Ah, that’s the kind of start you want to the biggest cricketing year in English history, isn’t it?
Let’s get the facts out there quickly, almost as quickly as England collapsed on Day Two of the 1st Test. The Windies beat us by 381 runs. 381 runs! I am not going peak-Freddie Flintoff or Geoffrey Boycott in the perceived disrespect scale, but 381 runs? Are we that bad and are they that good?
I don’t really know where to begin with it all, if I am being honest. England picked the names I expected them to pick, including Sam Curran ahead of Stuart Broad rather than Adil Rashid as I’d predicted. But names on a piece of paper don’t win cricket matches.
Bowling them out for 289 in the 1st innings was, all told, a good bowling performance by Jimmy and the boys. But the old saying goes that you never know what a good score is until both teams have batted. And, with England skittling themselves out for a mere 77 (yes, I repeat again – it is 2019 and not 1993) it is safe to say that 289 was a good score.
It was a curious tactic by England, it has to be said. Losing the toss would mean having to bat last on a pitch likely to turn towards the end of the match. Maybe they were being really, really clever by putting the Windies in a position where they could enforce a follow-on?
The Windies actually turned that offer down and set about putting on another 415 in their second knock, including a double-ton for skipper Jason Holder. This feat produced incredulity from former England star Andrew Flintoff who could not get his head around the fact that Holder had been able to cart pies to the boundary often enough to get a score of 202 not out.
Holder was given assistance by wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich who hit a pretty 116 himself. These boys were batting numbers seven and eight. And there was me thinking it was England who were batting deep.
I need to come back to the subject of Keaton Jennings. We keep hearing what a ‘top attitude’ he has and how he is ‘great in the dressing room’ but, really? Come on now. All that is a given, surely? How about he becomes great at the wicket? Yes, I know he top-scored in the first innings with, ahem, 17 but we need at least one of the openers to exude calm authority even in testing conditions. Is it too late to call Cooky?
Some of you might be shouting out that Rory Burns got 84 in the second innings. You’d be correct but even that concerns me. A ton for Burns at that point would nail him down as an opener for the whole calendar year (a bit like Jennings’ ton and Bairstow’s ton in Sri Lanka seem to have done the same for them) but he stays insecure in failing to get over the line. Mental weakness? Too much pressure? Suddenly realised it was a futile battle anyway and fancied a day off in Barbados?
Bring me Mike Atherton, please.
The other concern I have is that Moeen Ali already looks like a man who seems to be on a mission to play himself OUT of the Ashes series. Why would you go that, Moeen? All you had to do was bat sensibly for a few hours and then the gaze would be on someone else. But no, Ali is now very much in line for the chop for the 2nd Test.
It is also worth pointing out that England were bowled out in their second go by a batsman who bowls. Roston Chase took eight (EIGHT) England scalps on Day Four. You might be forgiven for thinking he is Murali reincarnate. He isn’t. England played him very, very badly and he bowled very, very well.
Our spinners didn’t. Other than Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes, we were toothless with the ball meaning that Stuart Broad has to return, probably at the expense of Sam Curran, or Moeen Ali. Actually, Adil Rashid did diddly as well. Drop them all, drop them all.