Thursday, 31 January 2019

Second test Antigua

Ah here we go again, another day in the life of a masochist/England cricket fan.  This time the venue is Antigua which I remember as being a batsman's paradise...  West Indies are unchanged and England's XI looks much better on paper.  Joe Denly makes his debut, in for Jennings who really needs time in county cricket before he come again, if ever.  Also we've only picked one spinner so Stuart Broad is back, hallelujah!!  West Indies have won the toss and put England in, really?

So with something like our sixteenth opening partnership in the last seven years, Burns and Denly take to the crease and things look difficult, runs very hard to come by, West Indies are bowling well.  After four consecutive maidens Burns gets one away to the boundary... but is caught at slip a couple of balls later!!!  Bairstow comes in, our latest number three, he looks in good touch and the scoreboard starts to tick over but then Denly is caught behind playing an awful shot.  I have a feeling of deja vu.  Root comes in but doesn't last long, to be fair he gets an unplayable delivery, this pitch is two paced and looks a tricky one.  Bairstow counter attacks, he looks like he's playing on a different wicket.  At lunch it's 78/4 and I'm thinking 200 would be a good score on this wicket.

Bairstow is out straight after lunch for a classy 52, Stokes looks uncomfortable and doesn't last much longer 93/6.  Ali needs runs, he is with Ben Foakes now and the two put together the first decent partnership of the innings, all of a sudden the pitch doesn't look so bad.  Their partnership passes fifty, Ali has his first half century for a while and tea comes with the score looking much better at 172/6.  How many more runs can we add?

The answer is not many, Shannon Gabriel blows England away after the break and we are all out for 187.  We need quick wickets but they don't come.  Brathwaite and Cambell bat very well, if in a restrained manner but they are effective.  There's not much wrong with England's bowling but we lack one thing, something we've lacked for a few years now.  That thing is pace, serious pace.  At the close West Indies are unscathed at 30/0 and will be the happiest team by far.

If England don't take quick wickets in the morning then this game is going to slip away.  The team that looked so good against Sri Lanka is now looking very ordinary.  I don't feel upset or angry today, we've put a decent team out there (even though I'd have played Woakes ahead of Curran and probably Leach ahead of Ali..), it's just West Indies have played damn good cricket today.  What will tomorrow bring?

Saturday, 26 January 2019

First Test - Day four

The gig was great 'Fucked up' at the Garage Islington, bouncy, sweaty punk music, a happy distraction from the trauma of the cricket. I arrived home shortly after midnight and checked the score....  Am I reading this right?  West Indies didn't lose a wicket all day... a ton for Dowrich and a double for Holder ????  England needing over 600 to win finish 56/0.  I assume the pitch is flattening out?

So to day four and it's an absolute pleasure to watch Rory Burns this afternoon.  He looks calm and confident and is putting away any loose bowling.  To be fair he's rode his luck a bit but then he had no luck in the first innings.  Jennings on the other hand looks stroke-less and despite hanging in for an hour he can't resist hanging the bat at a ball he could have left.  He keeps getting out in the same manner to seam bowling and his place has to be in doubt now.

Back to Burns, how did it take so long for him to be selected?  His partner at Surrey, Stoneman was picked first and he never for a second looked as comfortable as Burns does this afternoon.  But as soon as I'm thinking he's on for a century the spinner goes straight through him and he's out for 84.  At lunch its 134/2.

Not long after lunch and Bairstow is strangled down the leg side and things are starting to look ominous.  Stokes is reprieved by DRS and all of a sudden a pitch that was benign yesterday is looking like it has demons, we need a partnership...  But Stokes is out of nick, he's making the bowlers look good at the moment, will he survive or will he get through this and get a big one?  While I'm worrying about Stokes, Joe Root gets himself caught at slip off the spinner Chase, it must be said it's a crap shot and we're 167/4, oh dear...

