Let’s take things slowly shall we?

A day more concentrating on the test rather than the scenery…but nonetheless it cannot be ignored for its sheer beauty and brilliance!

This is the view from behind the stadium!

A less than auspicious start by England – nothing really troubled the bats in the first hour to drinks but when Stokes got one to do a bit more, the shape of the session changed. Brathwaite was taken lbw by Stokes as I’ve said and then Overton and Mahmood (who’s having the best time at this stage) found the right line and length to bring the short ball into play.

Straining every sinew and muscle
Celebrate! Brathwaite gone!

Campbell was hit on the head – or rather failed to duck/sway in time, Brooks looked uncomfortable against these two and with lunch looming Blackwood and Bonner took the chance to practice their world class time management skills – and who wouldn’t? – to steer WIndies to 71/3 at lunch; each on 1no. Only 25 overs in the session so don’t get me started on over rates as blood will boil in already warm temperatures!

I knew it would! As soon as I wrote that at lunch I knew by tea it would be nagging and gnawing at me all afternoon and England did not disappoint. They’ve managed to bowl 51 overs in 4 hours (rate less than 13 when the requirement is 15). With 39 overs to go in 150 minutes maximum we’re going to get short changed again and the paying public will not see tests as value for money! Perhaps that explains why the ground is less than a third full and then thanks to a large England contingent.

The cricket media will say it’s disgraceful and something must be done…until the next time a team is so slow and so we go round and round. As for the speed of play this afternoon I’ve seen milk turn faster!

During that session WIndies crawled to 134/7 losing 4 for 63 in the afternoon. Holder had a rush of blood and was caught by Jonny in the outfield and Bonner got himself in a tangle giving a catch.

Bonner gets into a bit of a tangle…and out!
Jason! What were you thinking?
There’s a sniff of a victory in the offing and the locals pour in!
Mayers gets in a tangle too!
da Silva starts getting airborne but not quite like Antigua!
And so does Mayers!

Not exactly sparkling cricket but then this is a test! It’s setting itself up nicely for a low scoring game – not quite what the pitch prognosticators (self included!) had envisaged for today.

This is now really starting to get me annoyed.

As I write this it’s 5.12pm – past ‘scheduled’ close of play and three minutes since the last ball was bowled…we’ve had light meters, new ball brought on, fields set and reset, discussions by the truck load – and I’m paying to watch this! In over 40 years in management and governance I’ve attended minuted and completed committee meetings which haven’t taken this long. For the sake of test cricket, somebody do something and soon!

I promise I shall have calmed down by tomorrow!

In other news, WIndies have taken the lead as England struggle to find Plan B since Plan A has stopped working! Why flog your quick bowlers when there’s less than 10 overs to the new ball and you introduce Leach for over 77!

Overall both innings followed the same pattern but England wickets fell to lateral movement but WIndies to the fast short stuff. What does the pitch hold in store for tomorrow?

At stumps WIndies lead by 28 with da Silva being limpet like (again) 54no but if it goes much slower the match will stop altogether!

Chef knew! 3rd test day one

Two weeks today I’ll either be shivering atop the Lord’s pavilion or staring all agog for the new season at the concrete of the multi storey car park adjoining the Chelmsford county ground. But for the moment I have THIS!

The National Stadium in St George’s Grenada is a feast for the eyes – and a photographers delight as is all the island. Photos do not necessarily (or at least mine) do justice the the picturesque quality of the view. The ground nestles at the end of a steep/sided valley which is awash with greenery. Both sides of the valley have, somehow, properties clinging to their sides, each painted a vibrant colour to make this one of the finest views from a cricket ground and roads which seem almost vertical from here but still the traffic manages.

In terms of the cricket it doesn’t have the kudos of those with better views – Lord’s, Adelaide Oval, Worcester, Newlands etc – but it is one the most beautiful grounds around.

I know a few of you prefer my photos to my words…so here’s a few to give you a flavour of the day!

Overton – no sign of a call from Strictly anytime soon!
Merely hints at how picturesque this ground is!
Lunch time carnival
Everywhere you go, another great image appears!
Jonny plays down the wrong line and…good night!
Woakes wasn’t a lot happier either!
Where did the ball go? I saw it whizz past!
WIndies cheer!
‘Liquid marijuana’ to end the day!

If only the same could be said of the Third Test being played out in front of me. A more lively looking pitch encouraged Brathwaite to bowl first and at lunch England have struggled against some fine bowling to 46/3 off 27 overs; Crawley, Root and Lawrence back in the hutch. Maidens galore so it’s not been easy.

There’s a much more relaxed approach here than in the other two venues, and, admittedly smaller crowds but the stadium has the feel of the Oval on a quietish county championship day except for the four police officers guarding the pitch at lunch time and a carnival band processing the boundary!

By mid afternoon it was clear the haunting torment from Australia had not gone away. The WIndies quicks managed to get the ball to swing (dare one say ‘reverse’ after only 30/35 overs) and coupled with the lack of English footwork (more akin to week one on Strictly) wickets fell so that by tea England had crumbled to 114/8 – or 68/5 in that session! Wickets were shared around in that session except for Mayers who wasn’t asked but then wasn’t needed!

Dined last night at a local authentic family run restaurant and at the end of the meal the chef/owner appeared to greet his diners. He clearly does this so often that his son/waiter just brings a chair for dad to sit on. The look of disdain on the sons face says it all – on the lines of ‘he’s off again, more work for the rest of us!’

Alighting on English cricket supporters the topic soon moved to todays match. Clearly he knows his cricket and this ground – his forecast is for England to ‘get walloped’ – on the basis of the first serving, he’s not far off!

The evening session started with Woakes falling for the second ball and it looked all over but Mahmood and Leach decided otherwise and slowly counterattacked to stymie the WIndies. Mahmood finally fell to the penultimate ball of the day for 49, a partnership of 90 and England ending on 204ao

Both sides would have accepted that given the twists and turns of the day. Ended the day with a ‘liquid marijuana’ cocktail just for good measure!

Perhaps the chef this evening – a different one – will offer another opinion with the sweet course?