Posted by: tootingtrumpet | February 8, 2009

West Indies vs England First Test: Report Card

ian-bell_1289954c1Chris Gayle – Mixed studious defence with sufficient violence to hit five sixes on a small ground and, once he had lost the toss, captained flawlessly. Appears to be growing from a flashy, under-achieving batting talent into a dependable player and masterful captain. There is only one MS Dhoni, but Crystal Gayle isn’t far behind.

Devon Smith – Got a good one from Flintoff to be referraled out LBW. Juggled, but held on, to catch Cook’s abject edge and provoke England’s cataclysmic second innings collapse.

Ramnaresh Sarwan – Was fortunate to be referred in, but, as good players should, cashed in with a ton that complemented his captain’s ton perfectly. Is another under-achiever about to blossom in the new West Indies?

Xavier Marshall – Waited over five hours for his turn to bat, then lasted just one minute. He won’t forget this match, but more for the team’s performance than for his own.

Shiv Chanderpaul – Having spent so much time shoring up fragile batting in a losing cause, his failure cost the Windies nothing. Nobody deserves the elation of victory more than the little man.

Brendan Nash – Has a man ever stepped into the Test arena with such a long and undistinguished career behind him yet looked so at home? Played superbly for his 55 as he ensured that West Indies would gain a lead. England know that cheap Caribbean wickets are a thing of the past.

Denesh Ramdin – Kept well on a difficult wicket and promoted an excellent, energetic fielding display. Played a useful knock to secure a first innings lead for his team.

Jerome Taylor – Bowled well in the first innings, but his second innings’ spell was pace bowling of the highest order, fit to rank with Curtley’s and Mikey’s finest. Nine overs of planned, disciplined and intelligent bowling saw off five top order batsmen and broke what little resistance England offered. He will bowl half as well and win Tests for his team.

Sulieman Benn – With a lovely looping action and long fingers ripping across the ball, Big Benn was a revelation. Four wickets in each innings were fully earned as he offered a consistent threat of wickets and controlled the run-rate. In just his fourth Test, he exploited a pitch that offered turn but neither pace nor bounce, like a man in his eighty fourth. A talent has arrived.

Daren Powell – Bowled a tight line and length to support the stellar efforts of his colleagues at the other end. Delivered the third seamer’s brief perfectly.

Fidel Edwards – Not his match, but it didn’t need to be.

Andrew Strauss – Won the toss, but won little else, falling cheaply to edges off the excellent Taylor in both innings. Has the worrying task of raising the team and his own game before the Second Test, starting in just six days time.

Alastair Cook – All at sea technically with feet not moving and his head in the wrong position. Will be secure for this series, but really needs a century to cement his place for The Ashes.

Ian Bell – Looked good, but yet again, went missing when needed. Shah must take his place in Antigua. Will benefit from a season or two in the county game, but will the selectors be willing to throw away 46 Tests of investment in this fragile player?

KP – Played dazzlingly well in the first innings before (alas, foolishly) attempting a fourth consecutive boundary to go to his ton. No longer captain, but is palpably the leader of the batting effort and a huge personality. Got a ball early in his second innings from Taylor that would have cleaned up Bradman on 150.

Colly – Doesn’t look good when making 200, so looked pretty bad making 16 and 1. Has built up a bit of credit with two tons in the last five Tests, so will be safe, but he can’t afford many more matches like this.

Andrew Flintoff – The second best batsman, but that isn’t saying much. Bowled with his usual heart, but should really be getting more wickets. The burden placed upon his injury-ravaged frame is more than is sensible with a big summer to come.

Matt Prior – In England’s last report card, the Trumpet wrote, “Continued his infuriating knack of looking settled as a Test keeper – batsman in one match, then a county journeyman in the next. Did nothing to dispel the belief that the package he offers is not much more than any one of six or so keepers currently at work in England.” Same again!

