12.32pm EST 12:32 14th over: England 37-1 (Denly 14, Bairstow 2) Gabriel still steaming in, and he’s opting for a rib-tickling approach, pounding the middle of the track. One stays super low and Denly keeps it from hitting the stumps only with a thick inside edge, then he wafts at a rare full ball and
14th over: England 37-1 (Denly 14, Bairstow 2) Gabriel still steaming in, and he’s opting for a rib-tickling approach, pounding the middle of the track. One stays super low and Denly keeps it from hitting the stumps only with a thick inside edge, then he wafts at a rare full ball and misses with the drive.
13th over: England 37-1 (Denly 14, Bairstow 2) Hell’s teeth that was a dreadful shot by Burns. Bairstow is altogether more circumspect with the remaining five balls of the over, getting off the mark by flicking two into a vacant mid-wicket.
WICKET! Burns c Campbell b Holder 16 – England 35-1
Sheesh. Holder brings himself on and strikes first ball, but at the risk of being uncharitable it didn’t have much to do with him. Burns tries to cut a ball far, far too close to cut, and only succeeds in giving Campbell catching practice in the slips.
12th over: England 35-0 (Burns 16, Denly 14) Gabriel is giving off similar grumpy vibes to Anderson earlier. The nip has disappeared from his bowling and the two batsmen are finding it increasingly easy to play him. Just a single from the over.
11th over: England 34-0 (Burns 15, Denly 14) Denly clips pleasantly in front of mid-wicket, not quite timing it perfectly but he picks up another two runs, and as it turns out it was merely a precursor to an absolutely delicious cover drive that he very much did time perfectly, all the way to the cover fence. If you’re an England supporter who believes in fate-tempting look away now…but these two are looking more and more assured.
10th over: England 28-0 (Burns 15, Denly 8) Snorter from Gabriel who turns Burns right round, like a record baby, and he somehow avoids getting bat on the ball. Incidentally, Bairstow is padded up to come in first drop, despite keeping for four sessions.
9th over: England 28-0 (Burns 15, Denly 8) Burns jabs at one from Roach then looks behind him in panicked deja vu, the ball going extremely close to the stumps, much as it did in the first innings. But unlike that innings, it missed the wickets and he survives.
8th over: England 26-0 (Burns 14, Denly 7) Gabriel traps Denly and it looks very, very close: the bowler wants to review it but none of his teammates concur. Looked out at first glance, but Hawkeye confirms it was going a few inches over, so a good decision in the end. Denly looks uncomfortable in the extreme, but then Gabriel lets him off the hook with a wide long-hop that the Kent man cuts with gusto to the boundary. Then once more Denly gets away with one, cuffing an attempted pull straight up in the air, but it plops down just in front of a theoretical square leg.
7th over: England 21-0 (Burns 14, Denly 2) Burns looking a bit more positive: he whips a couple down to fine leg, plays a confident drive straight at extra-cover then times the knickers off a leg-stump half-volley, which fine leg fails to stop. There was a missed cut in there too, but the intent is there.
6th over: England 14-0 (Burns 8, Denly 1) Denly looks a tad skittish, all tip-toes and jerky bat movements. He pulls at one from Gabriel that keeps a little lower than expected and he misses in ugly fashion, but then he connects with one, sends a top edge high, high, high in the air towards fine leg where Brathwaite runs in….and DROPS! Those steeplers are always tricky but he made a complete nonsense of the attempt, misjudging things badly and not getting there quite in time. Gabriel screams then stares at the fielder for a long, long time. Gulp.
Meanwhile: mercy, mercy me…
5th over: England 13-0 (Burns 8, Denly 0) Burns plays with soft hands, opening the face very slightly and guiding a thick outside edge down to third man for England’s first boundary off the bat. Roach comes back with the jaffa’s jaffa from the last ball of the over, which misses the edge but does square Burns up rather.
The players are back out for the afternoon. You wonder how long West Indies will be able to keep up their barrage of that brief spell before lunch. If they can, this will be a super-spicy session for England.
They’re playing highlights of Lara’s 375 in Antigua on Sky. Here’s a piece about that magnificent thing by Vic Marks, who watched from the press box that day.
Lunch: England 9-0, West Indies lead by 110 runs
Pretty decent morning for England, really: the lead was only extended by 34 runs, and they’ve reached the break with all their wickets intact. A low bar, perhaps, but that’s frankly where England have set it on this tour so far.
4th over: England 9-0 (Burns 4, Denly 0) Burns takes a Trottian length of time to mark out his guard, just making sure this is the last over before lunch. He plays out the over well, not offering the bat unless he absolutely has to, flapping a single to fine leg and it is indeed the interval. A potentially grim little spell nicely dealt with by the openers.
3rd over: England 8-0 (Burns 3, Denly 0) Roach bowls with a hefty grunt, but Burns deals with him pretty well, nicely flicking a single down to fine leg. Denly shovels one to short-leg which Hetmyer drops, but that was all thigh pad. They go up for an ear-splitting lbw appeal but the angle from which Roach is bowling (wide) that looked like it was heading comfortably down leg. Shrewd call not to review it.
2nd over: England 7-0 (Burns 2, Denly 0) Here’s beefcake Shannon Gabriel to open from the other end, and sends a brutal bouncer towards Burns’s throat which he fends off as best he can, the ball flying to where leg gully would have been. Batting on this track against this pace looks…not fun.
Meanwhile, the Antipodean mind games continue, with Justin Rigden: “Please remind Brian Withington that our bragging rights disappeared with that little scrap of sandpaper last year. I told you England would be batting in half an hour. If they survive until the last session today, it’s game on.”
1st over: England 6-0 (Burns 1, Denly 0) Quite a start from Roach – an absolutely colossal leg side wide gives a scrambling Dowrich no chance at all, and it flies away for five wides. Then the snortiest of snorter bouncers is aimed at Burns’s nose: a brilliant delivery, jagging in as well as being at that lethal length and pace, very well played by Burns who got out of the way, pronto. Burns tucks the first run off the bat just wide of mid-on.
They’re out for England’s second innings. How will this water biscuit England top order cope with Roach, Gabriel et al?
Great effort by Bravo, though. He reached 50 off 215 balls and in 338 minutes, which makes it the slowest ever half-century by a West Indian and the third slowest in all Test matches. Proper cricket, or something.
West Indies lead by 119 runs
Tough one for England, then. The bad news is this pitch is becoming more treacherous than the pit of Sarlaac, but the good news is West Indies have shown it’s possible to score some runs if you’re sensible about it.
WICKET! Bravo st Bairstow b Ali 50 – West Indies 306 all out
After Bravo brings up his half-century with a single, two balls of the over to go they for some reason take another single after a thump down to long-on by Gabriel. Bravo comes down the pitch to try working another to keep the strike, but just runs past it and Bairstow completes the formalities.
130th over: West Indies 304-9 (Bravo 49, Gabriel 0) Gabriel loses track of what I think was a shorter slower ball, but is again pretty staunchly in behind the rest of Stokes’s over.
“Please advise Justin Ridgen (over 124),” advises Brian Withington, “that we are on to his canny reverse moxing of this match and the forthcoming Ashes series. Stick to the archetypal Antipodean bragging and sledging whilst leaving us Poms to the gentle deprecatory pursuit of downplaying our teams’ chances on all sporting fronts.”
129th over: West Indies 304-9 (Bravo 49, Gabriel 0) Bit of spin, as Mo Mo Mo Ali replaces Anderson. “Let’s not eff about Mo,” yells a voice from somewhere, I think the crowd rather than the field, but one would think the players will concur. Bravo turns down a single after carving one to the cover sweeper, which is a bit surprising, but then takes a step or two down and smokes a bullet straight six that barely got 10ft above the ground. However he can’t get the single from the final ball which means Stokes, in theory, has an over at Gabriel.
128th over: West Indies 298-9 (Bravo 43, Gabriel 0) England put three slips, a short leg and a leg gully in for Gabriel, but the big man gets in behind the rest of the over from Stokes pretty solidly, ducking under a couple of the shorter balls. Wicket maiden from Stokes though.
WICKET! Joseph c Burns b Stokes 7 – West Indies 298-9
Ben Stokes is on, and strikes with his very first ball, as Joseph fends one to Rory Burns, who takes a good low catch at third slip. That’s what you call instant impact.
