Hello! My mission to improve England from the ‘worst team in the world‘ moniker received a surprise boost in the arm. We took a 2-0 lead against the West Indies in this six match series. 3-0 up with three to play would be incredible. But what are the chances?
Those conditions give nothing away. Wear is very good so West Indies’ spinners should be of little use until the final day at best.
Gough and Batty are still injured so Dean continues and we go without a spinner. West Indies obviously agree because they leave out Ramnarine for Nixon McLean.
West Indies win the toss and decide to bat. I would have done the same. It’s become a bit of a theme that we don’t strike early and West Indies’ opening pair make a decent go of it. It takes first change bowler Kevin Dean to strike, tempting Wallace into edging behind with the scoreboard on 46. Dean removes the other opener (and ODI bowling tyrant) Samuels for 31 to claw us back into the match. 55/2 but with Chanderpaul and Lara now in, we’ve got a different problem to resolve.
The partnership goes into the afternoon but Headley, always the saviour, takes a nice caught and bowled to remove Shiv and bring us back into the game. When Vince Wells bowls Adams for just 4, I think we’re on top for the first time. 154/4. Lara is set though and now he’s joined by Carl Hooper and the pair set about carving up our seam attack. Just before tea though Kevin Dean manages to find an edge and it flies to Atherton at slip. Hooper’s gone and the scones taste better.
There’s even better news straight after tea as Hollioake bowls Lara. 252/6 and into the tail. Ridley Jacobs though has been a nuisance constantly throughout this tour and he digs in, supported by Ian Bishop. Despite Headley doing his best to clean up the tailenders the Windies finish on 360. It’ll be tough to win from here.
That said, all we can do is bat for as long as we can and see what happens. Our opening partnership is excellent, Atherton and Stewart pass 50 together but it ends on 75. Stewart is LBW to McLean but it’s a reasonable start. Habib is in at 3. I’m struggling to find a settled batting order but he proves good support for Atherton who is methodically building an innings. He’s out for 25 though and Thorpe follows shortly afterwards. That leaves us 126/3 and Ramprakash joins Atherton. Ramps is another who is either feast or famine and thankfully today is a good day. He and Athers put on 104 before he loses his off stump to Benjamin’s rapid delivery.
Hollioake is out for 18 but Atherton passes 100 whilst partnered by Wellsy! Once Wells departs for 11 though were 285/6 and Atherton has been batting for an entire day. Unfortunately he’s left with little support and he is the last man out for 137. 311 all out, a deficit of 49. Could be worse.
If we can make a quick start we could be on top. For once, we do just that. Dean and Caddick account for both openers and Bulbeck gets the prize wicket of Lara. 90/3 and the lead is approaching 150. The middle order though is where West Indies will win or lose this series and Chanderpaul, Adams and Hooper take the game away from us. 138/4 becomes 349/6 and we’re facing the prospect of chasing over 400. Adams’ 135 was chanceless whilst the seamers spread the success. Dean only lasts seven overs though, he picks up an injury that means he will play no further part. McLean with 50 just to add to the misery. Eventually, there’s a declaration on 417/9. We need 467 to win. Not going to happen…
With four sessions to survive we could do with some steel. Instead, Atherton, Habib and Thorpe all depart for single figure scores before Day 4 is even over. 39/3. Why?
Stewart and Ramprakash rebuild at a snail’s pace but both depart within a few overs of each other to leave us 122/5. There’s still a session and a half to go though, so I’m grateful to Adam Hollioake batting with a maturity we don’t often see. He puts on 80 with Wells and 60 with Bulbeck before disaster strikes. Both are out within two overs which leaves Headley and Carrick to survive five overs as Dean won’t take any further part. Somehow, they do.
It’s a draw. A lovely draw.
That’s us two up with three to play and a rainy forecast for the 4th Test. Hmm.
With Dean out, we’ve recalled Bicknell. It’s not one for the spinners.
West Indies win the toss (again) and make us bat. Atherton fails but big scores from Stewart and Thorpe mean we pass 300 on Day One before rain brings a premature end to the day. It rains all of Day Two and that’s enough for me to declare.
We eventually get to play again but more rain makes it an interrupted match. The only highlight really is that Andy Caddick takes 8-110 and we hold a slender advantage of 15 runs. It is however Day 5 by the time we bat again.
A draw seems the only likely result so we bat like windmills for a session and with the lead 174, I decide to make it interesting and declare. Why? I’m nothing if not a showman. The pitch is a wreck, we could seal the series with a good bowling performance.
Besides, they’ll never knock off 175 in a session. Will they? Well I didn’t account for Shiv scoring a run a ball 92, did I? He’s ably supported by Samuels and some poor bowling and we lose in the final over of the day.
That… was a mistake.
Maybe my lowest ebb? Does it get worse than this?
We are at least one up with two to play. I’m a national disgrace though.
We really better win that 5th Test or it’ll be my head on a platter. Do join me next week to see if I can repair the damage…