COME FRIENDLY RAIN AND FALL ON LORD’S – WEST INDIES PRAY

By Clayton Goodwin

West Indies 121 (Gus Atkinson 7-45) & 79-6: England 371(Zak Crawley 76, Jamie Smith 70, Joe Root 68, Ollie Pope 57, Harry Brook 50, Jayden Seales 4-77)

When Gus Atkinson induced Jason Holder to pop up a catch to Ollie Pope at short-leg off the final ball of the day West Indies were a miserable 79-6 – and still 171runs behind. It was really that one-sided. Lacking players of experience, preparation and practice, the tourists were outclassed at every turn. Blame the players – they were doing their best! But it was a case of minnows swimming in the same stream as the big fish – a fate that had been feared when the names of the touring party were announced. West Indies can now only pray than rain will fall in the morning, and that it starts to fall very early.

In conditions much more favourable to batting than yesterday England powered forward well into the afternoon. The 371 runs total included five half-centuries against a West Indies pace attack which was never really threatening. Shamar Joseph, of whom much had been published, could not settle and left the field through injury a couple of times. It was indicative of the tourists’ lack of preparation for the test. A diet of red-ball competition and one semi-serious warm-up game was never going to be adequate to take on England at the home of their cricket. More matches against county sides should have been a “must”. Jayden Seales, the most impressive of the quartet, noticeably, had this season’s experience in the county championship.

Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie produced the one flutter in the batting by getting the ball to turn in dismissing opposing captain Ben Stokes and his predecessor Joe Root. Although the Lord’s pitch is considered to be more helpful to pace than spin, this style does have a tradition of success here. There was Alfred Valentine, for one, who with Sonny Ramadhin upset the status quota in 1950 and shaped the next decades of the game. That said, with the fielding more than competent, if not brilliant, the batsmen did not really get after the bowling, until debutant wicketkeeper Jamie Smith found himself with only the tail-enders and hit out.

The Surrey-man hit Shamar Joseph spectacularly for six, and went better by striking Seales out of the ground. Just when it seemed that England would attain a lead of at least 300 runs Jason Holder had Gus Atkinson caught at the wicket first ball, returning the compliment the fast bowler had played on him the previous day, and Mikyle Louis, who had caught Chris Woakes in the deep shortly beforehand, produced a spectacular throw to run out a bemused Shoaib Bashir. Smith raising one last hurrah was caught on the boundary by Kirk McKenzie from Seales to close the innings.

West Indies gave little indication that they would extend England into a second innings. Either they decided to concentrate on extending the innings until fate, the weather or their opponents’ lassitude gave them a helping hand, or their opponents would not let them do otherwise. The middle-batting is just that vulnerable and fragile. Mikyle Louis has looked to be one of the more positive players, but two partners were already back in the pavilion by the time he succumbed to the angled delivery of Ben Stokes. The run-rate 2.26 was drear. Alick Athenaze, who tried to put that right with three boundaries in an over, was forced back on himself until Jimmy Anderson induced him to edge a catch to wicketkeeper Smith. That was 55-5 and Jason Holder and Joshua Silva seemed to have played out the day until that last ball.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *