Posted by: tootingtrumpet | March 3, 2009

West Indies vs England Fourth Test: Report Card

300px-deadparrotYes, this was the same sport as that being played in Johannesburg. While the fight for the ICC Mace and the right to proclaim oneself, World’s Number One Test Nation captivated cricket fans worldwide, in Bridgetown, two lacklustre bowling units failed to flog any life out of the wicket. The draw that everyone except Fidel Edwards expected, eventuated and England go to Trinidad needing to win to retain the Wisden Trophy. It remains to be seen if either captain attempts to return the pitch to the groundsman complaining that he has been sold a “dead pitch” – our picture shows what might happen as a result.

Chris Gayle – Irked to be referred out missing an Anderson delivery that pitched leg and would have hit leg, he had a quiet match. Seemed to enjoy being on camera in the West Indies dressing room – who would have guessed?

Devon Smith – Does the hard work then gives it away. For a man of his ability to be averaging less than 25 is a terrible waste. He’s fortunate that the Wisden Trophy is still up for grabs as the selectors are unlikely to change the team without a compelling reason.

Ramnaresh Sarwan – Everyone thought that the big runs would be crashed by Crystal up top or ground out by Chanderpaul with the tail. But nine years into his Test career, “Ronnie” is finally fulfilling his potential. Spent nearly two days stroking a career-best 291 before fatigue overcame him – had it not, he might still be batting now.

Ryan Hinds – Not quite good enough at this level.

Shiv Chanderpaul – Gathered 70 typically ugly runs before being referred out. Still not firing on all cylinders, but must be pleased to have Ronnie and co helping out after years of carrying the middle order.

Brendan Nash – An unobtrusively effective cricketer preposterously referred out. Reminds me much of fellow Aussie State cricketer Marcus North. Both are likely to add grit to the Number 6 slot and bowl a few overs for years to come.

Denesh Ramdin – Came to the crease at 334-5, which is always nice, even when you’re 266 behind. Gorged on some unthreatening bowlers to register a maiden Test ton and career best of 166. He’ll make more taxing 36s in the future, but has quietened his critics for a while..

Jerome Taylor – Kept running in, but the magic of Sabina has still not returned. Played some truly spectacular strokes that will have caught the eye of IPL team owners and, for the more romantically inclined, conjured up images of the late Keith Boyce, entertaining the crowds down the order.

Sulieman Benn – Comprehensively outbowled by his opposite number, but, like so many of this West Indies XI, kept good body language and showed the humour that a spinner needs on a wicket like this. Is still learning the game – and you can see him doing so.

Daren Powell – Cruelly shown to be amongst the top ten bowlers in the highest Test averages chart (topped by his fellow genuinely quick, but genuinely unthreatening, Mohammad Sami). Delivered the best ball of the match to knock over (literally) Andrew Strauss, but the mystery remains as to why the other 217 deliveries were so powder-puff poor. After 36 Tests, this could be curtains for an honest trier.

Fidel Edwards – Gave it absolutely everything and made every batsman jump and duck. A fantastic show of bravado that deserved more than a paltry three wickets. Lifted his team when needed and, with this attitude, will take plenty of wickets in the Test scheduled for the English Spring.

Andrew Strauss – Played a beautiful, aggressive knock ideal for the circumstances, before getting the ball of the match. Didn’t shine as a captain, but who would with a popgun attack on a pitch like this?

Alastair Cook – Has anyone ever made 94 and 139* look so unconvincing? But perhaps our expectations are wrong – he’ll never be another Tresco, despite the tall left-handedness. He’s more another John Edrich, whose average is within half a run of Cook’s and who also made his way accumulating steadily rather than spectacularly.

Owais Shah – Just when you think he’s back in for a decent run, he misses out and all the talk is of five bowlers for Trinidad and Ace to step down. Possibly doomed always to be the beneficiary or victim of circumstances.

KP – No sulking in the ranks and quietly going about his work. Played second fiddle in both innings, but you feel he needs a scorecard of 100-5 or the prospect of facing top flight bowlers to get him really fired up. Will recover his appetite for the limelight in the IPL and Ashes and become an even better player.

Colly – Out trying to go to the ton with a six, but with the scoreboard showing 467-4 when he tried it, nobody should blame him. Fielded well, showing great concentration. Nobody talks about dropping him for the extra bowler now.

Ravi Bop – After a baptism of fire as a Test player in Sri Lanka, arrived at the crease with the board showing 318-4 and tucked into some bouncers. Rode his luck, got hit, but looked at home at this level. The Aussies will like his attitude – they might like his bowling too. Must play in Trinidad.

Tim Ambrose – Batted and kept tidily, but will give way to returning new father Matt Prior. Looks a solid team man, who will be a good understudy if he’s prepared to play as many shots on more challenging wickets.

Stuart Broad – At 22 will have to decide soon whether he wants to be a genuine quick or a fast medium workhorse deluxe. If he studies Imran Khan, he will see a young fast medium bowler learn how to explode at the crease through an exaggerated leap to become a genuinely great speedster. Shows every sign of wanting to learn, so who’s it to be, Imran or Glenn? (As an aside, at 22 Ian Botham was bowling over twice as many deliveries in a season as 22 year-old Stuart. If he bowled more (ie played some county cricket) surely he would learn more?)

Swanny – Toiled away, in obvious pain from his elbow injury, to take five wickets in an innings. The thousands of deliveries propelled by him in county cricket stood him in good stead as he tried lots of variations, but never lost control. You can’t help feeling that Monty will get one more wicket per innings through his talent, but Swanny will get two more wickets per innings through his personality and nous. Likely to be spinner for The Ashes.

Ryan Sidebottom – Is he fit? Is this as fit as he gets? Will he ever take wickets without conditions helping him? The question marks just mount up for a man who seems to age a year for every Test he plays. His failure to get anywhere near a skier in the deep late on Day Four summed up the match for him, though he showed some class in halting his sheer relief at getting a wicket to catch up with Sarwan and congratulate him.

Jimmy Anderson – Bowled well, but didn’t get the wickets his control of swing deserved. The Trumpet would like to see him bowl right at the stumps with a split field and hang the runs.

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Responses

  1. The pitch isn’t dead Toots, it’s ah.. resting. Or maybe just stunned from all that banging the ball into it. Remarkable place Barbados eh! Lovely beaches, mix a cheap cocktail, good lookin’ birds….

  2. Not only is it happening in the Carib, its happened in Karachi and its now happening in Lahore.


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