball that he didn’t need to play, and hadn’t got close to. As a result, he played entirely with his hands, with the obvious result. He’s clearly trying his hardest, but it is his judgement rather than his technique that is letting him down most often.

Thereafter there were pretty twenties and thirties, as England fell apart to the newly fearsome spin bowling of Roston Chase, who managed to lure English batsmen into some remarkably careless shots. Teams that find ways to get themselves out like this betray scrambled brains, lack of confidence in their method and uncertainty at how to play. It’s all there, and in spades.

To a degree, the fact the game had long gone made the second innings irrelevant, but both for their own confidence and to make a statement that they really can play, losing with dignity and forcing the opposition to strain for the win can be valuable in a series context. Collapsing to defeat as England ultimately did has the opposite effect.

The problem is that by and large this collection of players is the best England have. Whether it is down to the progressive sidelining of the first class game or the rise of short form cricket, or a combination of both, English batsmen have no sense of permanence. Even if they score runs, they do so quickly – batting out a day seems mentally beyond most of them. Perhaps ironically, the one who looks most capable of doing that is Ben Stokes.

As for the West Indies, they have thoroughly outplayed England, and perhaps it was the ultimate salt in the wound that having expressed surprise at England playing two spinners, their own part-time version demolished England’s batting comprehensively, to record the best figures of his career.

England will doubtless make changes for the second Test – Broad will presumably return, at least Rashid and possibly Moeen too will be dropped, while the question of how long Jennings will be persevered with will come up again.

There’s no reason to assume England will be as poor next time around, but these abject defeats aren’t occasional events, they are fairly regular. Two figure totals are also becoming regular. They can play better, and they probably will. But it doesn’t change much, the brittle nature of England’s game is inherent and endemic. And after Anderson and Broad call it a day, the bowling future looks equally uncertain.

There will be the usual over-reaction to defeat and the gnashing of teeth about what happened. There shouldn’t be. Not because it’s not a terrible defeat, but because the structural issues around English cricket have been there for ages. Bad defeats don’t make that more obvious, good wins like in Sri Lanka don’t make it less. But pretending it’s about one performance is to condemn everyone to the same next time around.

To put it another way, is anyone actually surprised? The ability of the team to play rash shots and collapse is a known feature of the team, muddled selection is another. Granting a part time spinner eight wickets on a pitch not helpful to spin merely another indicator of the position they are in.

In times past, a recognition of the problems in the game and a concerted effort to put them right would be the response. Not any more. Now we have a Chief Executive who channels his inner Iraqi spokesman to insist all is well, and the future is exciting. Many may beg to differ.


27 thoughts on “West Indies vs England: First Test, Day Four

  1. Metatone Jan 26, 2019 / 7:54 pm

    I’m going to be a bit of a grump and say what this is a reminder of is that even though they were at home, Sri Lanka were at a low ebb. Rebuilding and without enough bowling talent (or indeed, settled batsmen) to really be a threat across 5 days.

    England will play better than this, but if the pitches don’t swing, I can see them having a very tough tour.


  2. Mark Jan 26, 2019 / 7:56 pm

    The number of top order players who got starts and didn’t go on is not good. But when you are bowled out for 77 first dig you are up against it.

    No doubt this will be written off by the England cheerleading media just like the Ashes away, and India away. Look over there…..Ashes at home and World Cup coming up are the real issues.


    • metatone Jan 26, 2019 / 7:58 pm

      It’s going to take a dry summer in an Ashes year (so not much swing) for the ECB to start caring about how this team has been put together.


  3. Rooto Jan 26, 2019 / 7:59 pm

    Don’t often get to celebrate a surprise win for a team I choose to support (gritted teeth congrats to Peter on the football, btw…).
    Just to repeat what I put, a moment ago, on the last post, I wouldn’t criticise the England team for what they have said in public, but the media theme of easy victory and putting markers down for the Ashes, must have affected the players’ attitude. Not enough commitment.

    For WI, the only negative is that there were occasional stellar performances, rather than all-round contributions. Nevertheless, the team is holding together much more effectively than recently. Great stuff, and the difference between the captains’ contributions is stark.


  4. Rooto Jan 26, 2019 / 8:00 pm

    Shades of 2009. Flattest wickets of the decade for the rest of the series?

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Jan 27, 2019 / 10:21 am

      And why not?


      • Rooto Jan 27, 2019 / 11:31 am

        Indeed. A proper challenge awaits.


  5. psoans Jan 26, 2019 / 8:18 pm

    I am not surprised at all. West Indies needed two or three out of Chase, Dowrich and Holder to click in the Test and that happened. England needed most of their players to perform which did not happen. The end result was a proper trouncing.


