It was Milan (Inter v Chievo – finished 0-0). I got a call from London. Harmison has just bowled the West Indies out for 47. Incredible. I thought of that day at around 7pm UK time today.
It was in my office back in 2005. Old Trafford and the thrilling denouement. Simon Jones hooping that ball back into Michael Clarke who left well alone, or so he thought. I thought of him around 7pm today.
There’s not a lot to have got England fans excited on this tour, but either side of tea, Mark Wood’s eight overs (probably one too many) gave England a real shot of adrenaline. Moeen Ali had just taken the wickets of the two openers – Brathwaite with a pretty ordinary cow shot, being taken in the deep, and John Campbell LBW for another 40 score. England had the openers gone after another 50 stand, and the ball was handed to Mark Wood.
BOOM! Hope plays an uncontrolled drive to a wide-ish, but quick, delivery and Burns snaffled it in the gully.
KAPOW! Next ball, Chase gets a shortish one, fends at it, and Burns takes a better catch to send him on his way for a golden
WALLOP! Last ball before tea, and Hetmeyer, who was starting to threaten square leg umpire with his trigger movement, nicked a snorter to Root at first slip, who took it at the second attempt.
57 for no loss became 74 for 5. West Indies can collapse too.
It is important to note where the game started today and where it ended up. England started the day four down, and with Stokes and Buttler unbeaten in their sixties. Buttler did not add to his score before falling, bowled through the gate by Gabriel. Stokes, who was a bit fortunate with his pulling yesterday, smashed an attempted one straight up in the air and Dowrich took a great catch running to backward square leg. While disappointed neither went on to three figures, it was still a really good 79. Stokes will make worse, less important (* with caveat below), centuries.
But this was the start of the subsidence. The West Indies quicks seemed more intense than yesterday and they never gave England an inch. Bairstow made 2 in 33 balls before he was bowled again. Now here’s a point I want to make. Yesterday I got a little bit sick and tired of the reaction to Keaton Jennings’ innings. “Gruesome” was one opinion. The vitriol poured on him by Bob Willis (and others) last night was a little uncalled for. Jennings is utterly out of nick. The same pundits were telling us, against more than decent bowling against the Duke ball last summer that he was a bit of a repaired man. Now he’s been thrown under the bus. Root is in desperate form too. And yes, there’s a massive difference between their records. The technical problems for Jennings are “fatal flaws” as decreed by the pundit class. Those problems for Root are because he needs rhythm in his batting – and he’s getting more than his fair share of unplayable deliveries. It’s a subliminal message and it applies today to Bairstow. There is no comment on the 33 balls of struggle. No-one called the innings gruesome, or painful to watch, among the punditerati. It was good West Indian bowling. Yes, there’s observations about him being bowled a lot, but they also say he’s our second best batsman. Years of watching the media undermine those that aren’t the chosen ones (anyone remember Bell’s eyes going? anyone remember KP’s fatal flaws against left arm spin?), I’m on tenterhooks with this lot.
Anyway, the tail did not resist for any time and England were bowled out 25 minutes before lunch for 277. Another collapse. Another sense of foreboding. Kemar Roach taking another four wickets, with the rest shared equally between the other three seamers. Their bowling has been superb, no questions about it, but before we bring out the bunting, we need to see this perform outside of West Indies, or at home against slightly less flaky batting line-ups than this.
After Wood’s three wicket salvo, he got a fourth after tea, when Bravo nicked to first slip. Then Paul ran past one from Moeen and was stumped, and there were visions of a 160 lead. However the redoubtable Dowrich and the obdurate Roach (who I seem to recall saved a test against us 10 years ago) put on 41 for the 8th wicket before Dowrich was pinned LBW by Broad, on review, with Broad being correct. Sometimes wonders will never cease. (And I’m writing this in advance of the end of the day’s play, and Stuart Broad has just taken an amazing catch to dismiss Joseph – a real “look what I’ve found”. Wonders will never cease).
Wood came back, and in his first over he castled Shannon Gabriel to finish with figures of 5 for 41, a career best, and a shot in the arm for England supporters. It was genuinely lovely to see, even for this cold-hearted scribe. But, as usual, let me be the bucket of cold water. He averages a touch under 37 (I think it was over 39 at the start of this innings) for a reason. He’s also a bit, shall we say, injury prone. So I recall Harmison because of the Durham links, and I recall Simon Jones for the injuries. Also, this is the sort of spell that will live with him for a while – lovely for now, brought up when he doesn’t deliver. But for now, let’s love it.
With the West Indies bowled out for 154, and England holding a 123 lead, they set about adding to it. Jennings coming out under a cloud, Burns not on the hot seat because Jennings is. The ball started to keep a little low – it has been a two-paced wicket. The two openers dug in, played sensibly, with little alarm (Burns edging one just short of slip in the last over had a little flutter). England finished the day on 19 for 0. Jennings surviving 40 balls (and yes, I will say well played Keaton. That took resolve). England are 142 ahead.
