Posted by: tootingtrumpet | March 11, 2009

West Indies vs England Fifth Test Report Cards

2149503066_57c25a7e85Fighting in a war has been described as 99.9% boredom and 0.1% intense fear and excitement. This series could be described thus also. In a Fifth Test that often seemed to drift, the final day brought intense cricket and a test of men as much as players. It wasn’t the West Indian batsmen that provoked scenes of joy amongst the locals, but the wicketkeeper and bowlers, who held out to deliver the Wisden Trophy back to the Caribbean – and it is much deserved.

Chris Gayle – The only time he showed really positive intent was in taking the run to secure his ton and precipitate the injury that pushed him down the order in the second innings. Needs to learn how to make things happen as a captain. His best decision was to play the extra batsman.

Devon Smith – 28 and 17 tell their own stories. Looks every inch a Test batsman until he gets out and then you know that he isn’t.

Ramnaresh Sarwan – The game is a cruel mistress, so after three glorious performances, a quiet match was expected and so it transpired.

Lendl Simmons – Showed promise in finding his feet in his first Test innings, but found the pressure too much second time around.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul – Did the Chanderpaul thing to make an unbeaten hundred first time round without ever dominating, nor seeking to dominate.

Brendan Nash – Provided the late middle-order glue to take the Windies to within two runs of England’s first innings score. There’ll be a few more innings like that which will please his captain, if not the fans. Bowled lots of overs – nobody knows why.

Ryan Hinds – Gutsed it out in the second innings for a vital 94 balls, but is a First Class and not a Test cricketer.

Denesh Ramdin – Made 149 fewer runs in the Port-of-Spain second innings than he did in Bridgetown’s first, but in surviving 87 balls in a cauldron of pressure, he showed irrefutably that he has what it takes to be a Test cricketer.

Daren Powell – Sadly short of penetration with the ball, but made a superb 0 from 18 balls to all but see his team to safety. Has huge heart, but, alas, little skill.

Fidel Edwards – Lightening quick at times and his duel with KP was a diverting cameo as the game was being set up. Benefiting from being fit and under a captain who gets the most from him.  Batted out a draw for the fouth time – and he never doubted it.

Lionel Baker – No more than tidy. Impossible to believe that the Islands have nobody more threatening.

Andrew Strauss – Will be castigated for delaying his declaration in the second innings, but the Trumpet was happy with 66 overs and 240 as a target. Batted positively and is reborn as a top class opening bat.

Alastair Cook – After a torrent of runs in Bridgetown, missed out on a flat track.

Owais Shah – Horrible match blighted by cramps and a run out. Looks so uncomfortable at the crease that it’s hard to see him holding on to his place with his mirror opposite, Ravi Bopara, in the wings.

KP – Delivered a hard hit hundred at last and is still the wicket the bowlers want. Looked uncomfortable, but not fearful, when peppered by Fidel’s well directed bouncers.

Colly – 161 in the first innings is impressive, but it’s hard to judge the value of such runs on so flat a track. Held two dazzling catches, but his fielding is only intermittently brilliant these days.

Matt Prior – Batted very well providing momentum when much needed. On a difficult track for keeping, he made it look as difficult as it was.

Stuart Broad – Continues to improve as a bolwer and has added the cutter to his armoury, but is not getting the wickets he should. Couldn’t be trusted to bowl at the stumps in the denouement.

Graeme Swann – Hampered by injury, but carried a threat throughout. Deserves a run in the team, but might need England to play two spinners to get it.

Jimmy Anderson – Bowled with no little skill and great enthusiasm, but we’ve been here before. Will he carry his form through to consistency?

Amjad Khan – Almost paralysed by nerves when he first took the ball, then bolwed the odd jaffa amongst the dross. May well be a one Test wonder.

Monty – Shows encouraging signs of learning from Mushtaq Ahmed, the coach he has needed for the last three years. Showed more variation in one Test than in the previous two years. Appealed like a wild man, but showed how much he cared. Could easily have wrapped up the match for England with just a little more luck.



  1. Quick off the mark, as always, Toots.

    Congratulations to the West Indies on a hard-fought series victory.

