Monday, 28 May 2012

England v West Indies 2nd Test review

Coming into the 2nd test following the convincing finish to the 1st test on the Monday before, both sides had three days rest before the 2nd test began at Trent Bridge on Friday morning.

There was a change in temperature and climate in England following the somewhat cloudy and grey skies, Nottingham's county ground was in glorious sunshine and this prompted captain Darren Sammy to elect to bat when he won the toss.

West Indies had some changes in line-up, Ravi Rampaul was recalled after recovering from a neck injury to replace the injured Shannon Gabriel with a suspected fractured back.  And spinner Shane Shillingford replaced Fidel Edwards. England remain unchanged, in spite of the possibility of dropping lucky charm Tim Bresnan for Steven Finn.

The election to bat did not look a good one however, when the combination of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad put the suspect top of the order to the sword as they dropped to 63-4, Anderson doing for the woeful Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo, Anderson had a hand in both of Broad's wickets catching both Powell and Barath off of Broad.  The catch to remove Barath was a particularly lightning reflex one at 3rd slip as he snapped it out of the air.

A recovery appeared in order with Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels doing the work again, in a solid partnership that took them to 125 before Graeme Swann gained his first Test wicket at his home county ground trapping Shivnarine lbw, which the West Indian reviewed.

Danesh Ramdin followed soon after and England must have had plans to be batting by the evening's end with the weak tail.  Yet captain Darren Sammy showed the best form of defense is attack as he and Samuels put on 204 for the 7th wicket - ending the 1st day on 304-6 a marvellous recovery. Samuels reached his century off of 219 balls.  The next morning after a flabby start, England went to work after Sammy gained his first Test century 106 and the 7th West Indian to score one when batting at No. 8.

From 340-7, West Indies were all out for 370 with Bresnan and Swann swept up the tail.  England went to work on chipping away at the larger than wanted total.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, again led from the front whilst the West Indies were hoping for an early wicket before lunch.  They thought they had it, yet when Roach had Cook out caught behind, a replay showed that Roach's front foot was fully in front of the line.  Sammy's reaction of hands atop of his head said it all.

Cook did eventually depart when he nibbled at Rampaul to be caught behind, and Trott was his usual beligerent self before falling lbw to Rampaul, leaving England 123-2.  Kevin Pietersen came to the crease, and much like Samuels and Sammy the night before Strauss and his incumbent captain went about smashing the attack. Pietersen as ever saving pride of place for blasting Shillingford to all corners.

Andrew Strauss went to his second century in as many tests before the close of play - where England were 259/2 at the end of another glorious day of summer sunshine.

The next morning (Day 3), the West Indies went for broke bowling Roach and Rampaul to make inroads and they did so getting Pietersen lbw (which KP reviewed) and then Roach got Bell playing across the line.  The two R's are a nice combination - Roach is raw aggression, whilst Rampaul is slowly but bowls wicket to wicket and is difficult to get away hence the success with lbw appeals.

Jonny Bairstow had the chance to impress with the captain, yet he looked ill at ease against the short bowling served up eventually a leading edge attempting to play to off went up in the air to mid-on for a poor looking 4.

Prior was bowled again from one that nipped back from Sammy, yet Tim Bresnan was looking solid ending with a 39* (third highest in innings) in a total of 428, invaluable runs which gave England a lead of just 58 runs, yet still a lead nonetheless.  West Indies shared the wickets around - Roach 2, Rampaul 3, Sammy 2, Shilingford 1 and Samuels 2.

England had the lead and with tea taken, England had the evening session to take some wickets before West Indies could overtake the lead - the hope being that England have a small total to chase on a pitch that is a difficult pitch to chase on.  Remember how England nearly fluffed the chase in the 2005 Ashes when a score of 130 was only overtaken by Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard.

England could smell blood and with the weak line-up and top 3 facing them, Anderson felt the moment was his.  And in his second over, his swing did for Powell who played away from his body, arms too far away and so he played on to his leg stump which went flying.  Anderson's next hour his swing did for Barath, a plumb LBW leaving the tourists 14-2 and bringing Chanderpaul to the crease early.  Here was England's chance to attack one of the great batsmen.  Throughout the series he arrives at the crease after the new ball burst, here he is in the fifth over of the innings facing the music.