127th over: West Indies 298-8 (Bravo 43, Joseph 7) Joseph takes a rapid single just past point, but speeds in and makes his ground, but the throw misses anyway.
Meanwhile here’s a story from Ali Martin about the Hundred, which is going well.
126th over: West Indies 296-8 (Bravo 42, Joseph 6) Joseph fends at a couple of balls from Broad that leap up, inspiring the installation of a short leg. Joseph gets in solidly behind a few, before another pops up but too far ahead of Jennings to be dangerous.
Digging in, with Darren Bravo:
125th over: West Indies 296-8 (Bravo 42, Joseph 6) Sheesh what a shot from Joseph: a ball of reasonably full length is thwacked high over Anderson head and it bounces through for a boundary. Bravo then plays a couple of shots that look a bit pointless and wafty, missing both, but then again he’s facing Jimmy Anderson on a minefield of a pitch, so…
They’re having a drink. West Indies lead by 104 which, after the first hour, is a result for both teams: them because, well, they lead by 104, but England because they’ve broadly kept the scoring down.
124th over: West Indies 291-8 (Bravo 42, Joseph 1) Joseph plays a nice flick off his pads for a single. The optimistic Justin Rigden from earlier is back on – or, perhaps given his provenance, the pessimistic Justin Rigden. “I am an Australian and did watch England in the 1990s, with a great deal of satisfaction! This is a much better England team than that. They’ll be batting within half an hour – providing the top end are patient, they should make a game of it. They’ll beat Australia this year too.”
123rd over: West Indies 289-8 (Bravo 41, Joseph 0) Applause from all round the stadium as Alzarri Joseph makes his way out to the middle. He leaves one that misses off stump by…not a lot, and then takes one on his pads that England sort of appeal for, but their heart didn’t sound in it.
WICKET! Roach c Stokes b Anderson 6 – West Indies 289-8
Really, really good catch by Stokes: not a spectacular one really, because he didn’t have to move his feet and just threw his hands up high directly above his head, but a flashed edge from Roach was going at quite a pace. England chipping away now: Anderson and Broad have bowled rather well.
122nd over: West Indies 289-7 (Bravo 41, Roach 6) Bravo wears a nasty lifter from Broad on his bottom hand, and that looked like it bloody hurt. Glove off, hand gets a good shake, then next ball from almost the same length keeps very low and Bravo does brilliantly to jab his bat down in time. Then Broad bowls a couple of what look a lot like cutters, the first beats a defensive push and the next goes wide of a rare expansive shot from Bravo. The Windies have the last laugh (from that over) with a couple of singles.
Meanwhile, this is flamboyantly niche…
…and while I’m not trying to explain the joke, any excuse to listen to one of the great songs.
121st over: West Indies 287-7 (Bravo 40, Roach 5) Roach jabs at one outside off and a very thick edge zoots wide of the diving Burns at fourth slip, earning himself (?) a boundary.
120th over: West Indies 282-7 (Bravo 39, Roach 1) You have to admire Kemar Roach’s moxy: he swings absolutely everything at a ball vaguely on a length, misses it by a foot and earns a quizzical look from Broad.
119th over: West Indies 282-7 (Bravo 39, Roach 1) Actually I did Anderson a disservice there: there was plenty of bounce, enough in fact to take Holder’s glove, rather than the bat. Anderson beats Bravo with a couple of absolutely snorting away swingers and, despite his continued grumpiness, looks in a pretty good groove.
“Every time I see England selector Ed Smith in the crowd,” offers Don Wilson, “I’ve been trying to think who he reminds me of. Today I’ve got it, anyone remember 1980’s early CGi Max Headroom?”
Judge for yourself…
…although I’ve always had him more as ‘Young Mick McCarthy if he went to Cambridge.’
WICKET! Holder c Bairstow b Anderson 22 – West Indies 281-7
Simple stuff. Anderson bowls one just the right width outside off stump, it lifts up just enough and flicks off Holders’s willow through to Bairstow.
118th over: West Indies 281-6 (Bravo 39, Holder 22) There’s a significant change in the field, as Root and Broad bring in a short leg and a sort of leg gully/wide leg slip, with one conventional slip and a gully. Not going to be much full stuff, you’d wager. Incidentally, should probably have mentioned earlier: that short-leg is Keaton Jennings, on the field again for Ben Foakes, so Jonny Bairstow is keeping. Jennings takes a sharp one-handed catch, but off Bravo’s thigh pad.
