Hello! Welcome to Part 3 of the England welcoming the Windies. I’m slowly repairing England’s reputation as the worst team in the world. Slowly. We lose the ODI series but I’m claiming a technical win on that. You’ll have to read Part 2 to see what I mean by that. Anyway, we won the First Test and this is the state of play:

As many as six! Anyway, the Second Test starts with a double blow. Gough is out for a month, replaced by Caddick. Gareth Batty is out for a while too, so Patel is in the squad as the spin option.

The wear is good so I’m not sure we’ll need the spinner, but I know how many West Indies have been playing, so I don’t really want to go without.

Kevin Dean is perhaps a little unlucky to miss out but I am at least correct. Ramnarine plays along with Carl Hooper, alongside three quicks.

We lose the toss and the Windies put us in. I’m ok with that. Atherton and Stewart are steady as ever but Stewart falls for 28 with the scoreboard on 47, beaten for pace by Ian Bishop. Ramprakash is supposed to be a spin specialist but Ramnarine accounts for him for just 6. When Rose temps Thorpe into an edge to slip just before lunch, the balance of power has tipped in favour of the tourists. We’ve got work to do.

Mike Atherton is still there though, like a Lancastrian wall. He’s joined by Adam Hollioake who comes out swinging as usual. The pair pass a 50 partnership and it’s approaching 100 when Rose clean bowls Atherton for 74. Boo. Hollioake is joined by Habib and the pair are going on nicely but no sooner has Hollioake passed 50 he is back in the hutch. 194/5.

Habib and Wells pick up the proverbial baton and another 50 partnership puts us back in control. It’s a real shame when Wells is out for 46, but we’re dealt a blow when Bulbeck can’t avoid a bouncer and retires hurt. That’ll mean he can’t bowl either. Habib is left with the tail and with Headley out for 9, Habib edges to slip on 69. Caddick and Patel add a useful 28 but the innings ends on 350/9, with Bulbeck not coming back. Is it enough?

The West Indies batting lineup has frustrated me a few times so far; it feels like somebody always steps up when they’re under pressure. Caddick tempts Samuels into a nick behind to get us going but Wallace and Chanderpaul continue under minimal pressure. Dean Headley is my go to man though and he doesn’t disappoint. A smart caught and bowled ends the partnership but as Wallace departs, out comes Brian Lara. He and Shiv could take the game away from us if they get going so I’m even more grateful to Vince Wells than normal when he clean bowls Chanderpaul for 30. That just brings out Jimmy Adams though who has bludgeoned us before.

He and Lara carve us about and the absence of Bulbeck is starting to tell. Patel is no use really as the pitch is flat right now but with the partnership on 80, Dean Headley does what he always does and saves the day. Firstly, he clean bowls Lara for 60 just as he was looking set for a big score. He then accounts for Jimmy Adams, LBW for 39. Two big wickets and that sets the dominoes falling. Hooper follows for 2 and then Bishop for a duck. Three wickets falling on 207 has put us right in the driving seat. Headley and Wells clean up the tail and they’ve gone from 200/3 to 225 all out. I’d be proud of that.

Right lads. See out Day Three and then extend the lead on Day Four. A lead of 125 is excellent, I can’t imagine they’ll chase 300 plus. Our batting isn’t great. Atherton, Stewart and Ramprakash all get starts but a high score of 22 leaves us 63/3. The lead passes 200 and some reasonable middle order contributions see us edge past 300. Nobody can convert their starts into a big score though and we’re all out for 219, a lead of 344. It should be fine.

We have four sessions to bowl them out but we need to make quick inroads. Wallace and Samuels see off the new ball and it takes lovely Vince to break the partnership on 49. He always comes up with something when we need him to. Taking a lead out of the West Indies book, it’s cloudy so any medium pacer goes. Graham Thorpe takes the ball and gets the edge from Wallace to leave them 61/2. Once again it’s Chanderpaul and Lara tasked with building an innings for the Windies but Vincey. Oh Vincey. He tempts Lara into a cover drive which he top edges and Caddick takes the catch. 88/3, let’s get at them.

The pitch is starting to favour spin and Patel traps Adams LBW. 105/4 and we’re getting there. Hooper offers some resistance but Caddick removes both he and Jacobs LBW. 164/6. Bishop is clean bowled by Wellsy for 1 and it’s Chanderpaul left with the tail. He hogs the strike and deals with us as he always does. He’s on 90 but his resistance is finally ended on 90. 235/8. Finish them.

Rose keeps swinging and connecting but Benjamin has no such luck, nicking behind from Caddick. The big man is chasing his five-for and shortly thereafter clean bowls Rose, whose 45 gave us kittens but was ultimately futile. England win by 78 runs. 2-0 up with four to play.

A rare success. I’d love it if you would join me next time for the next instalment, we’re sniffing a series win and that doesn’t happen often. Toodles for now.