    I don’t hold out as much hope for England’s Ashes chances as you, Toots. England only got close to the drawn-series-clinching win because the Windies almost succumbed to the pressure of the situation, rather than as a result of their (England’s) own skill.

    I don’t think the Aussies will let England into the game often enough to give our boys a chance of regaining the Urn in the summer.

    • Cheers Mac – both recent Aus performances and what we know of inexperienced players tells us that low scores are possible from Aus and that they won’t always click and bowl a side out. An off day with the bat followed by an off day with the ball from Aus should deliver chances to England come the Summer. Whether they will take them or not, I don’t know.

      • Yes, I think they will give us chances, but I’m not sure our boys are ready to take them on a consistent basis. I think the Aussies will have to do a LOT of misfiring for us to win.

  2. Well played WI’s. While everyone blames pithces, Windies negitive tactics England still seem not be able to take 20 wikets in any test.. even when they had 600 runs in first inns.. some team

    • We’ll see twenty wickets in the English Spring come the next two Tests. Twenty wickets is a problem, but few sides have consistently delivered that objective. It is the priority though.

  3. Toots. Well written, but you will forgive me, .. I disagree with an awful lot of it, but I understand your perspective. I do. Truly.

    A small paragraph re :- Kevin. And Andrew.

    while there is the horridness of losing, there is the consolatory century from Kev. And if this is enough consolation, then skip to the next persons post.

    Strauss.. he did not have enough authority to get Kev to obey his instructions, relayed by Harmison ( and that may have been part of the problem , perhaps) -every over that Kev took in getting his 100 was the less England had to complete the job. Every minute Kev took to make his score was a debit to England. And it was obvious that these were the instructions Harmison was to relay. It was certainly obvious to Collingwood, and Flower, blindingly so.

    It still astonishes me that Strauss didn’t pull the plug over the top of Kev’s desires. Bad Captaincy, in spades. Only the bowlers could do it. Batting was irrelevant. Time and overs were paramount.

    Kevin. I am undecided if Kev actually worked this dilemma out and continued regardless or whether he really couldn’t see the wood for the trees. If he couldn’t work it out, he is nutso, and if he did and continued, he is nuts and psycho quantum leaped.

    This takes nothing away from the bowlers for England , who finally fought like Dobermans in the even more difficult arena they were landed in due to this folie a deaux. Although there cannot be any excuse for not understanding the new rules.. this is Monty’s job, just one example, Toots.

    Certainly, Gayle was absolutely rock steady in recognising what was occurring, as every other member of the WI team did , who played magnificently.

    You did ask me, Tooting. I can do no less than call it as I saw it.

    • I didn’t see it Pepp, so can’t comment. 240 in 66 overs was a good target I felt. Sides have been bowled out in fewer overs for fewer runs 42 times in the last ten years. And, as you saw, the pitch was not as easy as the pundits claimed. Had England set 210, Gayle could have done a Sehwag and won the game in forty-five minutes. Everyone seems convinced that he would not have chased any target, but how could we know? Especially with a home crowd demanding he stick to the Windies’ tradition. Declaring in time for four overs before lunch and those going for 20 would have left 190 in 66 overs after lunch – you can’t attack with spinners and four men round the bat and that target. A slightly delayed declaration, but I see why 240 in 66 was what he was looking for.

  4. I did not think England will get this close to a must go the team for trying their best.


    A team must pick the best 4 or 5 bowlers available.If two of these happen to be spinners, then so be it.If both Swann and Monty look like taking wickets, then Eng should have them both (as they did in this match).

    If Flintoff is fit, I suggest this lineup for the Ashes:

    Strauss & Cook

    12th Man: Bell

    If Flintoff is not fit, pick the in-form pace bolwer suited to the conditions of the venue.

    Australia will be favorites for the Ashes, but I expect it to be a close series, especially if Eng starts off with at least a draw at Cardiff.A lot will ride on Eng consistently scoring around 400 in their first innings.Remember, all it takes is to skittle the opposition for a low score once :-)

    West Indies – They may have won the series, but they did not look very convincing.Getting out of jail twice is good, but they should look at why they get into the mess so many times.

    Ramdin and Nash for WI; Swann and Prior for Eng – the most improved players on both sides.