Kandukuru Nagarjun writes: “Alzarri Joseph’s tragedy reminds me of another tragedy involving a Windies player that happened around an Antigua Test. In 1983 against India, the great Gordon Greenidge scored a century, his first for six years. And then flew back home to Barbados to be with his infant daughter battling a kidney infection. Sadly, she succumbed to it two days later.”
117th over: West Indies 281-6 (Bravo 39, Holder 22) Anderson lets out a gutteral scream of irritation as Holder edges between second and third slip, but it dropped about a foot short and in the end Stokes does brilliantly to stop the thing from scooting boundary-wards. Anderson beats the edge two more times, and turns on his heels with what can only be described as a dejected vibe.
116th over: West Indies 280-6 (Bravo 38, Holder 22) Broad hits Bravo above the knee roll and goes up for an appeal that could go in the dictionary as the definition of optimism. That’s what happens when desperation starts to creep in. One single from the over, nudged by Bravo.
115th over: West Indies 279-6 (Bravo 37, Holder 22) Holder leaves one on length, which is about as remarkable an act of faith as you can imagine in cricket. He was right though: just, the ball going about three or four inches over the bails.
114th over: West Indies 278-6 (Bravo 36, Holder 22) Broad gives Bravo a terrific lifter which the batsman does well to keep down but then, in a minor version of the stunt he pulled yesterday, the bowler pointlessly flicks the ball at the stumps, off which it rebounds, and the alert Windies pair skip through for a single. Then a sign of just how much this pitch is falling apart as one on a length leaps up so much that it loops through to the keeper – it was as if the ball had hit a pebble in the middle of the pitch.
113th over: West Indies 277-6 (Bravo 35, Holder 22) Absolute woofer of an in-ducker from Anderson to start, cutting Holder in half and from the sound of things it clipped his box. Then one holds its line and beats the outside edge, and the final ball of the over is the sort of sensational ball that even the best batsmen just has to close his eyes and hope misses the bat, pitching on middle-off and jagging away unplayably.
Justin Rigden potentially didn’t grow up watching England in the 1990s, so thus sounds quite chipper. “Of course England will be batting today, the Windies tail is quite fragile. This pitch will be horrendous to bat on last. If England can get a lead of 100 they’re in with a good chance of victory.”
112th over: West Indies 277-6 (Bravo 35, Holder 22) Broad starts largely on the mark, but Holder gets some squirted runs, two down to third man and another one off a thick inside-edge to mid-wicket. Bravo tucks a couple of his own down to fine leg.
And we’re away. The Barmy Army, as usual give themselves a hearty round of applause after the semi-tuneless version of Jerusalem.
More sad news, from Antigua…
As far as I know Joseph – just 22 – will still play, which always I find absolutely extraordinary. The mental fortitude that must take is remarkable.
This has nothing to do with sport, never mind cricket, but before play starts read these tributes to Jeremy Hardy, who died this week.
“Of course England will be batting at some point today,” says Nick Knight.
Don’t be quite so sure about that, Nicholas.
What’s the pitch going to be like today? Well, it looks like an eroding cliff, all jagged edges and unexpected crevices. I wouldn’t fancy batting on it, but then again I’m not even a village standard batsman. Batting last on this is going to be spicy, but batting second and third doesn’t look like a picnic either.
And here’s Stuart Broad sounding either despondent or rather bullish, depending on how you view things.
A quick catch-up from yesterday? Allow Victor Marks to take you through it.
Do you think there’s a more frustrated set of sportspeople in the world right now than the England bowling attack? 276/6 isn’t a horrendous score to have conceded in isolation, even without the dropped catches. But of course there are the dropped catches, plus the house of cards collapse of the top order, which has meant that not horrendous score equates to what will soon be a first innings lead of 100, then 150 and most likely 200 plus after that.
Naturally England didn’t bowl perfectly, and we’ll get to the West Indies batting prowess in a bit, but if the tourists’ current predicament is anyone specific’s fault, it ain’t the bowlers’.
Naturally, the Guardian reserves the right to withdraw this commentary should we get another wicketless day with a whole load of pies sent down. Let’s see.