Stuart Broad – Improved his bowling with each spell to gain his first five wicket haul. If he can bowl at his best more regularly, he will become an excellent first change bowler – England fans must hope that comes sooner, rather than later. Disappointed with the bat, especially when appearing shellshocked in the second innings – understandable, as the score was 23-6 when he took guard.

Ryan Sidebottom – Looked toothless with the ball, but batted sensibly. Might be best suited to the wickets and overhead conditions of England and New Zealand.

Stephen Harmison – Not quite as toothless as Sidebottom, but needs to rediscover the muse that comes and goes so infuriatingly.

Monty – Totally outbowled by Big Benn, with one wicket in 47 overs on a helpful strip telling its own story. Will come under pressure from Adil Rashid, not least because his batting has disintegrated and his fielding is club standard – just.

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Responses

  1. A resurgence in West Indies cricket. What a great thing that would be for 2009. Condolences England.

  2. Interesting read, only thing that bothered was Monty’s comparison with Benn . With defeat by an innings, he got only half the chance to bowl on what we can say safely a deteriorating slow pitch, as compared to Sulieman Benn. Not to say that Monty could have done with few more wickets in the first innings, but it looked as if England didn’t know how to bowl against Nash/Ramdin. Chanderpaul went on a score of 254, after which the lower WI batsmen scored 138 on a slow pitch. Interestingly, England lower order scored 138, too after departure of Pietersen on score of 180. The difference really came to that 5 wickets down score in first innings, a deficit of 70 odd runs. That is where the England top order really failed (and in the second innings too).

  3. Thanks for dropping by guys.

    crikfan – Monty got 47 overs from his captain. Often the lower order makes a big difference (hence my liking for a decent Number 8) but Gayle, Sarwan and Nash were able to outscore KP, Flintoff and Prior. The paucity of contributions from England’s other four batsmen was marked.

  4. Taylor’s gem to Pietersen probably would have bowled The Don at 150 but not on 1. He would have played that ball with the full face. Playing across the line against the new ball before set was suicide 70 years ago and it still is today no matter how good your form or eye.

    Saying that it wasn’t Kev’s fault England lost. You can blame the Windies obdurate batting and brilliant execution of bowling plans for that. Oh, and Stamford, and Dyson, deserve some credit too.

  5. I agree Monty was below par, but I saw definite signs of improvement. Slower bowling, more dip.

    Mushy is making a difference and we should see where it goes.

    Of course, it also makes me furious that we didn’t have a spin coach a year ago when I first started campaigning for one.

  6. Nesta – Indeed, the full face would have helped, but it was always bowling him.

    Metatone – Like you, I am pleased that Monty is getting some coaching. I hope to see steady improvement.

  7. I saw about half of Panesar’s overs and his length was tidy and he extracted plenty of bite. However, he is one-dimensional and doesn’t just lack variation his bowling is completely bereft of it.

    Probably due to the midnight to dawn viewing times I unconsciously found my self whispering to the TV, after half dozen overs of the same delivery, “Bowl him a doosra” before realising who was bowling and then in my sleep deprived delirium my voice become louder as I implored, “Just bowl a bloody straight one then!”.

    I’ve been watching Mendis, Murali, Harbhajan, Ojha and Shakib display their variations and guile often these last 12 months and the differences in ability and tactical approach between them and Panesar is beyond description. More recently I’ve had the pleasure of adding Vettori and Benn to the list and unfortunately for England’s eternal spinning intern the same gulf applies.

    Panesar is a decent defensive stock bowler and should be used in that role but when you look at the whole package, where his batting is useless and his fielding uncoordinated, I think he is more a hindrance to success than a help.

    Nice fellow though and I wish him well.

  8. “Spinning intern” is cruel but true.

  9. Well, I do find it curious that a bloke with over 125 First Class matches, 36 Tests included, still doesn’t understand his craft and while in the national team needs shepherding and intensive coaching. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his team-mates consider him much like a special needs kid in a class of over achievers.

