|Tino Best drives straight|
Now aged 30, he wouldn't have been seen again but some of the old enthusiasm was showing through in the domestic season for Barbados and he squeaked into the touring side for England. Injuries and desperation gave him an unexpected second chance at Birmingham and after two days of rain and a day of battle by the batsmen, he strode onto the Edgbaston ground after only three balls of the fourth morning, already smiling.
What a day out he had.
In a morning session extended by the game's situation, he spent more than two hours spanking England's bowlers, captain, coach and selectors for their arrogance and the disrespect they had shown his team and the game in standing down two of the most deadly finishers in the game. He blazed his way to a half century off just 44 deliveries, settled in to support his partner Dinesh Ramdin to a well deserved century and then became became the highest scoring No 11 in the 2045 Test history of the game. That he missed his century by such a narrow margin was heart breaking but irony is the mixing bowl in which cricket ingredients are combined and his dismissal was not a victory for England but another reminder that no one man is bigger than the game. For once, those that cherish this game would have wished it not be quite so hard. Watching him walk to the boundary with his head wrapped mournfully in his hands before raising his head to smile again and thank the crowd was an experience which ended a morning which washed the cynicism and greed clean from a week of character assassination and self righteousness.
Best then took wickets early and late in his more fancied role as an opening bowler, as England stumbled either side of a glorious partnership.
|Ramdin reaches 100|
The match now beyond them in the time available, England did what they do worst, batting out time. Alastair Cook, Jonathon Trott and Andrew Strauss were all gone by the fifteenth over with less than fifty on the board to the combination of Best, Ravi Rampaul and Darren Sammy. There was more than a wiff about the English when Strauss was third out, brilliantly caught by Darren Bravo at first slip off Best. They were vulnerable and the only side who could lose the game.
|Ian Bell was elegant|
|Pietersen at his unambitious best|
Samuels removed Pietersen thanks to Sammy's quick reflexes and sure hands at first slip. Perhaps it was the time of the day or an approaching hundred which distracted him but the value of Samuel's apparently innocuous part time off spin again went against popular opinion. With the day finally closing in, Jonny Bairstow played across the line looking for runs to square leg and was castled by Best.
Fittingly Best had the last, hearty laugh.
Unless the West Indies take 5-5 on the final morning, the game is headed to a destination that was booked after lunch on the second day. Even then, an even more over powering opponent waits for them ... the English weather. Rain has ruined their tour. England have won all the important moments and will deserve their series win, but rain has taken away or damaged any preparation time before or during the series. In these micro tours, any interruptions are destructive. Not surprisingly when they finally get on top, rain, not the West Indies, will dominate the last day.
Still, you can only do your Best.