Chanderpaul looked good, neatly playing shots off his legs as he stepped across the line effortlessly, yet Stuart Broad used his height to tuck up Chanderpaul and a well aimed short ball was met by Shiv attempting to pull to long leg, but a top edge went in the air.  The ball seemed to be skyward for an eternity not wanting to come down, yet Jonathan Trott composed himself and took the catch safely to dismiss Chanderpaul for just 11, leaving them 31-3.

Darren Bravo, who has not been able to impress on this tour, followed soon after when Bresnan traps him from around the wicket.  Bravo reviewed a ball that looked pretty plumb, 45-4.  Ramdin came, went which led to the arrival of Kirk Edwards who had been reportedly laid up in bed at the hotel with flu and would bat if only necessary.  Now, is asking a man with flu to come to the ground in the evening really necessary.  Let him rest up, get better and try again tomorrow, and why did Darren Sammy (the Captain) not come out to face the last few balls before stumps.  It was tempting fate, to ask an ill man to face a fiery Bresnan, Edwards lasted two balls before also being trapped leg before.  Edwards walking off the field was a sight of melancholy.

Bresnan's spell of 6-2-10-3 was just what the doctor ordered as Darren Bravo looked to be digging in for the evening; yet he bowled with pace, accuracy and benefited from some poor footwork by the static West Indian batsmen who could neither get their foot forward to play defensively, nor back and play off their hips.  A no mans land for futile batsmen, with Bresnan benefiting.

England's day all round, with the tourists finishing 61-6 a lead of just 3 runs.  The stage was set for a quick resolution to the game on the Monday morning.

England bowled with pace on that final morning, but could not get the breakthrough for some time, until Bresnan traps the captain on his back foot in his crease for 25, 110-7.  More determined resistance from Roach is undone by Anderson upon review as he moves miles across his crease and replays show the ball hitting leg stump.  Yet England had to eat lunch with the knowledge of two more wickets to bat again, 83 runs behind with two wickets remaining.

Stubborn resistance remained in the form of Marlon Samuels who after blasting Graeme Swann for 16 in one over could only watch as Shillingford and Rampaul offered nothing, Samuels ended on 76 not out (a series avg of 103.33 at the moment).  England required a target of 108 to gain an unassailable lead in the Wisden Trophy series.

West Indies were hoping that their opening pair of Roach and Rampaul could make early inroads.  Alas the formidable opening partnership of Strauss and Cook saw out the new ball and England got home and hosed by the dominating margin of 9 wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the series at 4.34pm on the fourth day.

The story of this test is that it pits two teams against each other; one is utterly professional and can smell blood going in for the kill to render themselves dominant.  And the other is on the way back, attempting to make up lost ground, but with still much to learn.

For England, it must be pleasing that someone always steps up to take the credit.  At Lords, Broad bowled superbly taking 11 in the match, here he took 3 yet got the key one of Chanderpaul in the 2nd innings.  This time Tim Bresnan the lucky charm - 12 matches, 12 wins - took 8 wickets and scored an invaluable 39 whilst wickets fell around him.

My hope for the third test at Edgbaston which starts in 10 days time is that England take the opportunity to rest both Anderson and Broad for that test and give them a rest with a 5 game ODI series versus Australia and the crucial 3 test series versus South Africa still to come.  The chance to rest is here and should be taken, and give Jonny Bairstow another test, although it would be surprising to see him face the brunt of the South African attack of Steyn, Morkel, Philander in July/August.

England v West Indies, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge, Nottingham; 25th-28th May
West Indies 1st Inns 370 (Samuels 117, Sammy 106) and 2nd Inns 165 (Samuels 76*, Bresnan 4-37, Anderson 4-43)
lost to
England 1st Inns 428 (Strauss 141, Pietersen 80) and 2nd Inns 111-1 (Strauss 45, Cook 43*)
Nine wickets.

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