Saturday, 2 February 2019

Second Test - Day Three

Twenty five minutes before play, how do I feel?  Optimistic - If we can bowl out West Indies without the lead getting insurmountable...  If we can dig in and bat well...  A lifetime of following England cricket, I have to be an optimist.

Half an hour of play passes and WI have only added nine runs, even with the help of some sloppy fielding and questionable captaincy.  Then Jimmy strikes and Holder is gone!!  Followed soon after by Roach, to Jimmy again.  We're not out of this yet!

The eighth wicket brings Alzarri Joseph to the wicket, bravely playing cricket the morning after the death of his mother.  Fair play to a brave young man...  He's out to Stokes first ball of the day but the lead is inching higher.  Bravo reaches 50 but is stumped off Ali soon after, West Indies all out for 306 which is a lead of 119.  

Now it's up to England's batsmen, if they can play with skill and guts and match the West Indies total then we still have a chance...  Burns and Denly make it to lunch unscathed and that's England's session.  Perhaps only the second we've won in this match?

Back after lunch, Denly is riding his luck but Burns is looking solid however it's the latter that plays a poor shot to get caught at slip with the score on 35, just at the point where I was starting to relax.  Bairstow comes and goes with a dozen to his name.  The game is right in the balance now and the tension is palpable in my living room at least.  Root comes and goes, the captain is having a piss poor series with the bat and with his decision making.  Not long after Denly leaves a straight one and 35/0 has become 59/4.  Holder and Joseph have two each and are bowling brilliantly and then Stokes is put down at slip.  England need a miracle.

Elsewhere in the world of sport my football team, propping up the table lost to a 90th minute goal.  I keep checking the Rugby where against the odds England are winning in Dublin but my superstitious self daren't watch the match in case I put a curse on them.  England hang on to win, is the day changing?

Back after tea with Buttler and Stokes at the crease things seem a little bit calmer.  Ian Bishop on commentary is talking about when the last time West Indies won a series against a major team and I'm thinking a hundred partnership here and it might be a while longer.  Then Stokes plays on from a flashing drive FFS.  That sums up watching England play test cricket, just when you feel a bit of hope creeping in, England lose a wicket.  While I was typing that sentence Ali is bowled for 4 and it's 96/6.

Foakes and Buttler play a few nice shots and we are approaching parity, a spark of hope threatens to kindle but both fall in quick succession and it's now 118-8.  Which soon becomes 125-9.  I keep concentrating on England and yes there are obvious problems with England's team but West Indies four pace men have all bowled brilliantly.  A few minutes later England are all out for 132 and West Indies need just 14 to win, it takes 2.1 overs.  

At the start of this series if anyone had said the series would be over after seven days of cricket it would have been inconceivable that West Indies would be the winners but to be fair they have been the better team all round.  England have been papering over the cracks too long, the wins against India and Sri Lanka were due to the bowlers, we need to find some proper batsmen.  I started the day with optimism but finish it worried for the English summer ahead.

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