  5. Something seemed a little off at the end of the England innings. Strauss was looking uncomfortable, and with Flower next to him, in his face, seeming to be hauranging him. I don’t really know them so hard to be sure, but they didn’t seem exactly at ease with the situation. And then, when he was dismissed, KP walking off with that stunned mullet expression. He’s an odd fish so hard to interpret, but again, not looking exactly like he was comfortable with the situation. Body language is a subtle thing but the English camp was screaming discomfort, not intent.
    Perhaps if your interprtation is correct pepp, KP considers himself still captain, and damned if he’s going to take orders from that jumped up pratt, Strauss.
    The declaration was probably a but late, but not by much.
    In a sense Toots, they needed Gayle to try a Sehwag, and hopefully fail. That was their best chance of a win. Bowling out a defending team is 10 times as hard. No-one would have blamed Strauss for being more adventurous and losing.
    However, they got closer than I would have imagined. Good performance to maintain that pressure, and they came to within a hair’s breadth. I thought WI would defend with ease, but England certainly gave it their best.
    Puzzled as to why Broad didn’t bowl towards the end. I know Anderson was on song, but still. Once Anderson dismissed Gayle (I think) and No 10 Edwards came to the crease with 2 balls to face, and England closing for the kill, Anderson bowled his next two balls outside off. No shot required. Batsmens nerves settled. Of such things are games won and lost.
    WI, cool as cucumbers. Good on them, now take it forward.
    As for England, with Ashes to come, and then a tour to SA, its going to be a hard year.

    • I forgot, England is playing WI in a return series next isn’t it? Might be some joy for them there. Just enough to build optimism for the Ashes.

    • I’m not sure that there is much difference in your chances of getting wickets when asking a side to chase at four an over as when asking a side to block (I suspect the risk kicks in above four an over).

      And yes – the key to success bowling to tailenders in that situation is to bowl every ball at the stumps. Broad didn’t, Jimmy did better, but Monty was best. I suspect Warne and McGrath would have got 11 out of 12 at the stumps though.

      • I suspect the risk kicks in above four an over

        If this is true, then all teams would score at 4/over.

        • Given that most teams and people are risk-averse, then the fact that most teams score above three an over would suggest that the real risk kicks in at about four. Or am I wrong?

          • Not so many years ago, didn’t teams score a lot slower than they do now? (Speculating, possible reasons might include: flatter tracks, weaker bowling attacks, the influence of the 90s Australians, ODIs and now T20).

            So I imagine the old-timers thought the risk kicked in around 3 an over. Isn’t this an incalculable? Depends on line-up, conditions, opponents, etc., and declarations like Strauss’s can be no more than an educated, case-by-case judgment call.

            Personally, writing as someone who didn’t see it, I was wanting Strauss to give his bowlers a handful of overs before lunch, and did wonder whether KP-power was prevailing. You have to give yourselves the best chance of bowling the other side out, and who’s to say a more tempting total wouldn’t have helped. If Gayle beats us in 45 minutes, so be it (unless we care about the difference in ICC ranking points between 1-0 and 2-0. And we don’t.)

            • Mac – 66 overs were plenty really. The bowlers weren’t quite good enough in the face of a superb rearguard from Ramdin.

              • Sorry to belabour the point, but surely, if the bowlers weren’t good enough, that means 66 overs weren’t plenty.

              • I think that’s the balance Mac. At some point, you have to trust your bowlers and 66 overs, 239 runs on seems a reasonable point to me. The bowlers then couldn’t quite do it.

          • The overall run rate this decade is a shade above 3, runs off the bat is almost exactly 3.

            Even if teams are risk-averse, I don’t think they’re so risk-averse to get the optimal run rate wrong by so much. Remember also that players with better averages tend to get picked more, so it’s in individual players’ interests to bat at their optimal strike rate. And hardly anyone has ever maintained a strike rate above 65 in Test cricket.

            • Dave – I can’t argue with the stats, but I wasn’t too far off!

  6. Looking at that WI side, it’s more proof, if needed, that teams can be more than the sum of its parts. Or as whoever it was once said, ‘on paper they’re better than us, but it’s not being played on paper, it’s being played on grass…’

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