|West Indians trying to stay warm|
England have been pushed back into a corner at Lords by a spirited performance from Darren Sammy's West Indians, which lasted from the first ball until the last as they refused to submit. At stumps, the Poms are once again facing batting woes which have dogged them since January, losing Andrew Strauss and night watchman Jimmy Anderson in the four overs bowled. On the last day, they'll need another 181 to secure a victory which looked much easier twenty four hours ago.
Whilst the 157 run fifth wicket partnership between Shiv Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels was the cornerstone of the innings, it had been expected that the rest of the cards would fall once they were parted but it took a long time for that to happen and as each over passed and both players closed on centuries, belief started to grow in the West Indies camp. In the first session, with the outside temperature on 10C, no one braved the balcony outside the visitors rooms. After lunch, with the new ball taken, the balcony filled with players covered even in towels to try and stay warm. Their look wasn't important ... it was the fact they were there.
The morning session belonged to the two middle order men, adding 92 and steadily rising the frustration levels of the English. Their approaches were different. Samuels constantly pushed singles and then dispatched the loose stuff which was mostly offered by Tim Bresnan but he also took four boundaries in three overs from Graeme Swann. Chanderpaul was classically himself, so locked into his own introverted little world that he nearly ran himself out by darting off for a single but forgetting to tell Samuels his plans. His lack of communication is legendary in cricket. Some people say he is the Stig, cut in half and given a different helmet. None of which changes his refusal to play outside off stump and the graft of his leg side game.
|Marlon Samuels made 86|
It was in this space after tea that the English game plan of patience started to unravel. They might have expected to have the champagne flowing by half past four but were instead still in the field, the lead now into that wobbly range and the tail finding something they weren't supposed to have. With their wounds exposed, the last pair added salt and rubbed. Fidel Edwards batted for more than an hour and the biggest bunny since Roger Rabbit, Shanon Gabriel, saw off Anderson and Stuart Broad and batted for more than half an hour and reached double figures for only the second time in his first class career. He even hit Swann to the mid wicket boundary. The English tactics were strange, bordering on panic. Strauss gave long spells to all of his quick men and Broad and Anderson, in particular, over-used the short stuff at the West Indies last four. Bouncing Gabriel seemed the most ludicrous tactic off all, when full and straight would have ended it.
All of which builds character in the underdog. Strauss and his men gave Darren Sammy their full support in rousing his men.
Broad picked up four more wickets and has strong claims for man of the match honours with eleven for the match but England will have to win for him to be shaking the jereboam of Bollinger over his mates tomorrow. That's no longer a certainty. The oddity was Swann. For a man who takes more than a third of his wickets stump to stump - bowled or lbw - and has a justifiable reputation for cleaning out the tail, where was he? England bowled 81 overs in the day and Swann only 11 of them.
|Roach removed Strauss|
I wonder if some thick spectacled lonely statistician could study the use of night watchmen. Its a ploy which so rarely works and so often ruins the rhythm of an innings. Very few get good runs the next day and the list of night watchmen hundreds is a short one. If they get out, nothing has been achieved. If they stay, the batting is messed up the next day. Either way, it just throws away and early wicket and no matter what you say, the English batsmen will still see 2-10 on the scoreboard tomorrow morning without thinking about who constitutes the two. All the batsmen have to slot down the order one place. Batsmen are suspicious, brittle little things, of which is sometimes asked "how many batsmen does it take to change a light bulb ... change?" Batsmen groom, bowlers grunt.
I've argued this case before but it keeps happening. Why bowlers have to do their work and the batsman's is beyond me.
The West Indies have had a great day. If Sammy can bottle it and uncork it again tomorrow, then the next bottle might be Broad's champagne. Three strikes before lunch should do it.
Session Count: England 5, West Indies 4, drawn 3