Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 9, 2009

England vs West Indies First Test: Report Card

73783803GP005_Durham_HeadsAndrew Strauss – As a batsman gets older, indeed as anyone gets older, the usual pattern of development sees risk being reduced or, in Steve Waugh’s case, pretty much eliminated. Andrew Strauss appears to dance to a different drum, as he continues to embrace risk more with each series. His batting in the first innings was as expansive as it was in the Caribbean and he paid the price, losing his wicket to a loose shot. But that wasn’t where his risk-taking had begun nor where it ended. To his credit (and newly appointed Director of Cricket, Andy Flower’s), he handed new caps to Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan and slotted Ravi into the key Number Three slot in his first home Test. Later, he tossed the new ball to Swanny who failed to nail his bunny, Devon Smith, first time around, but strutted about like he owned Lord’s in this, his first home Test, and delivered a Man of the Match performance. His captaincy was all that his opposite number’s wasn’t.

Alastair Cook – Looks out of nick with technical problems leading to a dismissal to a horrible crooked bat stab at the ball which produced the inevitable inside edge and clatter of timber. Safe for now, but Michael Slater was despatched to the wilderness for a lot less.

Ravi – His rivals for the Number Three slot (Vaughan, Bell and Shah) react to bad luck as one would to an old dog who has been sick on the rug again. Not nice, but that’s the way things are now. Ravi greets good luck like an old friend, offering good luck a beer and a comfy chair. And bad luck stalks Vaughan, Bell and Shah, but Ravi gets good luck almost at will. So his second consecutive ton was chancy – Ravi will have no truck with that, narrowing those flinty, Australian eyes and telling anyone who’ll listen to look in the book and on the Honours Board. Here to stay.

KP – Loved every second of the match at the heart of every celebration, but missed a Fidel jaffa first up and neither bowled, nor took a catch. An England ten wicket victory delivered without Flintoff nor KP – interesting.  

Colly – Needs a lot of cricket just to look ordinary, so looks terrible after sitting out the IPL. Must take every match he can before that other group of tourists arrive in July.

Matt Prior – It’s a tribute to his batting that a counter-attacking score of 42 off 56 balls is greeted as a failure, which, at Number Six, it probably is. His keeping is still unconvincing with feet and weight all over the place, but he didn’t pay the price of poor technique this time around. A slot too high at Six, but he’ll stay there for the summer and likely for his career.

Stuart Broad – Benefitted from some dreadful late in the day fielding from tiring West Indians, but unleashed those drives that remind England fans of Vaughan’s 2002 vintage – Number Seven is at least one slot too high, for all the promise. Strauss gave him plenty of work with the ball and he responded with five wickets and some good deliveries between the dross. Has all of Glenn McGrath’s cantankerous demeanour, especially if fielders don’t dive ten feet along the boundary to save two runs, but has yet to develop the Master’s unerring line and length. But Broad is listening and learning.

Tim Bresnan – Looked pleased just to be there and had just settled at the crease when sawn off by a poor LBW decision. Did nothing with the ball to suggest he was anything other than a trier. Will need to show a lot more to become a regular Test squad member.

Swanny – Batted with élan and no little skill to hit the ball on the up Caribbean style to the boundary. Never short of confidence, he carried on bowling where he left off with the bat. He’s a better bowler than he is given credit for, but his priceless asset is a personality which will get at batsmen while lifting his own team. After a long apprenticeship, is likely to be the spinner for the foreseeable future. 

Jimmy Anderson – Is beginning to look a real craftsman of swing bowling able to send the ball in or out at will. Needs to bowl fuller and straighter to get the wickets his skills deserve.

Graham Onions – Provided a feast of journalistic punnery, but was a revelation with ball in hand. Troubled good batsmen with skiddy pace and steep bounce and bowled an immaculate stump to stump line. With his shock of dark hair and stubble and quiet hostility allied to self-effacing charm, England have found their own Ben Hilfenhaus (as our picture shows). Will bowl better for less reward in the future, but will always have a dream debut to reflect upon.

  

Chris Gayle – After 81 Tests, an average of 30-something is as big a betrayal of talent as cricket has seen since Vinod Kambli pissed his career up the wall. All is not well behind the scenes and it appears that the captain and senior players are bearing the brunt of the discord. Prepared badly, batted badly and captained badly.

Devon Smith – Two scores of 40-something – criminal for an opener. But that’s Devon Smith’s career right there. When Swanny looms at the other end of the pitch, turns into Darryl Cullinan facing Warne.

Ramnaresh Sarwan – Batted for so long in the Caribbean so recently that he must feel like he’s still there. And that’s no mindset for Lord’s in early May, as his two innings showed. The man who did most to win back the Wisden Trophy after nine years may surrender it three months later – not fair.

Lendl Simmons – Cannot get his head in the right position to the ball bowled at the fourth stump. Test cricket is no place to learn the basics of batting as he is finding out.

Shiv Chanderpaul – Plainly unhappy and distracted, he fell twice to Swanny. Too much class not to make England pay, but too little time to make them pay much.

Brendan Nash – The new Larry Gomes, he has a good defence and a square cut, but not much else, except iron Australian will. Already looks a good shout to captain the side in the future.

Denesh Ramdin – Beautiful knock second time round and a better keeper than his opposite number, though that is damning with faint praise. Needs senior players to satnd up, so he can chip in.  

Jerome Taylor – Blows hot and cold with bat and ball and this was cold.

Sulieman Benn – Saw the funny side of coming out to bat without his kit in the first innings, and soon paid the price becoming Onions’ third victim in his wonder over. Has all the equipment to be a real handful bowling, but seems to lack a killer instinct as important for a spinner as it is for a seamer – ask Swanny.

Fidel Edwards – Took six first innings wickets despite catch after catch being spilled. Once he warmed up, he had real pace and unveiled the horrible skiddy bouncer that floored Jimmy. Kept smiling and loves the game, but his efforts deserve better from his captain and fielders. Probably too nice to ever be a really successful quick.

Lionel Baker – Will soon have the same number of Tests as Sylvester Clarke, which shows how far West Indian stocks of fast bowling have fallen. A Lancashire League pro – possibly.

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Responses

  1. Absolutely bloody spot on about Bopara – and the rest. Not sure Broady’s batting deserves quite those props though…!

  2. Very good summary, in my view.
    Not sure about Anderson though, I didn’t follow the embers of the game closely but got the impression he couldn’t finish them off.
    Fantastic for England their debutants have made a good entrance (at least, the two that got the chance), but what about the other 4 batsmen in the top/middle order? Without Boparas ton they would have been in trouble. Even with it, if WI had held their catches…
    Boycott did a good rant at the end on TMS about forgetting about the opposition and making sure your own game is in order, and by that measure, England took a good step forward in this game. The Ashes might be closer than I thought. But honestly, I’m just not sure what this says about England, or how much it tells us about their talent and form.
    Regarding WI, we were careful not to treat this as just a warm up for Australia, but after that effort, we might as well, they certainly don’t seem to attach much importance to it. Thanks guys, you’re helping England with a nice gentle, confidence boosting warm-up before the real cricket begins. I know there were extenuating circumstances, but still. Maybe they’ll arrive for the second match. “Sulieman Benn – Saw the funny side of coming out to bat without his kit… “: that’s the problem, isn’t it. Laughing in the middle of a collapse.
    My overiding feeling is one of sadness that a WI-Eng test has come to this. We all know WI are better than that.
    But regarding The Ashes, I don’t think Aus has too much to worry about here.

  3. how dare you put swann and warne in the same sentance . thats criminal

  4. theoldbatsman – Broad can be a joy to watch when hitting through the offside.

    Fred – Thanks for the considered post. As you may recall, I’ve called the Ashes 2-2 and what I saw encourages me. The top order played some loose strokes, but in only one hit, it’s hard to judge.

    max – I consider Warne the greatest cricketer ever, but that doesn’t stop me seeing that personality delivered a fair few of those 706 Test wickets. Swanny hasn’t anywhere near the class, but he’s the closest in personality playing today. Devon Smith won’t be his only bunny.

  5. Tooting, I’d rate Englands chances higher after this, not because of any increase in talent, but because they have some fresh blood and they’ve won without their stars. But 2-2 is wildly optimistic. I still maintain there is a big difference in level. Yet another ton from Hughes? Who is this man? And the reports are too that he’s a nice guy, relaxed, unfazed etc.
    What do you think Nesta?
    I guess in a few months we will no longer need to speculate.

  6. fred – Hughes is pulling up plenty of trees, but have you seen the numbers being posted by Punter and Mr Cricket in the last twelve months or so? My case for 2-2 is based on a growing confidence in England, an inexperienced and therefore inevitably inconsistent Aus line-up without any settled spinner and, most of all, English conditions.

    Those numbers – Punter average: 2007 38; 2008 47; 2009 33. Hussey: 2008 38; 2009 30.

  7. Fair points Tooting.
    2009 figures don’t mean much. Averages of 47 and 38 for 2008 are still not too shabby. Those stats are after 12 months of SA too, and India before that, the top two teams after Aus. True, they’re not playing well, especially Hussey, but whatever Australia does, it still looks strong compared to the Eng opposite number. Except the spinner, which is the obvious gap. And except KP.

  8. Top stuff Toots. Loved the wrap.

    Fred asks what Nesta thinks? I’m confident Australia will retain The Ashes. No idea on the actual results but with a very solid opening combination in Katich and Hughes and three young wholehearted and versatile quicks in Johnson, Siddle and Hilfy I think we have enough to triumph over five Tests.

    The middle order of Ponting, Clarke, Hussey and North is deep and full of classy experience and at least one will succeed in every match. Add Haddin to the mix and that is a very strong line-up.

    On Haddin, I think this is the series when he’ll put the ghost of Gilchrist behind him. He is primed for some big hundreds and England should be more concerned about the NSW ‘keeper than Hughes, Ponting or Johnson.

  9. The Windies weren’t just undercooked, they were inexperienced in making the most of English conditions. It’s interesting to note that in ten Tests, Brett Lee averages 45 in England (in Aus 29 and SA 28), so he has never really worked English conditions out. So there’s a bit of learning for MJ, Siddle and Hilfy to do – I don’t doubt that they will do it, but if England can get to 150-1 or 150-2, they will have to learn quickly.

  10. It was a Fascinating Performance by England.


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