Welcome back! The West Indies tour of England has been full of surprises. England remain terrible, struggling to shake off the worst team in the world tag. The West Indies meanwhile shocked us all by opting for spin and medium pace, a tactic that almost worked in the first ODI and then ultimately outfoxed us in the second. That was then though and now we’ve learnt from those mistakes. Bring on the third ODI.

More cloud cover though suggests those medium pacers are going to be tricky again. Batting first will mean the new ball under the clouds, batting second will leave us open to spin pain. Hmm…

It’s still an experimental team but one that is capable of winning. West Indies have shown their cards by picking three spinners and no out and out pace. I can see what their plan is but that doesn’t mean I know how to stop it.

West Indies win the toss and put me in. Why would they do that? Cloud cover is a factor probably and once again the opening bats open the bowling. It’s with devastating effect though as Butcher, Thorpe and Habib all depart for very little. Nick Knight offers 25 in the way of resistance before going the same way – 43/4.

The run rate is poor as well. We can’t get the many spinners away and Adam Hollioake is the only one who looks comfortable. The biggest insult of all though is that Samuels bowls 12 overs rather than 10. What?! We crawl to 191 all out which probably won’t be enough. Outrageous!

I can see why West Indies picked no quicks. Headley and Gough are sent to all parts of the ground and it takes Bulbeck and Wells to restore some parity. Wells even bowls Chanderpaul who single handedly beat us in the second ODI. The part time medium pace of Mark Butcher accounts for Brian Lara and at 131/6, we’ve fought our way into this match. One more wicket and quickly would make it very interesting. Instead, an unbroken partnership of 64 ends the game. Captain Jimmy Adams was faultless and we fall to a weak defeat. But still. Furious over the bowling incident.

We’ll get our revenge in the tests. There’s six of them. SIX. Here’s the weather latest:

It’s time to pick a new squad and it’s the usual test team but Gareth Batty is the latest spinner called up. He’s preferred to Bulbeck, who is 12th man. West Indies once again have three spinners plus two fast bowlers.

They win the toss and bat. That will mean batting last against a triple spin attack. Fortunately Dean Headley is the most angry about the ODI fiasco and he rips through Wallace, Samuels and Lara in no time to reduce the tourists to 22/3. Chanderpaul and Adams begin the rebuilding process and frustrate us for a while but Adam Hollioake traps Adams in front for 36 and 102/4 at lunch is probably in our favour.

There’s jubilation after lunch when Wells tempts Chanderpaul into one shot too many and he’s out for 47. 105/5. Hooper and Ridley Jacobs scratch around for a bit before Headley returns to clean up Hooper. Jacobs hogs the strike and it’s soon apparent why. Bishop streaks a couple of boundaries before falling to Wells and Gough bowls Rose for a duck. 151/8 and all is well with the world at tea.

Jacobs comes out firing and soon passes 50. Nagamootoo is holding things up annoyingly but after what feels like an age, Gareth Batty manages to bowls Jacobs for 68. 201/9 soon becomes 203 all out when Dean gets in on the act as Thorpe clings on to a slip catch. Well done.

Let the batting begin. We see out the day and it’s soon a 50 partnership early on Day Two. As soon as the spin arrives though Stewart can’t handle it and he is clean bowled. Habib makes 15 without ever looking comfortable and soon perishes to the pace of Rose. Enter Graham Thorpe.

With Thorpe and Atherton at the crease and the scoreboard on 86/2, it’s fair to say the innings will be shaped by what happens next. Thankfully, both bring their A game and the runs flow. The West Indies attack lacks variety and a 150 partnership is just what the terrible coach ordered. Atherton is the first to bring up his hundred but departs soon after for 102. Thorpe is joined by Ramprakash yet falls shortly after reaching 105 – both going to the spin of Nagamootoo. Despite Ramnarine going on to claim 4 wickets, it’s only after 190 runs are added. Wells and Batty both get 50s and once Batty is out for 72, we declare with the scoreboard on 464/8. A lead of 261 and we’re only just at tea on Day Three.

With time and runs on our side we can afford to be a little aggressive. Gough accounts for both openers and Kevin Dean traps Lara LBW. As I start to dream of a win inside four days, Chanderpaul and Adams dig in. Batty has nowhere near the success Ramnarine had and the partnership passes 100 with minimal fuss. Adams is scoring at a great rate whilst Chanderpaul plods along doing Shiv things. The partnership is well past 100 and with Adams closing in on his hundred, it’s with relief that Wells traps Shiv LBW. 193/4 and our lead is almost gone. Hooper is bowled by Dean whilst Jacobs falls to Headley. 253/6 and with the scores basically level, the dangerous Adams stands between us and winning the first test.

There’s plenty of time on our side but what we don’t need is Ian Bishop joining the party. The pair put on 90 before Adams is finally out to Sir Vince of Wells. 164 he scored, 164 too many. 343/7 and just the tail to go. Hollioake has seen enough and removes Rose, Nagamootoo and finally Bishop for 54. 363 all out and we need 103 to win. A negative is that Darren Gough got injured at tea. I don’t want to know how but he won’t bat.

Sure, it’s a Day Five pitch but c’mon we’ll manage to knock off 103. Then we’re 34/3 and I’m not so sure. Thorpe and Ramprakash steady us down, rebuilding with a partnership that is approaching 50 before Ramps goes LBW by Ramnarine. No matter, here’s Adam Hollioake. There goes Hollioake. 81/5.

Wells and Batty manage three each and only Thorpe is showing any resistance. We’re 98/7 when Batty departs and as Gough can’t bat, it’s down to Headley to help Thorpe get it done. He hits a 4, narrowly avoids being out LBW and then runs a single. We’ve won by three wickets. That was too close.

We owe Thorpey a debt of gratitude. A narrow win.

Confirmation of the busy summer ahead.

We’ve drawn first blood but only just. Join me next time for the second and third tests where hopefully everything will work itself out.