England are obviously well ahead in this game. The 277 first innings does look competitive with the benefit of seeing West Indies bat, and England face the task of building the lead over 250, probably 300, to make the game pretty much theirs. It was a day when England had pace – up to 95 mph pace. It may only be one day, but it was an enjoyable one. After all, maybe we should just remember that. It’s been good to watch.
We should remember, fondly, and with some regret, the 8 overs that passed away without acknowledgement today. England bowled 47.2 overs in 4 hours. Even giving leeway for 3 minutes per dismissal (one was at the interval – and I think it is 2 minutes allowed), 10 minutes for injury/helmet replacement, another 10 minutes for drinks, and 10 minutes for reviews, we are nowhere near 15 per. I wonder what will happen to Joe Root. This wasn’t even close. Moeen bowled 15 overs. Let’s see if Holder’s treatment is replicated.
Comments on Day 3 below….
(*This is a dead rubber – so the West Indies drop off in performance / concentration could be explained by this. I have to point it out)
Couldn’t watch it, but great to read about Mark Wood, lovely stuff. Let’s hope he can stay fit. He hasn’t got that easy run up and languid delivery that Harmison had unfortunately (guess the height helped there as well!)……95mph, pace works!
Not sure you’ve seen Mark Wood’s new action, but it has a much longer run up and does look a lot smoother. I mean, the old one was as rough as a badger’s arse, so we aren’t saying he’s Michael Holding. It does seem to give him some rhythm.
Pleased for Wood.
On his last recall in New Zealand, I noted that he seems to gain 2mph with every Test he doesnt play.
I had my fears that (as in NZ) he’d be given the dreary label of “The Enforcer” and the directive to bang it halfway down the wicket and pull angry faces. Thankfully that was not the case here.
Bairstow looked painful out there with the bat. I suspect the last six months (he’s keeping, no he’s not, yes he is with a broken finger, now he’s sulking, now he’s injured playing football, now he’s not keeper, now he’s three, now he’s right back where he was) might have had an effect on him. I have to confess, his behaviour during this period has not endeared him to me, whereas about 18 months ago he was my fave player in the side….
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You know Root will not be dropped for a game for slow overs. That doesn’t happen to the big three. Most unfair but let’s just pretend it doesn’t happen.
In a way, being fair to him (which I hate) I have to hand it to Ed Smith.
His philosophy of “to win in Sri Lanka, you need to put some faith in your spinners” and “actually, selecting pace is good on WI pitches” might well be just what I usually demand.
Of course, the fear with Wood is injury – and Olly Stone (who also has some nip) got a stress fracture (or something) – so we’re back to the County Cricket issue…
It was good to listen to Wood at high pace. I just think that this innings will get him a place in the side when he’s not as 100% fit as he was yesterday.
He was so much faster and destructive than the last time we saw him, that I could only conclude that his form is very fitness dependant. We know that England’s medical team aren’t the best at judging who should be resting (Broad, Ali, Bresnan before them), and we’ll see this summer if the speed gun shows history repeating itself.
To be the grump – England showing fine form in a dead rubber.
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Couldn’t resist replying to the latest love-in pic…
If I was Talksport and had paid for the broadcasting rights for these Test matches I’d be getting a bit pissed off with these gate crashers.
They are swanning about as if they have paid for the rights. At what point does so called expert analysis mission creep into commentary?
Great, perhaps Cook can tell us all what the lottery numbers will be this week then?
Cook was just asked a question about England’s failure on 5 live by Shinny toy, and his reply was…… “You’d have to ask the players.”
This is punditry of a special standard. The bleeding bloody obvious.
Talksport have employed Nasser, who has just told us that Joe Root is one of the greatest cricketers ever to play for England.
That was after informing us seriously that the difference between 98 and 100 was so much more than just 2 runs. Just for those listeners who haven’t come across cricket before.
What great analysis. The man should be knighted.
This is the ultimate dead rubber hundred. It had to be made but still. Why the hyperbole for this?
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One of those centuries where one of the opposition’s bowlers is injured and the captain’s not even allowed to play…..
Yes, as you say, it still has to be made but really…the absence of context or analysis from the superfans in the media isn’t getting any better anytime soon, is it?
You still have to make it. Just like Cook at Melbourne. Just like KP in the west indies back in 2009.
Nothing brings out the idiocy in England cricket pundits more than dead rubbers.
It’s amazing how shit England have been in the last few years because they have had so many of the “greatest England players EVER ” in one team.
What will cheese me off is if the dead rubber part is ignored but it bring used to have a pop at people pointing it out. It’s not slagging Root off at all. Just as the 244 wasn’t slagging Cook off.
Root needed the ton as he was fighting his technique. Well batted.
Unfortunately, actually providing nuance and context to scores, such as this one for Root, will only result in the boorish #RootMaths coming into play. I can’t be that difficult to say that Root has had a poor series when the tests have been live. It is good for him to find his groove and make a hundred after looking out of touch but again this has been done with WI a bowler down and Holder banned from playing. I hate that context cant be provided in these situation without that #RootMaths BS.