The anger has gone today, more resignation.  We won't witness a miracle, we are going to lose heavily, the only question is how much will we be tortured first?  Buttler comes in and makes things look easy, Stokes looks like he's come through the worst of a sticky patch and I'm breathing a little easier.  It doesn't last, Stokes misses a straight one from the spinner and is LBW.  In comes Ali and out goes Ali for a pair, another awful shot to the spinner who now, somehow has four wickets.  England's batsmen are getting themselves in then throwing it away, at tea its 217/6.

The final session, Buttler hasn't looked in any trouble at all but is out to a superb catch and Roston Chase has five wickets without turning a single ball.  This will be over today.  It all falls apart quickly after that, Foakes is out to a smart catch, Rashid to a juggling boundary catch and finally Curran is stumped.  Chase finishes with 8-60 and he still hasn't turned a ball.

Fair play to West Indies who have totally outplayed England in every department.  This was a terrible performance from England, I thought we'd hit rock bottom against Pakistan last summer but this was probably worse.  "Root's team" is not good enough.  The captain was dishonest with his analysis at the post match interview, he deflected questions like a politician.  I would drop four players for the next match and my X! would be;
Burns, Denly, Bairstow, Root, Buttler, Stokes, Foakes, Woakes, Leach, Broad, Anderson.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Barbados Day 3

I woke up this morning, still angry...

In the past there has been an 'implication' that there is tension between Broad/ Anderson and the captain Joe Root.  After the excellent series win in Sri Lanka (when the two great bowlers did not take the field together) the media started talking about this being "Root's team now..."  I wonder how much this contributed to the team selection for this match?  Is Root intimidated by having both Broad and Anderson in the same team?  There was talk on day one about Root having a "gut feeling" hence the strange selection.  I think it must have been wind.

Yes it was the batsmen who failed in this match, all nine of them but I can't help thinking West Indies would not have got anywhere near 289 had Broad played, I also believe that on these wickets Chris Woakes or Mark Wood would have been far more effective bowlers than Sam Curran.  I repeat, I have nothing against Curran, he looks like he could become a very good batting all rounder in the near future but he is definitely not a test quality opening bowler.

Anyway, I missed most of the agony today as I was fishing during daylight and I'm due to set off gigging in London in a few minutes time.  As I write West Indies are 239/6 at lunch, a lead of 449...

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Barbados Day two

The start of play is still a couple of hours away, 264-8...  How good a score is this?  Par for first innings in recent times is 255 but this wicket looks better than that.  After the new ball burst last night it looked like it was England's day but West Indies have runs on the board and a decent pace attack...

At last play starts and Hetmyer looks solid, marshaling the tail and smacking the odd boundary.  The total is building, it's becoming annoying and a little bit worrying.  But Jimmy strikes to take his wicket tally to five.  Shortly afterwards Stokes removes Hetmyer for 81 to finish with 4-59 while Anderson ended up with 5-46.  West Indies have made 289 which is a decent total but not as much as it looked like being at tea on day one.

England bat, Burns and Jennings start slowly, picking off the odd single while Windies bowl tight.  Jennings starts to look comfortable and hits a couple of fours but relaxes and edges Holder into the slip cordon.  A repeat of so many Jennings dismissals from the last couple of years...  England reach lunch 30-1.  The afternoon session will be very interesting!

Burns falls unluckily, straight after lunch, 35-2 and its starting to look ominous...  Bairstow follows too soon 44-3  And then Root 44-4!!!  I actually feel angry at this point, the tall fast bowler Holder has two of the wickets and our tall fast bowler with over 400 wickets is not even in the side.  I say it again.  Arrogant selection!

Buttler hits a four, Stokes gets out 48-5.  Can Foakes save us like he did in Sri Lanka?  Ali is in before that...  Out first ball, caught on the boundary, dreadful cricket, For Fuck Sake!!!  Foakes has to face a hat trick ball...  Which he survives but then Buttler gets a snorter 49-7.  This is mostly down to excellent bowling, England's batsmen haven't done much wrong, well played West Indies but I'm still seething about the selection...

Curran comes in and tries to counter attack slapping a couple of boundaries.  Foakes gets a good ball from Joseph 61-8.  England are out of their misery before tea, all out for 77.  

