As most of you know, I’m at the Test this week, so will do a live blog for at least today and then see how it goes. Much depends on the quality of the mobile signal and if I can steal a WiFi password if it’s poor. Oh and it’s not the BBC. You’ll need to hit refresh.
First up, the weather this morning. On my side of the island at least it’s cloudy and showery but nothing to worry about. Everyone in this hotel is going to the cricket, so breakfast is done and heading over to the ground now.
Joe Denly is due to make his debut today, and here I have to confess I have a real problem with him playing. It’s not that he’s done a thing wrong, it’s not that I don’t like him as a player. It’s that I remember playing against his Dad Nick and seeing Joe playing cricket on the boundary as a kid. Dear God.
0821: Pissing down at present.
0926: Finally got into the ground. I knew it was a bit isolated, but it really is in the middle of nowhere. It’s like holding a Test match in the middle of Dartmoor or something. You’ll never complain about the Rosebowl again. The contrast with the ARG – basically at the end of the High Street in St John’s is stark.
Still, it’s an attractive ground alright, it’s just that it robs any chance of casual local spectators and that’s a real shame.
The weather has improved somewhat though.
0930: second bit of good news. By getting the cheapest tickets around, we appear to be by all the bars. Result!
0938: oh England are batting. Right you are. On the plus side, this could be exciting. Brief, but exciting. Nah, my bet is they’ll do ok this time around.
0954: Delighted to announce that some Brits stood for the national anthem and the rest resolutely stayed seated. Fantastically, contrarily British. I’ll leave you to guess which was me.
1010: Unsurprising, I know, but the crowd is almost entirely English. It’s a work day of course, and anecdotally quite a few Antiguans say they’re planning on coming in the afternoon. Hopefully they do.
Panoramic view of the ground:
1027: Be nice if they would actually show the review for those of us at the ground.
1049: This is going well. Again.
1102: Was told to post at drinks, so I will.
1112: This chap is providing plenty of entertainment taking the piss out of the England team. How good his local tours are, I’ve no idea – but I do admire clever marketing.
1121: Aside from that one going through the top and exploding off a length (best of luck out there, batsmen), the most entertaining thing so far is meeting an American chap called Dan. He’s here on his honeymoon having fallen in love with cricket. He told his new wife there was a Test match on this morning. Apparently she’s ok now she’s had some beer and rum.
1140: Dan’s new wife must think these things called wickets happen every few minutes.
1156: Ben Stokes has the best technique of any England batsman. Discuss.
1203: Lunch the lobster smells amazing.
1215: The lunchtime PA blasting out Earth, Wind and Fire is a lot more fun than Lords. And it’s not even September.
1255: No luck on the Dan front yet by the way. Stokes and Moeen at the crease could be fun. And saying that, you just know what’s going to happen next…
1304: Told ya.
1344: Drinks, and a pretty low key last 40 minutes or so. Probably not such a bad thing for England, but that was very nearly like Test cricket. Remember that?
1423: Pretty decent recovery stand between Foakes and (especially) Moeen. Hard to know what a decent total here is, though England are some way short at present of what you’d think was.
1427: In any potential list of things unlikely to garner too much sympathy, having to move in order to get out of the sun and into the shade is probably fairly high. But it is extremely hot, and one rather nice thing about this ground is a complete absence of anyone greatly caring where you wander to.
Which means I can give a nice new view of the ground:
1439: Just for Trevor
1441: And that’s tea. Something of a recovery, though given there are 39 over yet to be bowled in the final session, we’re going to be very, very short.
Moeen though. Enigmatic doesn’t begin to cover it with him, he fails repeatedly, but when he’s good there are very few better players to watch.
1520: not sure if that stopped on him or if it was just a poor shot. Either way, the end is probably nigh. So here’s some video, which won’t turn up the right way. Sigh.
1539: Is it bad to be really, really looking forward to watching Stuart Broad bat on this?
1553: this could be a very interesting last couple of hours or so, just to see if England get anything out of the pitch or not. If not, this could get very painful.
1623: Concerning the above, there are definite twinges.
1643: This has not been the most threatening of opening spells from these two. And it’s mostly being played on the back foot.
1703: Innocuous stuff really.
1741: The West Indies batted really well in that final session, and while England might claim that they didn’t have much luck, nor did they really create much in the way of chances. Unless they have a great morning tomorrow they’ll again be in serious trouble. But that is for then.
From a spectator perspective, the isolation of the ground is a problem, but the experience when there is simply delightful. No one particularly cares where you wander, meaning the ground is there to explore and get different perspectives. The food stalls are individual, cheap and put the horrific money pits at English grounds to shame.
It’s now back to the hotel, relax, have dinner and do it all again in the morning. See you then.
Whitstable!! Don’t be a grouch and enjoy the rum punch.