    Additionally, for all Mushie’s strengths, I’m not entirely convinced that he knows a helluva lot about finger spin either. Bowling yes but wrist spin is a completely different style of bowling. He couldn’t bowl a doosra, something Panesar should be working hard on, if his life depended on it.

    Just because he turns it too doesn’t make him an expert on Panesar’s discipline. It’s a bit like having a chemist teach biology because they are both science disciplines.

    It truly is a bizarre situation when the national team is being used as an academy and I think England’s results since the rest of the cricketing world became familiar with his inadequacies are indicative of that observation.

  10. This match seemed as if Windies were frustrated with what’s happening in the Eastern part of the world. They thought the world has forgotten what Windies can do and I must say – They have grabbed much attention after this game.

  11. Hooray for the West Indies. Yes – lets hope this team can again be an inspiration. As an Australian fan, I am looking forward to an Ashes series where neither team is after the number 1 berth and we can just get on with beating the old enemy without any distractions.

  12. Reading the above; one assume the referenece to ‘Stamford’ is be credited to that American knight Allen Stanford. I would disagee that he has anything to do with the resurgence of the WI test team. If any external influence apart has helped the WI team it will be the IPL distraction which has inflated the ego of KP and Flintoff it no doubt deprived them of sleep with with the result of the auction being announced so close to the 51ao. What contrasts in performances to Broad who prefers to focus on playing for his country.

  13. Delboy, must be a tad embarrassing to nitpick a typo while making your own directly beforehand. Ouch!

    Mr MoneyBags has enabled many Caribbean players the luxury of financial security and consequently given them the confidence and associated pride to believe that they can compete internationally.

    To discount his influence on Caribbean cricket is folly. As is you being aware of KP and Fred’s sleeping arrangements. Perhaps 160 overs in the hot sun, some stunning bowling and a typical lack of gumption would be more sensible observations.

  14. By: nestaquin on February 10, 2009
    at 2:37 am

    Stanford – A disruptive influence on WI and World cricket; I REST MY CASE!!!!

  15. The bloke invested oodles of cash into Caribbean cricket. Admittedly it wasn’t his but where is the disruption to West Indian cricket?

    As for World cricket, I fail to see how Stanford caused any cricketing problems for anybody outside of the ECB and WICB boardrooms. I can assure you that the sub-continent and the southern hemisphere nations were merely observers.

    Instead of trying to score points perhaps you could explain your case succinctly and considerately.

  16. By: nestaquin on February 20, 2009
    at 2:46 am

    I do not do two word sentences. Whatever ills befalls the WICB and ECB will ultimately have ripple effects. There was a proposed WI, SRI, England and NZ series, to be sponsored by Stanford. A bankrupt WICB could force withdrawal of the WI team from world tournaments. The uncertainty of the status of any one team affects the planning and logistics of WORLD cricket.

  17. Perhaps Dellboy but a cancelled series is hardly going to see England or the West Indies fall to the depths of Pakistani or Zimbabwean cricket. Stanford invested money in the game. I still do not see the harm his generosity has caused. Most of the money in cricket is generated by India and to a lesser extent Australia and I doubt a tournament between the cash strapped and ill managed teams you mention is going to affect their balance sheet or schedules.

    Stanford created a regional tournament that included all the affiliates of North and South America and although the USA refused to compete it was a boon to the game in that region. Those teams like Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Venezuela, to name a few, all benefited financially and promotionally and that is good deal for cricket.

    Don’t mistake my pragmatism for support of the sleazy Texan’s business practices either. He’ll get his just desserts just as Lalith Modi will probably get his one day.

  18. […] Until England’s innings, there was not much to choose between the two teams. Obviously, England had under-performed against their potential, allowing the West Indies to grab a 76-run lead, but the major damage was caused by the two WI centurians, Gayle and Sarwan. But there are no excuses to the events that happened after that. Taylor bowled the spell of his lifetime. And surprise, surprise! They got there without a significant contribution from Chanderpaul. […]


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