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?

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