Whitstable indeed! Morning Richard!
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I’m gonna be a blog spoilsport and recommend, for your sake, that you don’t fully liveblog it. Maybe a quick report at the drinks breaks, if you can be bothered. Otherwise, you’ve gone to Antigua (ruddy Antigua ffs!) to type on your phone. It’s entirely up to you, mind..!
PS I will read whatever you put out either way
It ain’t going to be a commentary, don’t worry about that.
Now I feel disappointed that it isn’t a ball by ball.
Proving the adage that some people are never happy.
Apparently we’ve never won in Antigua…as ‘arrogant Englishman’ as it might sound, surely that is under threat here, in spite of Barbados?
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No Leach. Shame
The trouble with the game starting at 0100 local time is that I have trouble keeping track of when the game starts. I thought it was tomorrow morning – I’d have missed the days play if not for you. On the other hand, if it’s another shit day I know who to blame.
Well thank God I didn’t miss this start.
Is Joseph as much a tearaway as Cricinfo makes it appear? (Question for anyone with visuals!)
Ah, 3 down for not a lot… TeamECBSky at their most predictable!
Loving this blogpost tho’ Chris, great pics to add to my radio listening,and bringing a little warmth to chilly ol’ UK
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Bairstow going to try and bop his way to success.
Can’t say I blame him.
Suspect he feels sooner or later he’ll get one with his name on it.
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That and/or he doesn’t trust his technique to miss a straight one.
He’s best when playing positively. He’s not a cow corner slogger, but playing his shots through the V and clambering into anything short is where his game is strongest. He probably sounds like an ideal number 5 or 6.
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Ah 30 odd for 3 becomes 50 odd for 4, so reassuringly England. Tho’ Buttler at 5 was a change that needed to be made (opening in 3rd test anyone?)
Chris, you must get an interview to blog with Dan’s wife (and Dan) 🙂
Will try and find him!
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Since you brought up Ben Stokes’ technique, do you think he is a better batsman than KP?
Should he bat in the same position as KP, at 4? (Root can drop down to 5 or move up to 1)
Batting is about far more than technique, otherwise Ramprakash would have been a Test great. But I’d say purely in terms of technique, Stokes is very, very good. But as good a batsman? Nah, not even close.
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Interesting lunch interview with ‘Bumble’ on Talksport2 – he rates Sobers, Richards(V) and Lara as his favourite batsmen to watch, followed by the South African born chap who must not be named..
24 overs in the first session!
Another six overs and it could’ve been 88-6… gotta make sure this Test lasts into day 4… #CashCowards
I’d be more interested in your technique of lobster demolishing than that of the ‘new’ Stokes batting ‘proper’ with little influence on the game, not that I’m admonishing….
Its so hard to choose!
Indulge us on both!
Is this bad batting or is the pitch a mine field? Not able to see any play live at the moment.
Some balls are doing a LOT. Root didn’t have a prayer with his.
Thanks, so 200 may be a good score. I’m surprised the WI have produced a pitch like this. It makes it a lottery.
Seems the administrators don’t want 5 day tests anymore, They need to sell all the lobster in the first three days. By the way, can you imagine what price Lords would charge for lobster?
In the Canadian Maritime provinces, lobster is such a staple food you can get McLobster.
I’m not joking!
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Bloody decadent tourism tantaliser and decapod tempter…
I can believe it. In 18th century England Oysters were the food of the working class if you lived along the Thames, and by the sea.
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In true deference to the elite lobster crowd, tomorrow I shall be cooking salt fish with ackee and imbibing a dribble or five of rum
Stokes goes, so, more importantly, id not Dan’s new wife, can you find his old one, or at least the local advertising Eng abuser from the start of the day – hurry, you may not have much time!
“Nah, my bet is they’ll do ok this time around.”
Had you already started on the rum when you wrote that?
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No point playing safe!
I’m guessing by the lack of pics that Chris is fully ensconsed in the rum ba ba bar…..
re pic…looks a lil bit bowling dry…
As a ‘cricket on the radio lover’, I’m currently in true joy… 2pm-9.30pm talksport2 for WIvEng (and their coverage has been excellent – well above recent years TMS) then 11pm -6.30am Aus vSriL, followed by BBL 9.30am-1.00pm on 5liveXtra #NoSleepTilHammersmith
The BBC have destroyed their reputation as a sports broadcaster in the last few years in my view. It’s so smug. Who would have thought you would prefer another broadcaster to what the BBC is putting out?
The old TMS brigade will be spinning in their graves.
Talksport was better in the old days (i.e the 1st test). Why? Because they’ve brought in Mark Nicholas for this one.
Without bothering to check, but have England actually won a Test in the last three years after losing the toss, other than the one against Pakistan?
