Saturday, 9 February 2019

3rd Test St. Lucia - Day one

Two hours before the start of play...

 England have named the team and it's looking like Mark Wood will play, this will be interesting, how will his 'extra pace' compare to the West Indies bowlers?  Ben Foakes will miss out and is very unlucky to do so, that said we can't keep trying to stuff all these wicket keepers and all rounders into the team.  The way he bats, maybe he could find a spot at no.3?  But if he plays then he's the best keeper by far so shouldn't bat at 3.  Either way he's unlucky and Bairstow knows he has to fight to keep his place.  Talking of JB, if he's keeping then he should bat at 7, no higher, no lower.  But should he be keeping?  He is one of our best batsmen so surely England should have persevered with him at 3?

  Curran is in the squad but it looks like he will only play if Stokes is deemed unfit.  Stokes should bat no higher than 6, yes he looks the part but pushing him up the order just hasn't worked.
That just leaves the top three which will be Burns, Jennings and Denly, probably in that order.  Jennings is lucky to get another go and all three are playing for their future test careers.  If by some miracle England's first innings finds itself 350/1 then the selectors will be happy but probably not as happy as the Australian bowlers...  Looking at it in simple terms, we have put Jennings in the team and left out Foakes who looks a solid enough batsmen to give it a go at 3 even if it was just for one match???  I'm as confused as the tour selection committee.

As much as England got things right in Sri Lanka I think they have got things badly wrong from day one on this tour.  Atherton on TV is saying the team is better balanced and I think he's right but it just goes to show how wrong it was earlier on.

West Indies have won the toss and put England in...  Stokes is fit so Curran drops out and rightly so.  West Indies have had to leave the brilliant Holder out due to an over rate punishment.  This is bollocks, surely there must be a better way of punishing the team?

Game on, England batting and I sit with no emotion, at this point I almost feel impartial, does this England team represent me?  I want them to do well, of course I do!  But if they don't then I'll feel little pain.  Maybe it's because we are playing the West Indies, like many people I have a lot of affection for the great WI sides of old.  However there's a good chance I could be watching us being hammered at home by Australia in a few months time...

Meanwhile Jennings and Burns are both off the mark.  Last ball of the fifth over and Jennings wafts at a wide one, luckily it falls short of slip.  A few balls later it's fucking raining!  Does that mean we have survived a session?
We're back on.  West Indies bowling OK, England watchful...  Roach bowls an excellent over at Jennings, could have had him twice but somehow he survives.  Even if he gets a score from here the flaws in his technique are glaring and we are still no further forward.   At the other end Burns is looking solid and starting to get the scoreboard slowly ticking over.  The opening bowlers have been seen off but Jennings edges the first ball from Keemo Paul to slip with his normal waft outside off.  The score is 30/1, Jennings has the second innings then a long time in county cricket, I doubt we'll see him again.  Denly comes in and survives till lunch, without looking like a test class batsman.  46/1.

For half an hour after lunch England tick over, Burns looking solid and Denly more fluent but you have the feeling a wicket could fall at any time.  Then Burns misses a straight one from Paul and his gone LBW for 29, which isn't a bad contribution for an England opener in the context of this series.  A few minutes later Denly is LBW to Gabriel and it's 69/3 all of a sudden.  Tension; Root and Buttler can't get a run and WI are bowling well.  Buttler goes for a wide one, its a horrible shot but the slips put each other off and he gets away with it.  Next over Root edges one which doesn't quite carry, West Indies are bowling well and England don't look good enough.  Just easing towards tea with the batsmen starting to look comfortable, Root is caught behind off a piss poor shot, 107/4.  Stokes comes in and England limp to tea at 114/4.

Where do we go from here?  200 all out or a counter attack and 250/6 at close??  Dare England counter attack?  England's batsmen are looking terrible.  Is it because they just haven't had a chance to play themselves into any form or are mentally shot so they don't know when to defend or when to attack.  Are they thinking too much and not playing naturally or instinctively?  On the other hand the West Indies four man pace attack has been consistently excellent, a throw back to the great sides of years gone by.

Straight after tea, Stokes survives a close LBW appeal and then nearly plays on.  He manages to get a few runs though, has our luck changed?  The runs start to come, Stokes is looking more fluent with a few drives flowing, Buttler is looking solid but still there is something in the pitch and neither looks set.  They manage to put together the first fifty partnership of the innings and if they can keep together we might just get something out of the day.  Stokes passes fifty and is looking good but is out soon after to a very good caught and bowled from Joseph, 193/5 but no!  It's a no ball!  Stokes is reprieved!  Buttler passes fifty and the partnership is a hundred!  England's first century partnership of the series, that says it all...  They push on steadily and the day meanders to the close with both batsmen unbeaten and the score 231/4.  Probably England's best day of the tour! 

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