West Indies second innings started but I had prearranged trip to the cinema with my son.  This came as a bit of a relief to be honest, even though the film wasn't really my cup of tea.  On the way home I had an altercation with a cyclist.  If the silly cunt had some lights on his bike I might have missed him by a greater distance.  When we got home West Indies were 127-6 at close which is a lead of 339.  They will bat on tomorrow and England will be chasing 400 on a wearing pitch. There is little hope of England avoiding defeat from here and in a way they deserve to lose for the arrogant selection.

Following England playing test cricket is always emotional but it's rare for that emotion to be anger at my own team...

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

1st Test Bridgetown Barbados

At last another test match!  England against the West Indies in a three match series that we should win comfortably.  However WI always raise their game to play us, I have a feeling we won't have it all our own way.

I got home from a job in Thetford, halfway through the first sessionto find West Indies batting and the score 46-0.  I assume WI won the toss?  Within a few minutes the score had passed fifty but Moeen had removed the opener Campbell LBW for 44.  Watching... the pitch looks good, not much pace, no seam movement but a bit of bounce.  There are marks from where the ball has pitched clearly visible in the first session, will that cause problems later in the match?
I'm trying to work out what England's team is, Stokes is bowling and that seems early in the innings.  Then I spot Curran in the field as well as Rashid which can only mean Broad has been left out?  Broad, seriously?  What???  Lunch comes, Brathwaite and Hope unbeaten, the score is 89-1 and its West Indies session for sure.

Straight after lunch we have Jimmy and Rashid bowling and keeping things very tight but I can't see where a wicket is coming from.  Stokes comes on for Jimmy and immediately starts shaking things up again, he looks like he's going to make something happens but just when its looking interesting I'm called to the table for dinner.  Of course two wickets fall to Stokes while I'm away from the TV!  126-1 becomes 128-3 in the blink of an eye.  With a delicious home made pizza consumed I'm back in front of the box with Stokes still running in.  Sod's law strikes again as just as I'm settled, would you believe its raining in Barbados.  The umpires call an early tea so I decide it's a good time to whip out to the shop.

When I got back from Asda Hope and Chase are building a decent partnership and both look solid, the former passes fifty and memories of Headingly are starting to bubble.  Just as I settle in front of the TV again Jimmy strikes and Hope has gone!  174-4.  Hetmyer enters the stage looking confident, slashes at Jimmy but Buttler misses a tricky catch and he gets a life.  The game seems to drift away from England, Hetmyer smashes a few while Chase accumulates.  The new ball is imminent so England rush through overs with Rashid and Root bowling tidily, the score passes 200 and then some.

I'm watching the game on Sky with Atherton, Bumble and Hussien in the box, Ian Ward is there too but he's talking bollocks.  The West Indian contingent is Darren Ganga who is OK, Jeff Dujon who is class and the excitable Ian Bishop who thinks everything is "crucial" or "critical".  Where is Mikey Holding?  His absence is as heavy as his presence.

With the score at 230+ for 4 wickets and two batsmen set I was nervous when the new ball was taken but Jimmy was class, we almost take this for granted.  He removed Chase, caught behind for 54 and soon after had Dowrich caught at slip for a duck.  It was just as well Jimmy was on form as at the other end Curran was hit out of the attack.  Jimmy had Holder caught and bowled and then right at the end Stokes removed Roach and West Indies had lost four wickets in no time to swing the day England's way.  Hetmyer remained unbeaten on 56 and looks a good player with a bit of swagger and the look of Desmond Haynes.  The spell with the new ball was great to watch, you could feel the wickets coming and as Bishop would say, it proved "critical".

This is a pretty good start to the series for England but how good will be much more clear this time tomorrow.  I'm amazed Broad wasn't picked, Curran was poor today and it remains to be seen if picking two spinners was necessary.  Judging on the home team's selection, they don't think so.  I don't think anyone really believes England picked their best XI for this match, if this was Australia Broad would have played.  Will England rue this arrogant selection?