  6. Rooto Jan 26, 2019 / 8:26 pm

    Sorry to copy and paste something I wrote on another blog, but…
    (replying to a thread about media versus team, in terms of whose attitude is worse)
    Nasser, on the radio, just said “Root’s too good to play that shot”. Essentially letting him off because of the quality of his overall play, but totally ignoring that the shit shots contribute to the overall picture. Therefore, a) he’s demonstrably not too good, and b) he’s not, or no longer, as good as you think. Please adjust your opinions to take reality into consideration, media folk!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rohan Jan 26, 2019 / 8:59 pm

    Great win! Although I’m British and used to hang on every England match, it’s great to see the West Indies win with some great performances, regardless of how well England did or did not play! What a fantastic result, brilliant stuff from Barbados……

    Liked by 2 people

  8. oreston Jan 26, 2019 / 9:46 pm

    A rampant West Indies side playing with a little swagger and grinding a hapless England into the dust. I know it’s not that simple, and a comparison of the different eras wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny, but nonetheless today is a great day for Caribbean cricket and for somebody my age of course it evokes feelings of nostalgia for the glory days.

    But seriously… Roston Chase? No disrespect at all to the guy (who’s probably as surprised and justifiably delighted with the fruits of his day’s work as anybody) but what the Hell just happened there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jan 26, 2019 / 9:47 pm

      It was noticeable how there were a lot of Bajans in the ground today. Give them a winning team, and they’ll come.


      • Rohan Jan 26, 2019 / 9:58 pm

        Brilliant stuff, it may be a one off, but it’s sill lovely to see and as Oreston says, evokes feelings of nostalgia. I guess with the Bajans, if you build it, they will come!


      • oreston Jan 26, 2019 / 10:33 pm

        Several Bajans in the team too (and performing very well) which obviously didn’t hurt local crowd attendance. Barbados spearheading a West Indies revival? Well, it’s a lovely thought, anyway…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark Jan 26, 2019 / 9:53 pm

    Sky couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery.

    Said the verdict was going to be at 10pm even after the early end to the test match. Switched over at 9.45 to get ready, and the show had already been going for 15 mins.


  10. Miami Dad's 6 Jan 27, 2019 / 7:54 am

    Now that is out the system, I would direct you to a comment made by Scyld Berry, accusing England of picking a 10 man team. In a team performance so inept, I did wonder who he was singling out.
    Jennings? 31 runs across 2 innings. 4 overs of filth.
    Bairstow? 42 runs across 2 innings. Probably bitter about not keeping wicket.
    Root? 26 runs across 2 innings. Couldn’t captain a side with 7 bowling options to take 20 wickets.
    Stokes? 34 runs across 2 innings at number 5.
    Buttler? 30 runs across 2 innings.
    Ali? A pair. Went at over 4 an over.
    Foakes? 7 runs across 2 innings.
    Curran? 17 runs across 2 innings. 1-123 as a new ball bowler.
    Rashid? 13 runs across 2 innings.
    So. The man to blame out of that lot, according to Berry? It’s the little brown leg spinner, obvs.
    By virtue of not getting out once in test where our horrendous batting lost us the game, Anderson was our best player. He still wasted the new ball in the first innings by bowling too “economically”/outside off stump, and was absolutely ineffectual in the second too. So he’s another who didnt exactly pull.up trees.
    Burns got a 50 but it was an irrelevant 4th dig knock. Given how long he was ignored for, and he is a representative of the County game rather than a nerdy England Lions clone, I sort of want him to be successful. 84 runs when the next highest knock is 34 doesn’t reflect shockingly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • metatone Jan 27, 2019 / 10:24 am

      I note there’s a tendency to give the seamers a free pass “they were tired” but not the spinners on the 2nd innings. Seems… interesting, given the Day 3 pitch wasn’t exactly spin friendly.


      • Miami Dad's 6 Jan 27, 2019 / 1:53 pm

        Apologies for the lack of formatting. I honestly tried to use paragraphs, not sure my phone likes them.


    • Rohan Jan 27, 2019 / 3:18 pm

      Good spot Miami dad, it’s always Rashid isn’t it. Yes he didn’t bowl well, but as you quite rightly point out, his was by no means the only bad performance and certainly not the worst. I know we’ve discussed it on here lots before, but I really abhor his treatment by many of the MSM.

      Nasser kept banging on about it on commentary on Friday saying ‘ooh he’s only bowled 10 overs, that’s not right, something seriously wrong, I’d look into that’ he mentioned it several times, no one else seemed bothered, they were more concerned about the poor performance in general!


  11. BobW Jan 27, 2019 / 8:22 am

    Something that hasn’t been spoken about (unless I’ve missed it) but to me had a bearing on the game via the team selection. Was the apparent mis reading of the wicket. It looked in a right state before play started. England clearly believed the wicket wouldn’t hold up and hence picked two spinners. The West Indies however called it right. The pitch did hold up and batting seemed to get easier as the game went on.
    Let’s hope moving forward that the team management do a better job with the next two tests etc coming up.


    • Mark Jan 27, 2019 / 3:04 pm

      This is a good point Bob. England’s whole preparation including reading the pitch was terrible, I think they just thought it would be a walk in the park. They will never admit it of course.

      Even Nasser got irritated by Joe Roots comments after the game when he said….. ” it’s easy with hindsight. “

      That’s why you are captain Joe, and you get more money.


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