True grit!

A slightly different form to this blog – in essence ramblings and jottings at each break in play to try and give a flavour of the swings and roundabouts of the match. Starting on Day 3, England took the new ball and in essence wasted it. Holder went early for 45 but it brought da Silva to the crease where he found Wood a bit of a handful especially against the short stuff. As the photos show, da Silva had real problems but none of the other bowlers were able to cause so much discomfort!

Da Silva – and he’s not jumping for joy!

What was not clear at the time was whether this effort caused Wood to be taken off and not reappear after lunch. What it did show is that da Silva is a photographers delight!

For the rest, it was ball chasing field settings. Root kept asking Stokes for advice – why not give Ben the job now?

At lunch WIndies 271/5 – 40 behind. Lost 1 for 69 in the session. New ball ineffective – Woakes all at sea, Overton strives, Wood and Stokes best by far but not given the brand new ball! Interesting next session! Grim determined stuff all round but just what Test cricket is all about!

The post Branderson era is going to be a lot tougher than we think based on the evidence so far. Could well turn out that the folly of keeping these two together for too long is dawning on the ECB. Yes, they are excellent players but as discussed over dinner this week, egos the size of planets and a belief that they are bigger than the game. This lack of succession planning plus the restrictions on youth playing conditions and all the other ‘wondrous’ strategies from the ECB and others brings us to where we are. Mollycoddling players at all levels leads to a lack of playing experience but also a lack of sustainable fitness! But more on that another time.

It’s clear as the afternoon progresses that it’s a real pleasure to watch tests here – none of the ‘massed drink til we drop’ brigades we see elsewhere. People are here to watch and enjoy. And it’s not overpriced for visitors or locals – get the product right, the market will deliver!

At tea on Day 3, WIndies lead by 11 with 3 wickets to fall! Bonner is in touching distance of a well deserved 100 and England’s attack looked poor, a bit tired and lacked any innovation or Plan B. But we’ve seen that for years! Spin at both ends speeds things up but the day hinges on the last session – can WIndies get to a reasonable lead or will England mop up and then press ahead? Who knows. Wood off for the whole session.

The track is getting flatter as it dries in the sun…the second half of the match should be even more interesting!

Close of play – 62 ahead with 9 down. Overall a day of true Test cricket – a test for players, umpires, ground staff, spectators, media…in fact everyone! Not high scoring or rapid – after all it’s not full on razzmatazz, this is THE game! I thoroughly enjoyed it although some, perhaps brought up on a more instant way of life, may not have done. What it does mean is that tomorrow is really vital as to how this match is going to go!

Da Silva doing a bit better
And again!

Day 4 dawns with the prospect of showers during play to punctuate the day but we shall see. One of the additional joys of watching cricket is people watching – and admit it, we all do it! And today is no different- there’s the usual ‘I must play with my phone like a child’s toy’ type, book and device readers, chatterers, sleepers, sunbathers, puzzle solvers, postcard writers and today someone testing themselves on their Spanish vocabulary between deliveries! And topped off with a local ‘commentator’ offering their views on what Windes need to do!And who said ‘nothing ever happens at cricket’ ?

In terms of cricket – WIndies added 3 to their overnight giving a lead of 64. By lunch, England take the lead at 72/1 – the one being Lees who looked a bit overawed by the occasion. Root and Crawley steer the ship but with no sense of purpose other than, it seems to the casual observer, batting practice or making the match secure. Let’s see!

One aspect getting everyone talking is the umpiring – the number of overturned referrals seems staggering but umpires like players need match practice and with the pandemic some will have lost form. It’s the most difficult job imaginable but at least standards are consistent.

By tea – taken a little late following a shower – England reach 146/1 off 49 overs with a potential 38 more to go this evening (won’t happen as the local cut off is 5.30pm come what may). Root 55 and Crawley 75 continue to steer good ship England to a lead of 82. Pending a collapse or two this starts to have ‘draw’ written all over it.

A bad tempered session after tea – bad tempered in that the WIndies seemed to be a bit annoyed with the umpiring, decisions not going their way, ball not being changed etc – came to a premature end with 23 overs unbowled and England on 217/1 a lead of 153.

Crawley made a deserved century and is still there as is Root who is approaching his. I still think the draw looks nailed on as the pitch is getting progressively better and better for batting but…

Overall two fascinating days of true grind and grit. Neither side dominating but the last day could well be the most exciting!

And some 4th day photos…

Joe settling in…
Jayden Seales looks a good prospect
Some of the play required true grit – thankfully with Stokes and Foakes still to come!

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