So seeing that Moeen was not dropped, he scored some runs, when pretty much no one else could be bothered. This will only ensure that England will remain allergic to picking a specialist spinner (Leach) in the foreseeable future.
It is almost as if management are hell-bent on not improving the Test side. But I suppose, one can argue that is true for a lot of man-agers.
This is why Moeen would haveto fail very badly for many tests to ever get dropped. England’s top order is so brittle that the management want all rounders as insurance.
The lower order bailing out the top six is England’s standard policy plan. And to be fair it’s got them out of jail quite a bit in the last few years. Without it Englands test record would be abysmal.
I don’t know, I’m leaning towards the idea that you’d want as many allrounders in the team even if you had a functioning batting lineup.
Someone (and I forget who, so I can’t give credit) recently said that, even though allrounders are most highly prized in the shorter formats, their value is highest in Tests. Most runs in T20s and 50 overs games are scored by the top 6, the specialist batsmen, usually leaving the allrounders just a few overs (if that) to make an impact with the bat. Unless there’s an early collapse, there’s no greater value in one than a slogging bowler. In Tests, they can score essentially as many runs as they are able.
To put it another way, can you imagine how difficult to beat England would be if they had their 2011 batting lineup (when England’s top 5 averaged 62.76) and their current bowling lineup with Stokes, Woakes, Curran and Moeen? Those 4 players would, based on their career Test averages, add about 120 runs per innings. They’d regularly post scores of 500+ and, in English conditions at least, be more than good enough at bowling to handle any team.
Fair points. Yes, Englands top six of 2011 were far more prolific. But I would take Swann (at his best) over Moeen any day of the week. And in fairness Swann could bat a bit as well.
But he was a specialist spinner.
When you check the stats for 2011, realize that numbers 7 through 11 averaged 50+ collectively (helped by a few Prior tons) as well. Prior averaged nearly 64, Bresnan averaged 63, and even Broad averaged 40. Jimmy was not even dismissed once in the entire year when he batted in the tail (he was dismissed at least against Australia, but he was a nightwatchman then). Finn, the worst of the lot (if we discount Trott batting once in the lower order due to injury) contributed 19 runs for one dismissal.
So the 2011 bowlers’ batting performance was even better than the current allrounders career statistics.
In the 2011 side at most one player of the current lot would be picked to play a Flintoff like role (at 6, England had a bit of a struggle to replace Collingwood). Two if you are generous and remove Bresnan for being a bit ineffective with the ball. And honestly I don’t think that Curran as he is now, would have been more effective than Bresnan in 2011.
That collective average for the tail dropped to 20.10 in the year 2012. Mind you the same batting unit which averaged 60+ in 2011, averaged 37.92 in 2012 (top 5 only). Might have something to do with facing better attacks (Pakistan in UAE, South Africa in England), than they faced in 2011 (Sri Lanka and India in the English summer).
So, based on the 2012 figures, I see a gain of about 60 runs per innings. Which helps, of course, but is not out of this world. And I do not see a massive improvement of bowling fortunes. Moeen is no Swann or Panesar for one, and I’d pick Swann over Moeen, unless the wicket is absolutely guaranteed to take no spin whatsoever. Stokes is definitely an improvement over Bresnan, but I would struggle to make that case for Curran, and even Woakes (due to generally being completely innocuous outside of England).
Panesar for instance averaged 26 in 2012, far better than Moeen’s career average of 37). Among the frontline bowlers England picked in 2012, the worst bowling average was 31.70 by Broad. Of course Bresnan did worse with the ball, but was that not a case of the guy being picked because he could bat? And is that not the same reason that Moeen keeps getting picked?
The problem is that the differentials are pretty much marginally positive for Stokes, and Curran, and negative for Woakes and Moeen. Pretty much, what they contribute with the bat, is what they contribute with the ball. So for every game defining contribution, they go the next two series without contributing much (eg. Stokes barely averages 30 with the bat, despite having made a double ton) Now, it is hard to figure in, what the effect would be of shorter spells for Jimmy and Broad. It would help, but the problem is if you have 7 bowling options, you have to rotate the bowlers well too.
A pre-injury Botham of course would be a shoe-in.
No one wants to say it but Broad and Anderson were just not bowling fast enough to get the best out of that pitch. They are too old.
Mmm, is there much difference to how they’ve been for a few years? That they’re still be best bowlers we have is a bit of an indictment though.
Stokes bowled too wide. Curran looked innocuous. Maybe Broad and Anderson were not quite hitting the right lengths but they were not getting anything like the bounce or movement of Gabriel and Roach.
Agreed. But I would posit that it ought not be their role to do so, that they are exceptional bowlers on pitches that suit them, and it’s not their fault the cupboard is largely bare when it comes to having a balanced attack.