Posted by: tootingtrumpet | February 13, 2009

The Wisden Trophy Second Test Preview

crickweb3g_26571aTo Antigua for the Wisden Trophy Second Test, with England’s batting “unit” still licking its wounds after its summary dismissal at the hands of Jerome Taylor and Sulieman Benn in the cauldron of a rocking Sabina Park. 51 all out won’t be easy to get over, but The Trumpet has a theory that batting collapses are less mentally scarring than being bludgeoned for 510 over two days of leather chasing. With the teams still well matched on paper, we can expect another fascinating Test alternating sedate periods of accumulation and defensive bowling with periods of extreme violence to the scorecard.

West Indies’ selectors have wisely recognised that the Jamaican win was largely the work of three batsmen (Gayle, Sarwan and Nash) and two bowlers (Taylor and Benn). By drafting in the form batsman in the Caribbean, Lendl Simmons, and supplementing options still further by calling up the nous of Ryan Hinds, a clear message has gone out to the squad that places will depend on performance. Post-Stanford Super Series, the new tough West Indies looks here to stay, after a flabby decade or more.

England have some tough decisions to make. Ian Bell will almost certainly cede his place to Owais Shah, but the rest of the shamed Sabina set will probably be given a chance to redeem themselves. This will be a big Test for Monty who will get fewer favours from the pitch than he received in Kingston, so will need to introduce doubt into the batsmen’s minds through his own endeavour – England awaits the product of Mushtaq Ahmed’s work with tentative optimism.

Perhaps the key clash will be between two contrasting personalities with contrasting tasks ahead of them. Andrew Strauss must revive his own form and that of his team in hostile territory with enemies not just among the locals but, should things go against his team, amongst the travelling support and media. Chris Gayle has the opposite problem – how to maintain his own rich vein of form and avoid the creeping complacency that might ruin months of hard work.

Test cricket, as ever, will reveal exactly how these two men meet those challenges.

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Responses

  1. Well that was the shortest Test match in history. Abandoned after 10 balls. Very disappointing. They should move the match to the Recreation Ground starting tomorrow because conditions are not going to improve at North Sound overnight.

    Of course that would be too simple a solution for the administrators. They’ll keep their heads in the sand and let all the paying fans pay for their incompetence.

  2. The Rec may not be playable either, but the Stanford Ground will be. Seems they’re laying turf for the run-ups now!

  3. You got this one pretty badly wrong, Toots! another fascinating Test alternating sedate periods of accumulation and defensive bowling with periods of extreme violence to the scorecard.

  4. Okay Dave. The violence was to the ground not the scorecard!

    I’ve posted this at The Guardian, so apologies if readers have read it there.

    Shouldn’t we have expected this? It’s the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium after all and nobody made bowlers more uncomfortable than him. Instead of metaphorically sinking into the ground as they ran in to deliver to the maroon capped, gum chewing Master Blaster, bowlers were literally sinking into the ground. Progress – of a kind.

    Aw look mate – it’s a game of Test cricket that’s had to be called off. It’s embarrassing and obviously disappointing for the locals and the tourists, but what happened to Galle’s ground and Grenada’s ground gives a bit of perspective. Poor old Pakistan haven’t had a Test scheduled to call off and let’s not even start on the tragedy that is Zim.

    At the Rec, I’m sure the outfield will be bumpy, but cricket has always been played on local terrain (what was Marquesee’s word? Autochthonic? Of the place in which it is played?) The issue is the pitch, which can surely be rolled to death and provide a very old-fashioned challenge – they could even revive the coconut matting!

    England, having sulked in the Stanford stuff, showed tremendous heart in Chennai – here’s the chance to do it again.

    Bell for Shah anyone?

    (The “Aw look mate” is not a dig at Punter or any other Aussie using that expression, it’s just right in terms of capturing a bit of sadness, but also maintaining perspective).


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