West Indies

England vs West Indies, 2nd Test, Day 4: Fancy England play the strategy game


The bat did the talking for the first half of the day. The ball turned the match quite dramatically in the last session of the fourth day of the second Test between England and West Indies at Old Trafford.

Roston Chase’s Viv Richards-like pull for four helped West Indies avoid the follow-on, in hindsight even helping the visitors open up a chance to win the series. The all-rounder soon fell to Chris Woakes after making a handsome 51, but he had played his part admirably well.

In the first two sessions, Broad, on many occasions, went to his bowling mark in haste, unhappy. The onus was on him as he was the most experienced of the lot. He looked like one, in the final session when he took three quick wickets with the second new ball.

England team were full of life when they started bowling with the new ball. It moved, quite frequently as things started going their way. West Indies were reduced to 287 all out from 242-5.

After which, in pursuit of quick runs, the hosts started with a healthy lead of 182 runs. They sent in a new opening pair of Ben Stokes and Joss Buttler – yes, that Super Over duo – but the latter fell for a duck. He was followed by Zak Crawley, who fell trying to launch Kemar Roach. Skipper Joe Root and Stokes saw the day through with 32-2 on board with England leading by 219 runs.

ALSO READ: The same old, Old Trafford

In the first session, a lot happened in favour of the West Indies.
Chris Woakes got an edge off Kraigg Brathwaite’s blade, the ball flew to Stokes in second slip, but Crawley who stood beside him made a half-attempt, leaving Stokes confused, and the catch was spilled. This time it was Broad who eked out an edge, the ball travelled between the third and fourth slip. The next ball, Joseph played a back-foot drive, and a livid Broad bowled a sharp bouncer, which, in no time, passed the boundary rope.

The hosts tried hard for wickets and looked desperate, the edges did not carry to the hands, the leading edges went to third man, and the overnight batsmen ran ones, twos and threes.

When the West Indies batsmen batted in a bubble, they were safe and secured. The bubble would have been easy for someone like Jofra Archer to burst. England surely would have missed him earlier today. 

After the pacers failed to yield a wicket, off-spinner Dom Bess was called on. Soon, Joseph, the night watchman, who was vigilant early in the day, was caught one handed at short leg by Ollie Pope. He made a decent 32, which also resulted in a 50-run partnership with Brathwaite. Not once did he show that he belonged to the tail, not to mention, he has two fifties in first-class cricket.

Brathwaite did not repeat the mistake; he played the ball down to Bess who bowled to a Pope at forward short-leg and Stokes at leg-slip. Shai Hope, who joined him, did the same. The close-in fielders flung to the left and right in vain.

There was an in-stadium ad-board of Maxus which read: “The pure driving experience.” Hope experienced that. He was driving everything that was drivable. He struck a few beautiful boundaries through the off-side region and quickly came close to the match the score of his partner.

Even though the equation of the match today did not appear the way the West Indies wanted, they batted like they were ahead, both in the match and in the series; with an energy and an attitude that are so inherent to West Indies cricket.

After lunch, Hope was done in by a clever cutter off Sam Curran whereas Brathwaite dug in and continued. He showed great resilience and brought up his 19th Test match fifty. He had Sharmarh Brooks on the other end. To dismiss him, England did what West Indies did to Dominic Sibley – bowl on or outside leg stump line. Broad and Stokes decided to bowl from round the wicket. The all-rounder bowling 11 overs on the trot, mostly short-pitched, was finally rewarded when he caught and bowled Brathwaite.

To the very short balls, Brooks either swayed or ducked. To somewhat short ones he stood tall and presented a straight bat. Those that were too full on leg were dispatched for fours. And in quick time, he had brought his second fifty in five Test matches. Chase, who was in the middle, too received the same treatment from Stokes, who hit the deck hard.

Broad quickly wrapped things up for England by dismissing Brooks, Southampton hero Jermaine Blackwood and Shane Dowrich in the space of four overs.

In the morning, Dominic Sibley accidentally applied saliva to shine the ball, and immediately caught the attention of umpire Michael Gough who had it disinfected as is the new ICC playing norms. 

Brief scores: (Stumps Day 4 – England: 32-2, lead by 219 runs. Ben Stokes 16*, Zak Crawley 11, Kemar Roach 14/2)

Bowls leg-spin, drops it short, stands only in the slips, drops anything that falls short. Tweets @charu_prabhu