This was written on the evening of the third day of the second test in Trent Bridge. The West Indies managed to limit England to a misely 428 which was just 58 ahead. By the end of Play the Windies were 61-6 i.e. just 3 ahead but 6 down. A few things can clearly be taken from this and hopefully learnt..
Firstly England should have got about 500 or 600 and if it weren’t for the fifty partnership at the bottom between Bresnan and Broad they wouldn’t have even had a lead. Secondly England have a great new ball partnership with strong and first change bowlers that always seem to perform. No doubt the WI have some good bowlers that can keep the runs down and take wickets against the best team in the world but they are fundamentally a hopeless batting unit. Especially when the 37 year old Shiv fails. They need some batsmen (Sarwan, Gayle, Bravo, Pollard etc..)
Firstly then – We all watched Sammy and Samuels, Strauss and Pitersen belt the ball around a flat wicket and a quick outfield. The question we ask is why have in both tests the top order of the W.Indies order not fired and why didn’t the England middle order fire. It was clearly a batting wicket especially at Trent Bridge. Clearly a placid pitch and incredible sunny warm batting conditions. The likes of Pietersen and Cook could have and should have gone on having got a start. Bell should have not given his wicket away so easily and similarly with Bairstow; Not too mention Prior. There is just a lack of ruthlessness with the bat, almost as if they know the bowlers will do the job. I get the feeling that England should have had a lot more runs on the board, perhaps 550 or 600. We all know how potent and effective England’s seamers are (61-6 proves that..). 600 on the board and skittle them out for peanuts .. surely that is what England tried to do, but the Batsmen didn’t really perform.
It is somewhat hidden away that England’s Batsmen didn’t perform because of the teams overall strong position. The West Indies were effectively six wickets down with a lead of just 3 runs. Arguably if England had got the score they should look for i.e. 550 then the Windies not even ahead because England should still have been batting long into the day and dominating. The new ball bowling partnership of Anderson and Broad is not the quickest or the most experienced but it’s perfectly clear that they are genuinely world class. Anderson in particular i can aliken to Flintoff in the sense he leads an attack, dosn’t have an amazing average or get 5 wicket halls every game but he is Ever reliable and incredibly skilled in his art . The only bowling partnership to challenge Broad and Anderson are of course Steyn and Morkel and they are only possibly better due to the higher pace at which they bowl. England of course have not only got Anderson and Broad but they have Bresnan coming in at the end and being England’s real ‘Goldenarm’. England arguably have a string of 5 or 6 world class seam bowlers (Tremlett, Onions, Finn etc) in addition to Swann who is the best ranked spinner in the world. The Batsmen have world class bowlers to fall back on, but if England want real ruthlessness then the batsmen get the runs. Bigger and quicker and the bowlers have more rest then do their job.
Rampaull and Roach are potentially a great outfit of opening bowlers in addition to the likes of Edwards and Taylor who could make a lethal four pronged pace attack. The obvious glaring problem with this otherwise decent international attack is the depth. Where is their first change ? Sammy ?? Really ??? That is like bringing Collingwood or Andrew Symonds on as a first change. It’s just not worthy of an international first change. If Sammy plays he should be at 6 or 7 not 8 especially as he has shown he can score a hundred under pressure. He is a decent batsmen and should take some responsibility. The Windies need Dwayne Bravo to bolster both the bat and ball department and another quality seamers such as .. .. maybe Jerome Taylor, Tino Best, Gavin Tonge.. or spinners like Bishoo or Benn. These bowlers are absolutely quality but the 1st change spot is totally wasted by a part time medium pacer. (Hope the WI Board read this!). With an attack that is led by two good bowlers but not much else after; there is little problems for quality batsmen like Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen.. If they can just survive the opening spell they can cash in which is why i think England should have got a hell of a lot more.
Lastly i think it is perfectly clear that the West Indies are team reliant on a few players. Roach and Rampaull with the Ball to take wickets which they do, and arguably Sammy to keep it tight; which he really dosn’t. It goes without saying that Shiv and Samuels with the bat take most of the flack. It must be seen that Samuels only has 2 or 3 hundreds and Shiv is now 37 and nearly 38. What is going on !? Where are their players that can actually win them games. It’s often said that Batsmen get the runs and the bowlers win the game; well the bowlers did okay limiting England to less than a hundred lead.. but it is the W.Indies top four that yet again failed. Shiv of course had to go up the order on this occasion but Edwards still failed. Barath, Powell and Edwards, look completely out of their depth. Bravo looks good but just hasn’t performed yet. It’s all resting on Shiv and Samuels and it just isn’t going to happen every time. When is someone going to stand up and do the job they are paid to do i.e. hit the bloody ball without it going to a fielder or back on to the stumps. Sort it out !!!!!!